HC Deb 01 February 1982 vol 17 cc7-8
8. Mr. Robert Sheldon

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether any decision has yet been reached on the siting of the European Economic Community's trade mark office.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Reginald Eyre)

The Council of Ministers will in due course decide where the European Community trade mark office should be located. Four member States, including the United Kingdom, have formally offered to receive the office. The United Kingdom proposed London over eight years ago and has recently reminded the Community of its bid by widely distributing a brochure which the Government produced jointly with the Greater London Council.

Mr. Sheldon

Is it not clear that the site of London was proposed in 1973 and has not been seriously looked at since? Is it not also clear that Manchester, with its long history of trade mark registry, going back to the early days of the cotton industry, is superbly well qualified to receive the office? Does the Minister agree that Manchester, with its communications and its many other advantages, is mirrored only by Munich and other regional centres in the Community in attracting certain offices? Why have we not impressed strongly on the EEC the need to locate such offices in Britain?

Mr. Eyre

The right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the bid was made originally in 1973. It was confirmed by successive Governments thereafter, in particular in 1978 and 1980. I have regularly given my support to regional projects and would gladly do so now if I thought that they would succeed, but the plain truth is that the competition from other European Community countries is so intense that I believe we can succeed only by putting forward our strongest contender. That must be London, which has by far the highest concentration of professional expertise in Britain—10 times greater than Manchester. The convenience for world-wide access cannot be matched by any other centre in Britain.

Mr. Dykes

Is my hon. Friend aware that there will be great support for his argument in favour of London? Will he confirm that the three examples given in the brochure are examples only of possible locations? Will he look carefully at the possibility of locating the office—if we get it—in other parts of London, including the London borough of Harrow, which has a very strong case?

Mr. Eyre

I should like to emphasise the tremendous importance to the United Kingdom of being successful in the bid to secure the European Community trade mark office, otherwise there will be a danger of a drift of industrial property work away from the United Kingdom, as happened when the European patent office was sited at Munich.

The sites specified as examples were chosen because of their nearness to the patent office and to Heathrow airport, but any sites in the London area will be given further consideration at a later stage.

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