MORE lay people and fewer private doctors should sit on Medical Council disciplinary inquiries to better protect the public from malpractising and unscrupulous doctors, the Chinese University's Dean of Medicine said. Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said yesterday that the council should include fewer members from doctors' unions to lessen the conflict of interest involved in doctors monitoring doctors. The Medical Council has three members nominated from the territory's biggest doctors' union, the Hong Kong Medical Association (HKMA), and two from the British Medical Association, but only one lay member. Professor Li said: 'We need to have adequate checks and balances in disciplinary procedures against doctors, including on the members themselves. 'It is the job of the HKMA to protect doctors and so there is a clear conflict of interest in having members of the association judging other doctors.' But HKMA spokesman Dr So Kai-ming pointed out that council members nominated by the association did not sit on disciplinary inquiries as representatives of the union. Dr So said: 'Council members do not represent the interests of the bodies which nominate them. They are there to work on behalf of the profession and the public.' Under a long-awaited amendment to the Medical Registration Ordinance which is expected to be tabled in the Legislative Council during the current session, the membership of the Medical Council will be increased from 14 to 24 members. But the lay membership will only be increased to two members, in spite of initial plans to triple the number to three. Dr So said: 'We would all like to see more transparency of the Medical Council. 'And I would have preferred to see the lay membership increased to three. 'But we must remember that we are dealing with professional matters in disciplinary inquiries. 'We require the expertise and knowledge of medical professionals in most cases, so we must be careful to strike a balance.'