First Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.


Wednesday 21 June 1989



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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Mr. Geraint Howells

Bennett, Mr. Andrew F. (Denton and Reddish)

Dicks, Mr. Terry (Hayes and Hartington)

Dorell, Mr. Stephen (Loughborough)

Forth, Mr. Eric (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Consumer Affairs)

Hordern, Sir Peter (Horsham)

Hughes, Mr. Robert G. (Harrow, West)

Jesse, Mr. Toby (Twickenham)

Kennedy, Mr. Charles (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

Knapman, Mr. Roger (Stroud)

Marland, Mr. Paul (Gloucestershire, West)

Martlew, Mr. Eric (Carlisle)

Mills, Mr. Iain (Meriden)

Moonie, Dr. Lewis (Kirkcaldy)

Mullin, Mr. Chris (Sunderland, South)

Stott, Mr. Roger (Wigan)

Thurnham, Mr. Peter (Bolton, North-East)

Wardell, Mr. Gareth (Gower)

Widdecombe, Miss Ann (Maidstone)

Mr. D. J. Gerhold, Committee Clerk

3 First Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Wednesday 21 June 1989

[MR. GERAINT HOWELLS in the Chair]

Draft Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989

10.30 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Consumer Affairs (Mr. Eric Forth): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989 What I am asking the Committee to approve today is quite straightforward; it is for the law on the protection of original designs of integrated circuits to be left essentially as it is. The only real change is the implementation of a second decision of the Council of Ministers. That extends the protection given to integrated circuit designs in Europe to designs from Japan, from some countries of the European Free Trade Association, and from the French dependencies. There is also the technical matter of making several changes, most of them minor, to the regime of design right protection set out in Part III of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. But that was always foreseen. Indeed, the Act itself includes powers to make some of the changes. We are not doing anything of significance, and our consultations with industry have shown that it is content with the draft. Therefore, I hope that the Committee will feel it right to approve the statutory instrument needed to achieve that result.

10.31 am

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish): In the absence of a spokesman from the Opposition Front Bench, or explanation of why my hon. Friends are not here this morning, I thank the Minister. I am 4 still in doubt as to what the regulations do. Will the Minister explain the explanatory notes on the back of the regulations? Explanatory notes should make such regulations a little clearer to the general public. There are fairly strong instructions on drawing up statutory instruments, and the notes should be a little more informative. Will the Minister also say which groups of people made representations about the regulations, and whether any of them said that they were unhappy with them.

Mr. Forth: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman finds the explanatory notes so opaque. He will realise that we have to strike a balance, providing adequate information without overburdening the document with excessive information. Having read the explanatory notes carefully several times, I believe that they strike that balance. They indicate the substance of each part of the order, and show briefly what is covered. I hope that the Committee agrees that we are dealing with a technical matter. It is almost certain that everyone affected will already be knowledgeable and aware of the area covered by the regulations, both in general principles of copyright and design, and about specifics. Anything with the title "semiconductor topographies" would attract only those who wanted further information. If the hon. Gentleman wants to press the point, I shall try to answer him. In answer to the hon. Gentleman's second question, we consulted the Electronic Engineering Association, the British Computer Society, the Electronic Components Industry Federation and the Chartered Institute of Patent Agents. They were all happy with the content and direction of the regulations. I hope that the Committee will approve them.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft Design Right (Semiconductor Topographies) Regulations 1989.

Committee rose at twenty-six minutes to Eleven o'clock.


Howells, Mr. Geraint (Chairman)

Bennett, Mr. Andrew F.

Dicks, Mr.

Dorrell, Mr.

Forth, Mr.

Hordern, Sir P.

Hughes, Mr. Robert G.

Knapman, Mr.

Martlew, Mr.

Mills, Mr.

Thurnham, Mr.

Widdecombe, Miss