MPs quiz over use of advice

MPs this week expressed amazement at the Government's failure to monitor the use and effectiveness of consultants in drawing up the scientific advice that informs policy decisions.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee heard evidence from the Government's Chief Social Researcher Sue Duncan, as part of its inquiry into how the Government handles scientific advice and evidence in drawing up policy. Ms Duncan admitted that Whitehall departments did not evaluate the use or effectiveness of consultants.

Phil Willis, chair of the committee, told The Times Higher : "I was amazed by that."

He added that the committee felt that lip service was paid to the Scientific Analysis in Policy Making guidelines that government departments were supposed to adhere to. "This is in conflict with the Government's policy that evidence should determine all policy decisions," he said.

Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, told MPs that monitoring the use of the guidelines would form part of his review of government departments. These are supposed to be carried out every three years.

"We've come a long way but this is a bit of a tanker that needs turning," he said.

Sir David and Ms Duncan told the committee they would like to publish the scientific evidence that informs their advice to government after policy is decided.

"The question is whether ministers will be as keen on this transparency as he is," committee member Evan Harris said.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Featured Jobs

Associate Dean (Education), Quality and Innovation AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY (ANU)

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Universities to scale back liberal arts and social science courses

  • David Humphries illustration (24 September 2015)

A Russell Group tagline rap is further proof that we need to reform the academy’s approach, argues Philip Moriarty

  • World University Rankings 2015-2016 methodology

Change for the better: fuelled by more comprehensive data, the 2015-2016 rankings probe deeper than ever

  • World University Rankings

US continues to lose its grip as institutions in Europe up their game

Inspired by previous movement in 1960s, PhD students say that ‘science is not neutral’ and urge scientists to confront their assumptions