§ Mr. Dalyell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many patent applications have been passed to his 373W Department under section 22 of the Patents Act 1977 in each year since its implementation; how many are still held by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the procedures followed by his Department in respect of this matter. 
§ Mr. Spellar
MOD records show that 4,700 Patent Applications were passed to MOD in the period 1985–98, of which 1,669 are still prohibited from publication. The total number of applications passed to MOD between 1978, when the Patents Act was implemented, and 1984 is not available, because the only information in the computer database relates to those applications which are still subject to prohibition; 471 applications from that period are still subject to a Section 22 prohibition order. Annual summaries of these figures follow: Of the overall total of 2,140 cases still prohibited from publication, 927 are overseas patent applications, which have been filed under secure conditions in the UK. These come from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States of America, countries with which the UK has reciprocal arrangements for the protection of applications which have been prohibited from publication, and which have procedures similar to Section 22 of the 1977 Patents Act.
The MOD may not see any prohibited application until either the owner of the application has given permission for this, or until 18 months after the filing date, if such permission is not forthcoming. The MOD endeavours to confirm a prohibition order, or to recommend rescission of the order, within three months of receipt of the applications. 85 per cent. of new applications are dealt with within this time.
Each application which is prohibited from publication is reviewed annually by MOD to decide whether the prohibition order should be maintained or rescinded.