Category Archives: Devolved Elections

Preserving a Scottish science and engineering legacy

We need a Science Minister in Scotland. Science and engineering has an impact, and is affected by a huge range of government activities – so a failure to adequately represent them could lead to Scotland falling behind in the global high-tech race.

Scotland has an immensely rich history in science and technology innovation, cultivating figures such as John Logie Baird, inventor of the television and James Maxwell, the distinguished physicist. However, this history needs to be built upon with political support. Read More »

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Science in Stormont

People came from across science and engineering to fill the Long Gallery at Stormont Castle last week, hoping to achieve a new level of political engagement in Northern Ireland.

The event, Science and the Northern Ireland Assembly, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and cosponsored by CaSE, had cross party support from Basil McCrea MLA, Sue Ramsey MLA and John McCallister MLA.  Several other Members of the Legislative Assembly, including the First Minister, Peter Robinson, and the leader of the Ulster Unionists, Tom Elliot, came by and heard about the importance of science and engineering for Northern Ireland.

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Women in Technology & Science: Northern Ireland

WITS has been established in Ireland for 21 years; the 21st anniversary will be celebrated at an event on June 25th this year.  With an objective to promote women in technology and science across the whole island of Ireland, its reach into Northern Ireland has now been augmented by the development of a Northern Ireland chapter, WITS NI.

As co-founders with different backgrounds – Bernie Hannigan from life sciences academia and policy and Christian Field from academic chemistry and business software development – both of us felt that we knew quite a few women in the province who could benefit from involvement in WITS.

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Making the CaSE in Northern Ireland

Last week’s Northern Ireland Assembly election turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib for the political classes and media commentators who had so enthusiastically gathered to pick over the results. The outcome maintained the status quo in many ways, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein receiving a renewed mandate to continue as the two largest parties within the mandatory coalition.

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Key STEM Comparisons Across the UK

How do the different nations of the UK fair against each other when it comes to funding science and engineering?

CaSE has written to all the incoming politicians from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland about the importance of science and engineering. We’re sending them our report, Science, Engineering and the Devolved Nations.

That report includes a compelling visualisation, shown below, of different sorts of research or STEM funding (grouped as direct devolved/Westminster spending, and competitive funding from public and private sources), shown by share of UK total for each Nation, and compared to a baseline share of UK population. We struggled to find comparable data for some of these statistics, there’s more information on sources in our background document.

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Northern Ireland Party Commitments

CaSE Analysis of Core Commitments - Northern Ireland Elections, 2011

CaSE wrote to each of the main political leaders in Northern Ireland, asking them to set out their policies on science and engineering ahead of the 2011 elections. All of the parties, bar Sinn Fein, responded. We have analysed the responses, and taken further detail from the party manifestos, to set out what we think their key commitments on science and engineering are.

We do not claim that this analysis is definitive, and we have focused on policies affecting science and engineering, rather than their use – this excludes details on transport, energy, and health infrastructure, for instance. We would therefore recommend that you read the party manifestos and letters for a comprehensive policy overview.

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Welsh Party Commmitments

CaSE Analysis of Core Commitments - Welsh Assembly Elections 2011

CaSE wrote to each of the main political leaders in Wales, asking them to set out their policies on science and engineering ahead of the 2011 Welsh Assembly Elections. All of the parties, bar the Green Party, responded. We have analysed the responses, and taken further detail from the party manifestos, to set out what we think their key commitments on science and engineering are. 

We do not claim that this analysis is definitive, and we have focused on policies affecting science and engineering, rather than their use – this excludes details on (transport, energy, and health infrastructure, for instance. We would therefore recommend that you read the party manifestos and letters for a comprehensive policy overview.

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Scottish Party Commitments

CaSE Analysis of Core Commitments – Scottish elections 2011

CaSE wrote to each of the main political leaders in Scotland, asking them to set out their policies on science and engineering ahead of the 2011 elections. All of the parties responded. We have analysed the responses, and taken further detail from the party manifestos, to set out what we think their key commitments on science and engineering are.

We do not claim that this analysis is definitive, and we have focused on policies affecting science and engineering, rather than their use – this excludes details on transport, energy, and health infrastructure, for instance. We would therefore recommend that you read the party manifestos and letters for a comprehensive policy overview.

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Leaders respond to our election challenge

The public in the devolved nations are increasingly interested in science and engineering. By the time people cast their votes, they need to know how each party would respond to the challenges facing science and engineering.

CaSE has written to the leaders of the political parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland asking them to set out their policies for science and engineering in advance of the devolved elections. We are publishing their responses below, as we receive them.

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Scottish Green Party respond to CaSE

Thank you for your letter asking the Scottish Green Party to set out its science and engineering policies ahead of the 2011 Election.

The Scottish Green Party believes that science and technology have huge potential to bring benefits to society in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way. It is vital to encourage and promote scientific research, development and application. We can certainly commit to the continuation of the role of Chief Scientific Advisor. This role has been important in challenging the assumptions which underpin government policy, such as the decision to approve a new coal-fired power station before carbon capture and storage has been developed.

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Scottish Labour respond to CaSE

Thank you for your letter of 21 March. I absolutely agree that science and engineering are crucial to Scotland’s future and I value the commitment of the Campaign for Science and Engineering in keeping these vital issues high in the political agenda.

Science and engineering are key to Scotland’s future success. I have set out ambitious but realistic plans to create 250,000 jobs in Scotland over the next decade, and emerging technologies in low-carbon industries are critical to its success.

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SNP respond to CaSE

Science, Engineering and Policy-making – What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Scotland? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister, and recommit to a Chief Scientific Advisor?

Our manifesto commits us to developing a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Scotland, led by the Chief Scientific Adviser, and this will be taken forward after the election.

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Scottish Liberal Democrats respond to CaSE

One of the genuine success stories in the last generation has been the growth in the reputation of Scotland’s research and science capacity. Life sciences alone contribute £3 billion to the Scottish economy. In proportion to the size of our country, Scottish scientific research is cited more often than any other in the world.

Scotland can be immensely proud of this achievement.

Now we should aspire to go further still.  Publicly funded science and research has been a massive success in recent times, but Scotland’s private industrial research investment is only about one third of the UK level at only 0.6 per cent of GDP.

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SDLP respond to CaSE

1. [What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Northern Ireland? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister and a Chief Scientific Advisor?]

The SDLP believes that government should widely consult in order to gather expert knowledge and opinion, to inform the decision-making process. For example, we rejected the flawed 2011- 2015 Budget, and proposed recasting the Budget so that all of the sectoral interests in society – government, business, trade unions, the community and voluntary sector, and wider civic society – enter into a contract on a set of negotiated economic and social outcomes.

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Alliance Party respond to CaSE

As Northern Ireland starts to get back on its feet after the economic downturn, we must make sure that our economy is best adapted to take advantage of new opportunities in new markets and in new sectors.  At the top of the list is research and innovation, which are key to making our economy competitive and would help facilitate economic growth.

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Welsh Conservatives respond to CaSE

1. [What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Wales? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister, and recommit to a Chief Scientific Advisor?]

Welsh Conservatives highly value science and engineering. We are committed to improving STEM subject teaching through our Teach Wales programme, and value thorough consultation with industry sectors when making important policy decisions that could impact science and engineering sectors.

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Welsh Labour respond to CaSE

Welsh Labour is clear about the importance of science and engineering in our lives and to our ambitions for the future of Wales, and we have demonstrated this through our policies in government.

One of my first actions on becoming First Minister was to appoint Lesley Griffiths as a Deputy Minister with specific responsibility for science.

We have subsequently taken a number of positive steps to promote science and engineering, which Welsh Labour are committed to building on in the next Assembly term.

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DUP respond to CaSE

1. [What commitments will your party make to ensure that science and engineering advice is at the heart of evidence-based policy making within government? What are your plans for setting out a long-term strategy for science and engineering in Northern Ireland? Will you commit to appointing a dedicated Science Minister and a Chief Scientific Advisor?]

The DUP recognises the crucial need for STEM expertise in growing our economy and ensuring a highly-skilled workforce. The fledgling Assembly has completed a full four-year term. As we develop our political institutions we want to ensure the highest quality evidence-based public policy development, and that we harness expert advice. It is our intention to reduce the number of Government Departments and Ministers rather than creating more but we see no reason why a specific Minister couldn’t be directly accountable for science alongside other responsibilities.

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Ulster Unionists respond to CaSE

STEM subjects had not been as high on the policy agenda in Northern Ireland than in other regions of the United Kingdom, or the Republic of Ireland for many years. Nevertheless the Ulster Unionist Party took the decision that when we took up the Employment and Learning Ministry in Ma7 2007 we would change this.

We recognise that the science and engineering research base is the foundation of many aspects of policy throughout government departments and consequently if we fail to pay it the attention that it deserves, in the long term we would only be limiting Northern Ireland’s potential for growth.

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Making Wales a clever country

Universities in Wales are under scrutiny as never before. Leighton Andrews, the Minister of Education within the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) has declared that universities must ‘adapt or die’. The yardstick against which such adaptation is to be measured is the WAG ‘For our Future’ document which sets out specific actions which WAG wishes universities in Wales to take.

Strong impetus for this agenda has been provided by the McCormick report published in March 2011 which gave special attention to the University of Wales – now a shadow of its former self following the withdrawal of the pre-1992 universities from the previous federal university.

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