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Patent Office

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 22 July 1993

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To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is his latest estimate of the cost of the consultants' examination of the Patent Office that is now taking place.

The consultants' contract for the Patent Office study is commercially confidential. It is not, therefore, appropriate to disclose the estimated cost.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will set out the timescale for the work of the consultants on the Patent Office, including the date when the consultants expect to (a) conclude and (b) publish their report.

[holding answer 20 July 1993]: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 20 July 1993, Official Report, column 136, and the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) on 30 June 1993, Official Report, column 512.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade, if he will list those groups and individuals in the Patent Office who were offered assistance from consultancies in the current market testing exercise.

Consultancy help was offered to, and accepted by, the in-house reprographics team, which received assistance from a firm of management consultants in formulating its bid.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will set out the arrangements he made for in-house bids for the market testing programme at the Patent Office.

The terms of reference of the market test were set out in a notice to all staff on 6 November 1992, following consultation with the local trade unions. This drew specific attention to the opportunity for making in-house bids.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade which categories of work at the Patent Office are (a) currently being market tested and (b) being considered for future market testing.

The current programme which is nearing completion, having entered the consultation phase, includes reprographics, messenger and post despatch services, file repository, stationery, trade marks data capture and trade marks referencing. Market testing will be applied in due course to other Patent Office work, but no decisions have been taken on the context of next year's programme.