§ Sir Alastair Goodlad
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what has been the outcome of her discussions with the Patent Office about the proposed EC Directive concerning the protection of biotechnological inventions and the potential implications for developing countries. 
§ Clare Short
The proposed EC Directive on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions is currently being considered by the European Parliament, following adoption of a Common Position by the Council of Ministers in February 1998. The Directive addresses which biotechnological inventions can be patented in Europe and does not affect national patent laws. When agreeing to support this Common Position, the UK set down a statement which noted that there had been no consideration as to whether the provisions of the Directive would be appropriate for other countries outside the European Union, in particular developing countries.
In its statement the UK also considered that in preparing its annual report on the development implications of patent law in the field of biotechnology and genetic engineering [under Article 16.3 of the proposal] the Commission should consider the breadth of patent rights, the effects of patents on research and, in accordance with Article 130v of the Treaty of Maastricht, take account of the implications for developing countries.