Government response to the former Science & Technology Committee’s legacy report

Posted on July 27, 2010 by

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In the last parliament, the Commons Science & Technology Committee published a legacy report which included recommendations on the future of a science select committee in the new parliament and enshrining the principles of independent scientific advice to government in policy-making. The government has responded to these recommendations including confirming again that the principles are now enshrined in the 2010 ministerial code.

Key publications

The former committee’s legacy report is available here.

The government response published today is available here (PDF).

And it says:

On the new Commons Science & Technology Committee

The legacy report recommended that the committee in the new parliament should:

(1) have the prime responsibility for scrutiny of the government’s science unit and science minister, whatever the unit is called and wherever it lies;

(2) it should be a freestanding committee with a cross-departmental remit;

(3) it should have a membership of 11 and a quorum of three.

The government response confirms the committee size is 11 with a quorum of three and recognises that cross-cutting departmental scrutiny is an important role of the committee. However, while the committee had felt a dedicated cross-departmental science & technology committee might require some change to the standing orders setting up the committees, the government states that it is possible for it to operate in this way under the current standing orders so has made no change to these.

And on the Principles on independent scientific advice to government produced by BIS and available here.

The committee recommended that these principles be enshrined by the government in the new ministerial code.

The government has done so. The 2010 version of the ministerial code (PDF) contains the statement (para 5.2)

“Ministers have a duty to give fair consideration and due weight to informed and impartial advice from civil servants, as well as to other considerations and advice in reaching policy decisions, and should have regard to the Principles for Scientific Advice to Government (Paragraph 5.2).”

Posted in: Policy