The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have clearly indicated their commitment to the UK’s world-leading science sector and its ability to drive economic recovery, so we are dismayed to uncover evidence of widespread disinvestment in science across government.
The Government’s expenditure on research and development (R&D) across all government departments is an important element of public funding of science. It is used to commission the UK science and engineering sector to provide a range of information, including scientific monitoring, surveillance, policy evaluation and new research.
In 2012, CaSE analysis of budget changes between 2009/10 and 2010/11 found evidence that many departments under financial pressure reduced R&D more than other spending. This year, analysis by CaSE of figures for 2010/11 and 2011/12, reported in the Financial Times, shows that Whitehall’s R&D expenditure has been slashed by £856 million since 2009-10, with many departments seeing year on year cuts to R&D.
You can read a full PDF of the analysis here.
In October, CaSE brought together the science spokespeople from each of the main political parties to debate the future direction of science and engineering in the UK. The event, kindly hosted by the Royal Society and chaired by Pallab Ghosh, gave us the opportunity to hear from each party on issues ranging from the use of scientific advice in Government through to research funding and matters around diversity in science and engineering. Read More
Last Wednesday saw CaSE bring together the science spokespeople from the three main Westminster parties to debate the future direction of science and engineering in the UK. Read More
(L-R) CaSE Director Dr Sarah Main, CaSE Chair Prof. Hugh Griffiths, EU Chief Scientific Advisor Prof. Anne Glover
Last Tuesday saw the CaSE 2013 Annual Lecture, given by the Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission, Professor Anne Glover CBE.
The event was kindly hosted by the Zoological Society of London, with over 200 delegates in attendance from across industry, academia, learned societies and the general public. Read More
At a time when scientific authority is both in high demand and hotly contested, the relationships between science advice, evidence, expertise and policy have been magnified by debates over what should succeed the Millennium Development Goals. Read More
The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee has decided to hold a inquiry into the future of the Science Museum Group.
The Group consists of five museums – the Science Museum in London, The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, National Media Museum in Bradford, National Railway Museum in York, and the National Railway Museum in Shildon, County Durham – which are largely funded by DCMS.
Reductions in grant funding from the department, and the possibility of further cuts in the upcoming Spending Review next month, have raised concerns that one or more of these museums will be forced to close. Read More
CaSE has today welcomed the appointment of Professor Robin Grimes as the new Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but urged the department to improve the oversight and support mechanisms surrounding to the role.
Science and engineering impacts on the work done across the Foreign Office and it is therefore crucial that independent scientific advice should be at the heart of the FCO’s policy-making. Read More
It’s good news for the future of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). It was feared at the beginning of the month, as part of a savings programme being introduced across the House of Commons, that the office was facing a 17% cut in its budget by 2014/15.
In response to the news of a potential budget cuts CaSE organised a letter, signed by leading figures from the science and engineering policy community, warning that potential budget cuts to POST threaten the quality of scientific advice in Westminster.
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. Read More
The following letter was sent to the Chairman and the members of the House of Commons Commission. Read More
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Today the House of Lords is debating the role of departmental Chief Scientific Advisors (DCSAs). The debate has been called by the Chair of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, Lord Krebs, following the Committee’s report into the role and function of DCSAs, earlier this year.
Science and engineering impacts on the work of every government department, from climate change to transport infrastructure and military defence to school-age education. It is therefore crucial that independent scientific advice should be at the heart of government and that each department should have a CSA to deliver expert advice and oversee science policymaking.
Ahead of today’s debate, CaSE has produced the following briefing – giving an up-to-date review of the DCSA network across government.
Sufficient Oversight Powers
Ministry of Defence
Department for Culture Media and Sport
Departmental Research & Development Budgets Read More
CaSE has analysed the speeches of David Cameron, George Osborne, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Nick Clegg, and Vince Cable for mentions of science, technology, engineering, maths, research, and innovation.
Vince Cable and David Cameron scored highest, with Ed Balls and Ed Miliband performing less well.
Whitehall departments have cut their research and development (R&D) budgets disproportionately, a new CaSE investigation has found – despite suggestions that such spending would be protected.
Read exclusive coverage in the Financial Times.
At their party conference this morning in Brighton, the Liberal Democrats passed ‘Developing a Future – Policies for Science and Research’ – a policy motion urging the Government to increase investment in science and research across the UK.
The motion was moved by former scientist Dr Julian Huppert MP, and CaSE contributed to the development of the underlying policy paper.
This week sees the first major re-shuffle of the Government. Where does it leave the Coalition’s policies on science and engineering?
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
Both Vince Cable and David Willetts have kept their jobs as Secretary of State and Universities and Science Minister respectively. This will be largely welcomed by scientists and engineers – the two were given credit for staving off larger cuts to the science budget by central Government during the 2010 Spending Review. Willetts, in particular, has gained plaudits for his active engagement with the science community.
The one minor change has been the departure of Mark Prisk as Minister of State, to be replaced with Michael Fallon. Amongst other duties, Fallon will be responsible for promoting economic growth, as well as looking after specific sectors such as electronics & cyber-security, and low-emission vehicles.
Posted in Blog, Highlights
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“Science and research are critical to our future health, wealth and happiness. The UK has a proud history of leading the world in ideas and innovation that have changed our planet and way of life.
But in recent decades, the UK government has not sufficiently recognised the importance of research and development. This country spends less on R&D than we used to, and than other countries do now.
If unchecked, this decline threatens to hurt our economy, reduce employment, and render the UK ever more reliant on buying innovation from overseas at great expense.
The Liberal Democrats’ de facto science spokesman, Dr Julian Huppert MP, has published a paper outlining where he thinks the party’s science policy should be heading.
“Developing a future” is the party’s first dedicated science policy paper since 1991 – and, more importantly, the first that has been developed while the party is in Government. As an added interest for CaSE, we took part in Dr Huppert’s consultation, and have been eager to see the outcome.
You can read the full policy paper here, but we’ve pulled out some selected highlights below.
Rob Doubleday is Executive Director of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) at the University of Cambridge. The article first appeared in the July 2012 edition of CaSE News.
Ireland’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Cunningham, likes to quote Lord Ritchie-Calder, a science journalist who worked in government during the Second World War. Scientists had played a central role in the war effort, but “having gained access to the corridors of power, scientists could not find their way to the men’s room.”
We’ve come a long way since Ritchie-Calder’s day, however, the question of science’s proper place in government remains. And it has been aired again at the news of Sir Mark Walport’s appointment to be the next Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA). Read More
Science and engineering expertise in the House of Lords was raised in the House of Commons today, during the second reading debate on the Government’s House of Lords Reform Bill.
The new bill proposes an 80% elected House of Lords, with the total membership substantially reduced from the current total of over 800 to 450, and members serving a single, 15 year, non-renewable term.
The Government today announced the appointment of Sir Mark Walport as the new Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA). Sir Mark is currently the Director of the Wellcome Trust.
He will take up the position on 1 April 2013 replacing the current GCSA, Professor Sir John Beddington, who has served in the post since January 2008, and who CaSE held good relations with. Professor Beddington gave the 2009 CaSE Annual Distinguished Lecture on ‘Science in Government: Challenges for the 21st Century’.