HC Deb 07 August 1851 vol 118 cc1937-9

Order for considering the Amendments to the Patent Law Amendment Bill read.


said, that one of the points upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) had objected to this Bill was, that, while the amount which would be realised by the fees to be taken under it was uncertain, it proposed to authorise the Lords of the Treasury to make a fixed charge upon the Consolidated Fund, for the payment of compensation to persons whose offices and emoluments had been abolished under the Act. He was fully prepared to admit that there was considerable weight in that objection; but at the same time he was not prepared to accede to the suggestion which was made on the previous day, that a fee fund should be created, and that the whole frame of the Bill should be altered, so as to allow of this change. The Government were not prepared to alter the Bill to the extent which would in that case be requisite; and he might mention that the recent course of legislation had not been in favour of the creation of separate fee funds; and he need only refer to the case of the fee fund in the Court of Chancery, which had lately come under their consideration, to show that the sense of that House was not in favour of creating a fee fund for the first time. The scheme of this Bill seemed, on the whole, to be simple and effectual, and to provide an easy mode of accounting for the receipts and of meeting the disbursements, under the control of that House, with the single exception of the clause relative to compensation; and he hoped that the alteration which he proposed in Clause 49 would meet the objections which were urged against it on the previous day. Instead of giving the Treasury the power of awarding compensation, and of making a charge upon the Consolidated Fund, he proposed, while retaining for the Treasury the power of awarding compensation to the officers, to enact that its amount should be provided out of such money as might be provided by Parliament for that purpose. The amount of compensation would thus be put on the same footing as the salaries; and no compensation could be paid to any officer without a vote of that House. He apprehended that security would thus be afforded against unnecessary expense. With regard to the patent offices, the holders of which would be entitled to compensation, he found that there were three in the Signet Office; but as two out of the three holders were dead, there would only be one person entitled to compensation, Then there was one patent office under the Privy Seal; and another (the clerk of the Hanaper Office) under the Great Seal, the latter being held by a clergyman named Thurlow, to whom it was granted by Lord Chancellor Thurlow; and there was also the clerk of patents, appointed by the Attorney General.


having proposed some other Amendments of minor importance,


said, that he regarded this as an ad interim arrangement, as it had been opened by the President of the Board of Trade and the Attorney General; and as it was no doubt difficult to calculate the amount of fees beforehand, it might not therefore have been fair to fix the compensation exclusively on the fund to be so received. He should, however, have been very sorry to make a permanent charge upon the Consolidated Fund for compensation under an interim arrangement. He thought that the arrangement proposed by the hon. Secretary for the Treasury was perfectly unobjectionable, because it brought both the payments on account of salary and of compensation under the cognisance of Parliament in an annual vote, and was, therefore, quite different from a charge on the Consolidated Fund.

Amendments agreed to.


said, he hoped the House would allow the Bill to be then read a third time. He admitted that his proposition could only be justified by the period of the Session, and the necessity there was for the Bill being sent up to the House of Lords immediately.

Clause added.

Bill read 3°, and passed with Amendments.