HC Deb 23 March 1961 vol 637 cc550-1
2. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is now in a position to implement the recommendations of the Engholm Committee; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Soames

With my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, I am closely studying this Committee's proposals in the light of views submitted by the organisations representing the various interests concerned. I hope before long to make a statement on the Government's intentions.

Mr. Farr

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but may I remind him that it is almost the same as the reply I received about five months ago to a similar Question? May I further remind him that it is very urgent to get some legislation on the go now to protect our plant and seed breeders from pirating of varieties?

Mr. Soames

If my hon. Friend asked a Question five months ago, it must have been very shortly after I had received the Report. Having received the Report, I took the right procedure of sending it to interested parties to get their comments. I asked for their comments by February of this year, which gave them a reasonable time. This is an important matter, and they wanted time to think about it. We received all the comments last month, and it remains now for me to examine the Report against the background and in the light of those comments. I hope that it will not be very much longer before I shall be able to give the House the result of our considerations, but I do not think that I can accept it as being unreasonably long.

Mr. B. Harrison

Will my right hon. Friend consider specifying a date prior to the legislation from which it will be possible retrospectively to claim royalties if the House approves legislation on this matter?

Mr. Soames

I will consider what my hon. Friend said, but I know that he would not expect me to commit myself in any way this afternoon.

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