HC Deb 15 March 1967 vol 743 cc481-3

46. Mr. Patrick Jenkin asked the President of the Board of Trade when he will announce the results of his current review to move the Patent Office from its present location in central London.

Mr. Darling

After close examination, I have decided that the site which was being considered in Croydon would not be suitable for the Patent Office. We shall be examining other possible locations.

Mr. Jenkin

Does the Minister of State recognise that that Answer, which conflicts completely with the Answers that he has given to the House hitherto on this subject, is none the less welcome, and that many of those who use the Patent Office will be very glad that he has reconsidered this particular proposal? Will he also reconsider the suggestion to move the Patent Office out of London altogether? Does he not recognise that there is a very considerable case for keeping this office in the centre of London, where it is easy of access, particularly for people from abroad?

Mr. Darling

I will not accept that Answer that I have just given conflicts with anything that I have said before. Croydon would have been a most satisfactory location if we had been able to find either a suitable site or suitable buildings. We were unable to find either.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Does the Minister appreciate that, contrary to the view expressed by my hon. Friend, the Answer that he has given will bring great disappointment to Croydon, because we were hoping to welcome the staff of the Patent Office within our town? Is this the end of his interest in Croydon or is it a turning down of the Trinity site? Would the right hon. Gentleman consider other sites in Croydon?

Mr. Darling

All the other available sites in Croydon have been examined. With regard to the second part of the supplementary question of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Patrick Jenkin), which I did not answer, we shall go on looking for suitable sites on the perimeter of London because we think that the Patent Office, and a number of other enterprises in the centre of London, ought to move out.

Mr. Rankin

Would my hon. Friend also remember that there are plenty of suitable sites in Scotland? Does he realise that Scotland is not getting a fair crack of the whip in these matters?

Mr. Darling

I agree that we should try to put more offices of various kinds into Scotland, but in this case the Patent Office needs to be, at the most, one hour's travel from the centre of London.

Sir J. Eden

Has the right hon. Gentleman completely forgotten that on 8th December last he said that he had gone very carefully into the pros and cons of this move? Will he try his best to keep this office in the centre of London, where it obviously should be?

Mr. Darling

I certainly do not agree that it should be in the centre of London. We will go on looking for a suitable location.

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