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Science in the Parliaments

How science fits into the UK's parliamentary systems

Westminster

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee exists to ensure that government policy and decision-making are based on good scientific and engineering advice and evidence.

The committee is unusual among departmental select committees in that it scrutinises the Government Office for Science, which is a ‘semi-autonomous organisation’ based within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has a broad remit “to consider science and technology”. It scrutinises government policy by undertaking cross-departmental inquiries into a range of activities including:

  • public policy areas which ought to be informed by scientific research
  • technological challenges and opportunities, and
  • public policy towards science itself.

In addition, the Committee undertakes shorter inquiries, either taking evidence from ministers and officials on topical issues, or following up previous work.

Other relevant Westminster commitees include:

Energy and Climate Change Committee

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Environmental Audit Committee

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology is the UK Parliament's in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology.

Scotland

The Scottish Science Advisory Council is Scotland’s highest level science advisory body, providing independent advice and recommendations on science strategy, policy and priorities to the Scottish Government's chief scientific adviser and to the Scottish government.

Prospect drew up a Manifesto for Scottish Science which it sent to all candidates in the 2011 Scottish Parliament general election.

Wales

The Welsh Scientific Advisory Committee advises the Assembly on professional scientific and technological matters related to health issues in Wales. It meets three times a year.

Prospect's Manifesto for Welsh Science, was sent to all candidates in the National Assembly for Wales' 2011 election. The manifesto is in Welsh and English.