I beg to move,
(1) during proceedings on the Patents Bill [Lords] the Standing Committee shall, in addition to its first meeting on Tuesday 15th June at 10.30 a.m. meet—
(a) on Tuesday 15th June at 2.30 p.m,;
(b) on Thursday 17th June at 9.25 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.;
(2) the proceedings shall be taken in the following order namely, Clauses 1 to 5, Schedule 1, Clauses 6 to 15, Schedules 2 and 3, Clauses 16 and 17, new Clauses, new Schedules, remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(3) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5 pm on Thursday 17th June.
My first task is to welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Amess, and I take great pleasure in doing so. I have not served under your chairmanship before, but I am sure that your leadership and skill will get us through the Bill effectively and efficiently. I also welcome all members of the Committee.
On Second Reading, hon. Members on both sides of the House broadly welcomed the Bill. I hope that that will put us in good stead as we approach the detailed scrutiny. I wish the Committee well in its deliberations.
May I also say how honoured we all are to be under your chairmanship, Mr. Amess?
A matter of huge importance was raised on Second Reading, namely whether we were talking about ''pat-tents'' or ''pay-tents''. The hon. Member for Newport, West (Paul Flynn) led us down the garden path, I regret to say; he suggested that a short 'a' would allow his constituents to get home more quickly for tea. That may be true. The Minister then told us that the pronunciation depended on which area of the country one came from, but I am afraid that that, too, is incorrect. I have now been informed that it is pronounced ''pat-tents'', because it comes from the Latin patens, meaning open. When one discloses a secret, one is making it open, and one is therefore granted letters on the opening of it. That sounds hugely convincing.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who has already started scrutinising. I will take his word on the pronunciation of patent. Those who read the report of Second Reading were even more confused, because hon. Members also talked about the parent Bill and the patient Bill. I am afraid that we caused difficulties.
It is good to hear that the Bill is being talked about, at least in circles in which it matters, anyway.
The other issue I want to raise is the order in which we are to consider the clauses. Most unusually, the Bill deals with patents just as a regulatory reform order is going through its stages, so the measures that the Committee is considering might be changed under regulatory reform procedures, and although measures are being considered under the order, we might change them in Committee. That is potentially unsatisfactory. A note from the Library says that it has been assured by parliamentary counsel that it is possible to refer in a Bill to legislation that does not yet exist. I find that unsatisfactory, too; it is like trying to legislate on quicksand. Will the Minister comment on the fact that two groups of people are considering the same body of law, with potential consequences for both groups?
I, too, am pleased I am to be under your chairmanship, Mr. Amess. I was tempted to go out into the sunshine this morning, but I thought, ''No, this Committee will be so lively and well run that I must attend,'' so here I am.
Patently, we have come to a decision on whether we should say ''pat-tents'' or ''pay-tents''. I am already beginning to forget which it is; ''pay-tents'', I think. I congratulate the right hon. Member for North-East Hampshire (Mr. Arbuthnot) on having done the work on that.
As regards the timing in the programme motion, I expressed my concern on Second Reading that we were waiting for a key report. It had been promised to us in November, March and April; there is now talk of it arriving in the summer. It worries me that such a key report will not be available before the end of our discussions on the Bill. Apart from that, however, I am happy to proceed on the basis of the programme motion.
I am grateful to hon. Gentlemen for making their points in the way that they did. The right hon. Member for North-East Hampshire made a point about the regulatory reform order and the discussions that are taking place. I can assure hon. Members that there are no difficulties. I acknowledge and accept his concerns that there could be problems, but because the Bill has been drafted in the full light of everything that has taken place, I do not perceive that there will be any. As he rightly explained, it might be something for the House to examine; I understand that a procedure such as we are discussing has been adopted before. The provisions of the Bill that refer to the regulatory reform order are minor and will not come into force until that order does. I hope that that makes the matter clearer for him.
The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Brian Cotter) mentioned the report. I said that it would be produced in the summer and that is still the case. Although I acknowledge his concerns, I still think that we have the opportunity to scrutinise a Bill that has
been well consulted on. I hope that the Committee will be able to do that and will support the programme motion.
Question put and agreed to.
I remind hon. Members that adequate notice should be given on amendments. As a general rule, my fellow Chairman and I do not intend to call starred amendments, including any such amendments that may be reached during an afternoon sitting.Clause 1 Methods of treatment or diagnosis