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Trade Mark Office

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received concerning the siting of the European Economic Commission trade mark office in Greater Manchester.

The Manchester chamber of commerce and industry, supported by the Manchester city council and other local interests, has written to urge that Manchester should be offered as the site for the proposed Community trade mark office. I have also had the opportunity of meeting representatives of the Manchester chamber at which all aspects of this question were discussed. While I understand the concern to aid a regional centre, it must be remembered that there are strong counter-proposals from the Continent. If we are to succeed in our efforts to bring this office to the United Kingdom, we must offer our strongest contender. In my view, this remains London.

Is the Minister seriously suggesting that Manchester, with its historic links with this subject and its magnificant communications network, cannot compete with The Hague and Strasbourg in this matter? Is he aware that in Greater Manchester two sites are on offer—in the city of Manchester and in Stockport? Is he further aware that, once again, the North-West feels that the Government are not really serious about regional policy?

I come from a regional centre, and I have repeatedly given my support to regional projects. In this case, however, the interest of the United Kingdom as a whole must prevail. I am convinced that the offer of a London site is essential to the success of our bid.

Will the Minister explain why Britain has signally failed in putting forward regional centres for EEC institutions?

With respect, that is not entirely correct. The bid for the Patent Office was rather late, but it was inevitable that it would be decided against us. That makes it the more important that we should succeed in attracting the trade mark office. London is the centre for trade mark work in the United Kingdom, and one of the world's foremost industrial property centres.

Since the United Kingdom has nothing like its fair share of EEC offices, is not our claim so strong that we could both demand to have the office here and meet the claims of regional policy?

I understand my hon. Friend's point, but if he considers the strength of the bids being made by Brussels, The Hague and Strasbourg, I think that he will understand that it is essential that we put forward the strongest claim that we possibly can on behalf of the United Kingdom.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I wish to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.