HC Deb 21 July 1961 vol 644 cc1684-5

2.7 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Niall Macpherson)

I beg to move, That the Patents (Fees Amendment) Order, 1961, a draft of which was laid before this House on 29th June, be approved. The effect of the Order is to raise the maximum amounts chargeable in respect of patent fees. The existing maxima are laid down in the First Schedule to the Patents Act, 1949. Parliament has recently enacted the Patents and Designs (Renewals, Extensions and Fees) Act, 1961, which enables the First Schedule of the 1949 Act to be amended by affirmative Order. The Order is submitted for the approval of the House under Section 2 of that Act.

The reason for the Order is that it is necessary to raise the fees because the costs of running the Patent Office have increased. It has always been accepted that the fees should be sufficient to cover the cost of administering the grant of patents.

During the debate on the Second Reading of the 1961 Act, under which the Order is submitted, I said that the deficit for that year would be £74,000. Since then, the full effects of the salary increases given to the patents examining staff, together with other civil servants, have become apparent. Even though receipts for this year are likely to increase by £100,000 without raising fees, it is estimated that unless fees are raised the deficit will amount to £187,000.

The Order proposes to increase the maximum on filing of complete specification from £4 to £15 and on sealing of patents from £5 to £6. The fees charged at present are £4 and £3, respectively. The Order does not propose to increase the £1 fee payable on application for a patent. We are proposing to keep the fee at £1 in deference to views expressed in both Houses. In addition, a graduated scale for maximum renewal fees is substituted for the existing scale under which a renewal fee of £10 is chargeable for the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th year, a fee of £15 in the 9th and 10th years and a fee of £20 for each of the 11th to the 16th years. The present Order should thus give adequate scope for increasing fees without the House having to be troubled again to raise the maxima for some years. That does not mean that this Order will deprive Parliament of control over future increases. The fees themselves cannot be increased till amended rules are laid before Parliament. The House will, therefore, have an opportunity then of examining the way in which it is proposed to cover the deficit within the maxima here prescribed.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Patents (Fees Amendment) Order, 1961, a draft of which was laid before this House on 29th June, be approved.