HC Deb 20 June 1956 vol 554 cc111-2W
Mr. Kirk

asked the President of the Board of Trade what the Committee of Inquiry on the use of unpatented inventions for defence production reported; and what action the Government propose to take with regard to these matters.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The Report of this Committee is being published today. The Committee, for whose help I am deeply grateful, consisted of Sir Harold Howitt, G.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., F.C.A., Sir Robert Barlow and Mr. John Megaw. Q.C. They recommend that the Crown should be given permanent powers to authorise the use of unpatented inventions and unregistered designs in connection with defence and Civil Defence contracts, subject to strict provisions which they have worked out to give proper safeguards to industrial interests.

After careful consideration, the Government have decided to accept the Committee's main recommendations with one modification. The Committee recommend that the taking of certain decisions should be confined, by legislation, to the appropriate Minister or the permanent head of his Department. Instead, administrative steps will be taken to ensure that these decisions are taken by Ministers or senior officials only.

I propose to discuss the recommendations in detail with industrial organisations, and to introduce legislation to give effect to them as soon as is practicable. This legislation will enable the emergency powers under which Departments have been operating to be revoked.

I am looking further into a point raised by the Committee relating to Section 47 (1) of the Patents Act, 1949.

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