A new Parliament brings with it many new MPs. In considering the content of my few remarks for this Tuesday’s Parliamentary Links Day on Science and the new Parliament I took the opportunity to reflect on what it is that the new intake of MPs care about.
Why have they put themselves through the most public of job interviews?
What is it they would like to use their voice and position as an MP to achieve? Read More
If you thought election fever was over, think again. The halls of Westminter are abuzz as the race begins to choose who will lead this Parliament’s powerful Select Committees. But don’t worry, it’s just MPs that have to vote this time, although you can contact your MP and try to influence their vote if you wish.
The number of Select Committees each party will Chair is based on the total number of MPs they have. So Conservatives have been given 14 Chairs, Labour have 10, and the SNP get two. The parties themselves then wrangle over which of the 26 committees up for grabs their party will Chair. Of greatest interest to us, the Conservatives have got the Science and Technology Committee Read More
In 2012, MPs elected for the current parliamentary term were asked a simple question about the probability of flipping a coin and getting two heads in a row. The correct answer, as I’m sure you know, is 25%.
Not everybody needs to be a maths whiz, and not everybody has an interest in statistics and probabilities. But when it comes to the women and men elected to run the country, who make decisions on billion pound budgets and hold government to account, it is surely reasonable to expect they have a basic grasp of the numbers. Read More
Changes to the Labour front bench, announced this afternoon, have left the position of Shadow Science Minister temporarily vacant.
Chi Onwurah MP has moved from the BIS team to join the Cabinet Office team where she will be leading on cyber security, social entrepreneurship, civil contingency, open government and transparency.
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
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.
“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
Yesterday’s announcement that plans to reform the House of Lords were being “paused” didn’t come as a surprise. The blocking of the time tabling motion necessary to deliver the Bill meant that huge amounts of Parliamentary time could have been spent on it, something the Coalition was keen to avoid.
With promises from all three of the major political parties, and the subsequent Coalition Government, House of Lords reform is firmly on the agenda. This is an important and rare opportunity so it’s been disappointing to see the debate quickly descend into a political bun fight.
With reform on the political agenda now is the time for the science and engineering community to ask not only it feels the role of a reformed House should be, but also if the current representation and use of expertise could be improved.
The role of expertise in the House of Lords will be addressed in a report from CaSE, due to be published at the end of the month. As part of this work CaSE held a meeting to discuss the proposed reforms with Lord Willis (member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee), James Wilsdon (Professor of Science and Democracy at SPRU, University of Sussex) and Baroness Finlay (clinical academic at the Cardiff University and the Velindre Cancer Centre) on the panel.