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Science in Parliament and Government by Andrew Miller

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Andrew Miller looks at science in parliament and government, focusing particularly on the role of select committees, who forms them and hopw they work.

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Science in Parliament and Government by Andrew Miller

  1. 1. Science in Parliament & Government Andrew Miller Former chair House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee 1
  2. 2. Parliament & Science  Science within Parliament & Government  Select Committees and how they work  The Science & Technology Select Committee  How to influence science in Parliament 2
  3. 3. 3 Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary of State Minister for Universities and Science Director General, Science and Innovation Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) Government Office for Science Ministers Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers Independent Scientific Advisory Committees Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Departments Parliament POST Parliamentary and Scientific Committee Lords S+T Committee Commons S+T Committee Foresight Science in Government (SiG) InnovateUK National Academies Research Councils HEFCE
  4. 4. What is a select committee?  A committee of MPs from different parties working together on common issues  Role is to scrutinise the spending, administration and policies of a Government Department and its associated public bodies  Most shadow a particular department but S+T Committee shadows GO Science and therefore interprets its remit as cross-departmental 4
  5. 5. Members  Committee has 11 backbench MPs  Roughly proportionate to seats held in House  Chair elected by whole House  Members elected by their parties  Ministers, front bench opposition and whips cannot be members of select committees 5
  6. 6. Members Chris Green Carol Monaghan Graham Stringer Matt Warman Dr Tania Mathias Stella Creasy Nicola Blackwood (Chair) Jim Dowd Derek Thomas Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods Victoria Borwick Vancancy
  7. 7. Committee activities  Scrutinise Government and public bodies: – Inquiries on topics/policies/legislative scrutiny – One-off evidence sessions e.g. Science Question Times, pre/post appointment hearings  Other activities: seminars, briefings and visits 7
  8. 8. Inquiry process  Choose inquiry topic  Announce inquiry, terms of reference and call for evidence (up to 12 weeks)  Sometimes appoint special advisors  Hold oral evidence sessions  Draft, amend and agree report  Publish report (sometimes with a press launch)  There can be debates in the House  Government response, usually within 60 days8
  9. 9. Work during 2010-15 Parliament Session Session Session Session Total 2010-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 Meetings 67 36 44 28 175 Reports 15 9 9 9 42 Special 11 6 9 4 30 Reports Witnesses 262 104 160 142 668 Inquiries 29 14 19 14 76 Written evidence 834 264 526 292 1,9169
  10. 10. Reports 2010-15 Parliament 10
  11. 11. Reports during 2010-15 Parliament  Digital by default  Work of the European and UK Space Agencies  Pre-appointment hearing for Chair of NERC & AHRC  Climate: Public understanding and policy implications  Women in science  Government horizon scanning  Antimicrobial resistance  variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease  Astra Zeneca Pfizer  Blood Tissue & Organ screening  Mitochondrial donation 11
  12. 12.  Social media data  Health screening  Women in science  Practical science in schools  GM Foods  Biometrics  Science at Kew Gardens  Pre-Appointment BBSRC Chair  Committee Legacy 12 Reports during 2010-15 Parliament
  13. 13. Current Parliament (published)  The science budget  Science in emergencies: UK lessons from Ebola inquiry  The Big Data Dilemma  Investigatory Powers: technology issues  Zika virus  EU regulation of Life Sciences  Digital Skills crisis  Satellites and space 13
  14. 14. Current Parliament  Science in emergencies: chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents  Smart meters  Regenerative medicine  Graphene  Forensic science strategy  Robotics and artificial intelligence  Science communication  Digital skills  Managing Intellectual property transfer  Leaving the EU 14
  15. 15. 15 Dear Chancellor, Protecting and promoting science after the EU referendum result I wrote to you on 7 March about the science budget and other measures that the Science and Technology Committee wished to see taken forward to protect the UK science base. Following last Thursday's EU Referendum result, I am writing again to highlight the continuing importance of protecting our science and research, and to advise you that the Committee intends to move quickly to hold an inquiry into how that might best be done in the run up to leaving the EU. We propose to take evidence from ministers, including from BIS, as part of this inquiry. I would be grateful for your response on the points below in order to inform the Committee's work, and to give some assurances to the science community that the Government will not lose sight of the issues for science and research in exit negotiations. The Committee's report earlier this month on EU Regulation of the Life Sciences identified areas where, were we destined to remain in the EU, the Government should seek improvements in EU life-science regulatory processes. While we are now unlikely to have any meaningful role in that endeavour, our report highlighted significant benefits from our membership that should be preserved — an EU-wide regulatory system that drives research collaboration and allows access for UK science to the whole EU market. It is vital that the UK retains these collaboration and single market access benefits in whatever post-EU relationship we pursue, and I would be grateful for your thoughts on how this could be achieved. The UK has been a net receiver of EU research funding, and it is important that we maintain our access to EU research grants. As the Lords S&T Committee noted in its report on EU Membership and UK Science, the UK has been able to win a share of the EU's Horizon- 2020 funding which greatly exceeds what we have put into that pot. The UK has secured 15% of Horizon-2020 funding to date, second only to Germany. Some Associated Countries have been able to maintain access to Horizon-2020 funding, but the Government will need to learn from the cautionary tale of Switzerland, whose access to Horizon- 2020 was much restricted after it curtailed free movement of people, undermining the country's science sector. The Government's views on the scope for maintaining access to Horizon funding will form a useful part of our inquiry. As you noted in your Fixing the Foundations report last July, "there is a clear and robust evidence of a link between R&D spending and national productivity". Whatever the uncertainties that lie ahead, a strong Government commitment to the science budget is needed along with a roadmap for increasing UK expenditure on R&D as a share of GDP towards the rates of our competitors. In our Science Budget report last year, we called for spending of 3% of GDP to be the goal. This greater investment would need to come from the private sector as well as from Government. Now, more than ever, the Government will need to demonstrate how science and research is a fundamental building block of our future prosperity, to encourage that continuing private sector investment. If that private sector investment falls because of any transitional uncertainty, however, the Government should be ready to reassess its science budget funding to at least maintain current investment levels overall. The Committee, and the science community, will appreciate a clear view from the Treasury on how funding can be safeguarded in the context of Brexit, and grown in the longer term. The UK has also benefitted enormously from scientists, researchers and students coming to work in the UK from other parts of the EU and from further afield. Whatever migration policies are now put in place, we must remain an attractive place to do research. I would be grateful if you could set out your thoughts on how the Government can make it absolutely clear that the UK remains open and welcoming to such fundamentally important contributors to our research base, our economy, and our country. I am copying this to Jo Johnson in BIS and Oliver Letwin in the Cabinet Office, and I look forward to your response. Best wishes Nicola Blackwood MP Chair
  16. 16. How you can help Parliament  Select committees rely on evidence from credible sources  You can help the Committee in its work by: – Submitting written evidence – Suggesting witnesses for oral evidence – Suggesting ideas for inquiries (we keep a “long list” under regular review) – Engage with your MP 16
  17. 17. Further information  Commons S+T Committee www.parliament.uk/science  Guide for Select Committee Witnesses www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/witguide.htm  How Parliament works www.parliament.uk/about/how/committees/select.cfm  Select committee calendar www.parliament.uk/whats_on/hoc_news3.cfm Twitter @CommonsSTC17
  18. 18. Andrew.1949@outlook.com Thank you 18

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