I should like to support what Deputy O'Malley has said. He has raised a very important matter here, one which all of us, including myself, might have overlooked. We are indebted to the Deputy for raising it. It does not seem at first sight immediately relevant but, on reflection, for the reasons he has given, it is relevant. I should like to focus on two of these reasons in a particular way.
First, there is the question of the protection of the patent both from the point of view of the individual or group entitled to the rights arising out of their ingenuity. This is more than mere justice; it is a matter of some importance for our own citizens, helping and supporting them to secure their rights, rights that of their nature are very open to be exploited by external and larger interests. That is the point Deputy O'Malley has been making. Further, from the national point of view and the economic viewpoint of the community there is the question of both prestige and the economic advantage arising from such patents and the exploitation of that for the benefit of our own people. For this in the modern situation we require activity going beyond our own borders. In most cases it will surely mean negotiations with bodies outside this country or asserting rights through agencies outside this country. No small group or an individual can hope to do this because of lack of facilities, lack of communication and finance. Therefore, on the first leg of the point Deputy O'Malley has made in regard to assisting in registration of patents, there seems to be a very strong case for including something of this nature here.
When a patent is effectively registered and the title to it is secured whether with or without the assistance of the Board or the State—it will normally be the State—there is the question of its application and development for the benefit of the community. Before leaving the first point I should like to say that inevitably if a substantial question of this nature arises there will be an application to the State for support or assistance and obviously this body is the one that is ready-made to provide it. On the question of exploitation and provision of funds, again the Board appear to have a function. In fact, I should like to see Deputy O'Malley's amendment somewhat expanded so that the idea would be captured within the provisions of budget-making powers and the provision of funds by the Board. In the Committee of Public Accounts not very long ago we had a rather interesting example of this where a board of this nature would have been of great assistance to the State and would have been functioning within the structure of this Bill, it was this.
In the Department of Defence, through the interest of Professor Timoney, there was the development of armoured vehicles which not only were required here but, if they had been developed here, that would have meant the investment of the required money in Ireland instead of abroad. It was a substantial matter and there was also the possibility of exploitation elsewhere. This was sponsored by the Department of Defence who, quite rightly, did everything possible to promote it. In the ordinary mechanics of today, the Comptroller and Auditor General raised some points and it was necessary for the committee of Public Accounts to go into this matter in a little detail which strictly speaking, was not their business because they could only report within their own ambit. Finally, it was thought desirable to bring Dáil Members to see these vehicles. I do not think there is any Deputy who had the slightest doubt about the desirability and propriety of what was done in this case, but the machinery available resulted in a great loss of time, a certain amount of internal friction and may have been more of an obstruction than a help in securing this very valuable work which could have been quickly developed and exploited both for our national prestige and our economic advantage. These two points are merely glosses on what Deputy O'Malley said.