§ Mr. Mitchell
To ask the President of the Board of Trade when the draft Life Patent directive under consideration in the European Parliament was(a) published for consideration by the Council of Ministers and (b) considered by them; what recommendation they made on the directive, what consultations Her Majesty's Government have entered into with interested bodies in 140W the United Kingdom; if the Government have signed the requisite Explanatory Memorandum; and what parliamentary scrutiny this directive will receive. 
§ Mr. Battle
The Commission's proposal for a Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions was published on 13 December 1995, and formally sent to the Council of Ministers on 25 January 1996. The Opinion of the European Parliament on the Commission's proposal is still awaited and to date consideration by the Council has taken place only at official level. No recommendation have emerged.
The Commission's proposal was circulated for comment in February 1996 to some 50 interest groups representing the professions, industry, consumers, trades unions, the research community, groups concerned with social and environmental impact of biotechnology, and including member organisations of the Standing Advisory Committee on Industrial Property, a body set up to advise Ministers on all aspects of industrial property.
An Explanatory Memorandum was submitted by this Department on 4 March 1996, and further Memoranda will be submitted as matters proceed before the Council.