HL Deb 26 March 1987 vol 486 cc340-1

6.34 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Restriction of acts authorised by certain licences]:

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 1: Page 1, line 9, leave out from ("patent") to ("for") in line 11

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving the amendment, I will speak also to Amendment No. 2. These are purely drafting amendments. As your Lordships are aware, I made clear on Second Reading that the Government were kind enough to authorise the parliamentary draftsman to assist with the Bill. The draftsman has advised on the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Stallard, which is the subject of Amendment No. 1 now under consideration. When my noble friend moved it, he proposed its inclusion at a point in the Bill which the draftsman suggested was not the correct point.

The purpose of Amendment No. 1 is to leave out words from page 1, line 9. Words to this effect would be inserted by Amendment No. 2 at the top of page 2 of the Bill with the remarshalling of the contents of subsection (4) to make room for the necessary insertion at that point of the Bill. I repeat that this is a drafting amendment to move a phrase from one part of the Bill to another.

I give full assurance to my noble friend who first moved the amendment that Amendment No. 1 does not alter the sense of his amendment, which was carried. Indeed, the parliamentary draftsman advises that the purpose, intent and clarity of the amendment is improved by its inclusion at this new point in the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Northfield moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, leave out lines 3 to 11 and insert— ("(4) A declaration may not be filed—

  1. (a) in respect of a patent which has at the commencement of the Patents (Amendment) Act 1987 passed the end of its fifteenth year; or
  2. (b) if at the date of filing there is—
    1. (i) an existing licence for any description of pharmaceutical use of the product, or
    2. (ii) an outstanding application under section 46(3)(a) or (b) above for the settlement by the comptroller of the terms of a licence for any description of pharmaceutical use of the product,
    and, in either case, the licence took or is to take effect at or after the end of the sixteenth year of the patent.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I have spoken to the amendment. I beg to move.

Viscount Craigavon

My Lords, I missed the opportunity to speak on Amendment No. 1. May I speak on Amendment No. 2 in relation to what the noble Lord has said as I have been involved in the Bill?

I am grateful for the amendment. As the noble Lord said, it makes the situation more intelligible. The amendment refers to the timescale of the effect of the Bill. I mentioned at another stage of the Bill last week the danger of wasting parliamentary time. I do not know what fraternal communications the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, has with his Front Bench, but I have to rely on other sources. May I ask about an article that appears in today's issue of the Guardian at page 5 by an experienced lobby journalist. It says: The Shadow Cabinet has decided to kill a private member's bill by Lord Northfield". The next paragraph continues: The decision follows a debate in the Shadow Cabinet with strong feeling expressed by the party's front bench that the bill, introduced in the Lords, runs contrary to Labour policy and cannot be allowed to succeed by passing through the Commons unchallenged. Labour MPs can be expected to object to the Bill when it comes to the Commons, which means it will automatically fall". I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Northfield, wishes to say anything about that when he comes to reply to the amendment.

Lord Williams of Elvel

My Lords, the noble Viscount has asked about the attitude of the Labour Front Bench. The Labour Front Bench in this House is the Front Bench for this House. What discussions may have taken place among Members of another place is confidential to those people and is not a matter that properly concerns your Lordships.

I have no idea what discussions took place. I do not believe that the Guardian is a privileged source of information. I do not believe that the Guardian has a member of the Shadow Cabinet on its payroll, although I could be mistaken. I do not believe that any newspaper has a member of the Shadow Cabinet on its payroll.

If the noble Viscount likes to quote newspapers and ask the Labour Front Bench what our attitude is to this or to anything else, I can only say to the noble Viscount, do not always believe everything that you read in the newspapers.

On Question. amendment agreed to.