In a letter organised by CaSE today, leading figures from the science and engineering policy community have warned that potential budget cuts to the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) threaten the quality of scientific advice in Westminster.
Most parliamentarians do not have a scientific or technological background, and yet science and technology issues are increasingly integral to policy, across a wide range of subject areas. POST helps parliamentarians to examine such issues effectively by writing briefings, organising events and helping politicians engage with the scientific community.
However, as part of a savings programme being introduced across the House of Commons, the office is facing a 17% cut in its budget, or £98,000, by 2014/15. Taken alongside a recent voluntary reduction of 7%, it means that POST could potentially lose almost a quarter of its budget in a relatively short period of time. Such large cuts threaten to undermine the quality, scope and independence of the scientific and technological advice on offer.
Commenting on the letter, CaSE Director Imran Khan said:
“POST provides a crucial service in ensuring our Parliamentarians make informed decisions on policy and are fully engaged with the scientific community. Disproportionate cuts like those being considered could have far-reaching implications on policy making and, ultimately, the future health and prosperity of the the UK.”
“CaSE calls upon the House of Commons to sustain and support POST by making clear that it has a valued and adequately-funded future inside Parliament.”
CaSE’s letter has been sent to the House of Commons Commission – the body responsible for the administration and services of the House – and its Chair, Speaker John Bercow MP. It has also been copied to the leaders of all three main political parties and their science spokespersons. You can read the full letter here.