HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc146-7W
Mr. Gould

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what changes in expenditure and staffing are expected as a consequence of the Patent Office becoming a statutory non-departmental body;

(2) what is the proposed relationship to his Department and source of funding of the Patent office when it becomes a statutory non-departmental body;

(3) pursuant to his answer of 13 January, Official Report, column 454, what aspects of the traditional Civil Service framework of the Patent Office currently inhibit its responsiveness to the needs of innovation; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Pattie

The Patent Office's demands for manpower and other resources are at present considered in the context of the Department of Trade and Industry as a whole and in competition with other valid claims on the Department's limited resources. The Patent Office has, therefore, to keep its operations to the minimum necessary to meet its statutory obligations.

As a non-departmental body, the office will be obliged to be self-supporting from fees and charges which will be its regular source of funding and which will continue to be determined in relation to costs. My right hon. and learned Friend, the Secretary of State, intends to retain the power to set targets and appoint a management board which will give general direction and guidance to the comptroller on the running of the office. Within this framework, however, the office will be free to respond to the needs of its customers. Apart from the Secretary of State's general control, it will be independent of my Department and its staff will not be civil servants. There may be some small increase in Patent Office staff to carry out functions now performed centrally in my Department.

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