Parliament debates cuts to science advice

Last week saw a parliamentary debate on the House of Commons Administration and Savings Programme – a cost-cutting initiative which is threatening substantial cuts to the budget of the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) – the in-house body which provides scientific advice to parliamentarians.

Ahead of the debate CaSE organised a letter, signed by leading figures from the science and engineering policy community,  warning of the potential harm of such cuts to the quality and independence of advice provided by POST.

The letter was sent to the House of Commons Commission and its Chair, Speaker John Bercow MP, and was copied to the leaders of all three main political parties and their science spokespersons, as well as the POST board. You can read the full letter here.

Those speaking in the debate included the chair of POST, Adam Afriyie MP. Underlining the excellent work carried about by POST, and by organisations like CaSE in supporting it, Adam sought to highlight the effects of these disproportionate cuts on the high-quality, independent and non-partisan advice offered to Parliamentarians. Most crucially, POST leverages a huge amount of external resources through its fellowship scheme – approximately £300,000 – which could be said to substitute the £570,000 taken up by POST’s budget.

Also speaking during the debate was the Liberal Democrat Chair of the Finance and Services Committee  (and POST board member) John Thurso, who gave hope that a budgetary accommodation could be found to continue the crucial work done by POST.

CaSE has called on the House of Commons to sustain and support POST by making clear that it has a valued and adequately-funded future inside Parliament, and we will be monitoring developments closely.

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