Scientific Expertise on the S&T Committee

Last week saw the announcement of the eleven new members of the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee. The new chair of the Committee, Andrew Miller, blogged for CaSE on what he sees as the major challenges facing the committee.

Now the Royal Society of Chemistry has posted a very interesting article on their blog, examining the scientific credentials of each member. Although a simple study of the MPs background and interests, the blog post makes for mixed reading. Five of the committee members have a science-based degree – Gavin Barwell (theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge), Graham Stringer (BSc Hons in chemistry from the University of Sheffield), Roger Williams (natural sciences at the University of Cambridge) and Alok Sharma ( physics and electronics at Salford University), while Andrew Miller spent ten years working in the geology department at Portsmouth Polytechnic.

However, at least five of the 11 committee members seem to have no direct background or education in STEM (science, technology, technology, engineering and maths). Some may seize upon the RSC’s analysis as evidence for the lack of scientific literacy in Parliament. However, we know that not having a formal background in STEM need not be an impediment to being a excellent advocate; Phil Willis, the former chair of the S&T committee, and David Willetts MP, the Science Minister, are great examples of this.

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