HC Deb 09 October 1912 vol 42 cc354-5
59. Mr. FRED HALL (Dulwich)

asked if the agreement entered into with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company in 1909 provided for extending the system outside Great Britain upon arbitration terms; and, if so, whether advantage was taken of this provision when arranging terms of the new contract with the company?


The paragraph in the agreement to which the hon. Member refers merely provided that if at any future time the Government desired to use the Marconi patents for purposes of communication with any station outside the United Kingdom the terms should be settled, failing agreement, in accordance with the provisions of Section 29 of the Patents and Designs Act, 1907. It therefore merely recited, and added nothing to, the powers already existing in the hands of the Government under that Act, which apply to the use of all patents. Advantage could only have been taken of this provision if the Government had decided itself to erect the stations for the Imperial wireless system through one of its own Departments instead of contracting for them. For reasons which I outlined to the House on 7th August this course was not considered advisable.

60. Mr. HALL

asked upon what terms the use of the Muirhead system of wireless telegraphy was offered to the Government; whether the Law Officers of the Crown opposed the validity of the Muirhead patents in the Courts; whether such patents, although refused by the Government, have as the result of being upheld in the Courts been purchased by the Marconi Company; and, if so, what were the terms of such purchase?


With regard to the first part of the question, I must refer the hon. Member to the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War, as the use of the Muirhead system was not offered to the Post Office. In answer to the second part, my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General informs me that there was no question of opposition by the Law Officers to the validity of the patent referred to; but when the patentees applied to the Court for an extension of the statutory term of fourteen years the Solicitor-General appeared on behalf of the Crown. It is usual in all such cases for appearance to be made by or on behalf of the Law Officers in order that, in the public interest, all relevant considerations may be laid before the Court. The action taken in this case was in the ordinary course of procedure. I would add that the Post Office were not concerned. The patent was afterwards acquired by the Marconi Company, but I do not know upon what terms.