Cameron Said to Speed Up Patent Process to Boost Economy
David Cameron will speed up the patents applications process and simplify intellectual-property rights for design companies as part of his next legislative program, a person familiar with the U.K.’s premier’s plans said.
The measures are aimed at boosting the economy and will be at the center of the government’s agenda announced by Queen Elizabeth II when she formally opens Parliament in London on May 8, said the person, who asked not to be named as lawmakers have yet to be told of the plans.
An energy bill encouraging 110 billion pounds ($171 billion) of investment in the electricity industry, another bill cutting national-insurance contributions -- a levy on employers -- for small businesses, and legislation to support the construction of the HS2 high-speed rail link between London and the north of England will also be included, the person said.
By putting the economy at the heart of his next parliamentary agenda, Cameron is recognizing that it will be sustained growth that wins or loses him national elections in two years’ time. There are tentative signs of a recovery, with gross domestic product rising 0.3 percent in the first quarter, and figures last week showing indexes of manufacturing and construction rose more than economists forecast.
Still, smarting from losses in local elections last week, Cameron’s own Tory lawmakers are questioning his judgment and he may have difficulty pushing through Parliament bills that are not fundamental to their concerns. The Tories’ coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, are also increasingly blocking measures they consider may affect their own electoral chances.
The queen will announce a bill to modernize intellectual property, allowing the U.K. to implement the Unitary Patent and Court Agreement, a pan-European deal to standardize the patents process. This could mean direct savings to U.K. business of as much as 40 million pounds a year in translation costs, the person said. Hosting part of the unified patent court in London might benefit the economy by about 200 million pounds a year.
The bill will also simplify and strengthen design protection, the person said, adding that government figures show that U.K. companies invested 15.5 billion pounds in design in 2009, representing 1.1 percent of GDP.
The energy bill aims to ensure that as older power plants close and demand increases, the U.K remains able to generate enough electricity.
There will also be a bill focusing entirely on deregulation for business to reduce burdens on small companies. Measures are likely to include exemptions from health and safety law for the self-employed whose work activities pose no harm to others, the person said.
A conference with around 300 financial leaders and chief executive officers from around the world will be held in London on May 9 to boost business investment, the person said.
Speakers will include International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Prudential Plc CEO Tidjane Thiam and AON Plc CEO Gregory Case, as well as senior ministers.
The pageantry of the Queen’s Speech starts on the morning of May 8, when the Yeomen of the Guard, the Royal bodyguards known as “Beefeaters,” search the cellars of parliament. The tradition dates back to 1605, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the building and King James I with it.
Later, David Leakey, who has the title Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, will march to the House of Commons, the lower, elected, chamber. His job is to summon lawmakers to hear the Queen, who waited in the House of Lords, the upper, unelected chamber. The door of the Commons, as per tradition, will be slammed in his face.
This ritual symbolizes the independence of the Commons from the Crown: no British monarch has entered the lower house since 1642, when King Charles I tried to arrest five members in the run-up to a civil war that ended with his execution in 1649.
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