Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Second supplementary memorandum submitted by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE)

  The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) is pleased to respond to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into government funding of the scientific learned societies. The RSE is Scotland's foremost learned society and Scotland's National Academy of Science & Letters. Although the Society is based in Edinburgh, its 1,200 distinguished Fellows are drawn from all parts of Scotland and beyond.


  Although the Royal Society of Edinburgh was founded in 1783, under a Royal Charter granted by George III, for the "Advancement of Learning and Useful Knowledge" it is committed to playing its full part in helping the people of Scotland to meet the challenges of the twenty first century. The Society is an independent, non party-political body with charitable status. The Society embraces all disciplines in the Sciences and Letters, and its Fellows are elected from the full spectrum of the sciences, medicine, engineering and technology, education, law, the arts, humanities, social sciences, business, industry, the professions and public service. The breadth of this range of subjects gives the Society a multidisciplinary perspective that makes it unique among the United Kingdom's learned societies.

  The Society's mission today remains "the Advancement of Learning and Useful Knowledge". In promoting learning and putting the multidisciplinary expertise of its Fellows to work for the good of Scotland, the Society has three functional goals:

    —  to serve as Scotland's national academy of science and letters—acting as a source of multidisciplinary, independent and expert reflection on matters of public relevance, as a catalyst for educational progress, and as a stimulator of lifelong learning;

    —  to support research and innovation in Scotland—acting in productive and effective partnership with a number of public and private providers of funding to support research and innovation and to sustain the excellence and usefulness of Scotland's research base;

    —  to act as Scotland's premier learned body—honouring outstanding achievement across all academic subjects, the professions, the arts, commerce, industry and public life.

  The work of the Society has six major strands:

    —  independent policy analysis and advice—acting as an independent source of authoritative advice on matters of public relevance through a unique multidisciplinary perspective;

    —  communicating knowledge and understanding—communicating knowledge in order to foster lifelong learning, providing a forum for informed debate, engaging both the general public and specialists and improving the perception of research and careers in the Sciences and Letters;

    —  international activities—promoting the international activities of the Society as part of Scotland's scientific and cultural infrastructure in keeping with the international role that Scotland increasingly seeks to play through the devolution settlement;

    —  grants and awards—supporting advanced research and postgraduate studies, using the expertise of Fellows as a peer-review system to validate the allocations, to sustain the excellence and usefulness of Scotland's research base;

    —  commercialisation and innovation—encouraging the commercialisation of appropriate science-based research to fully exploit the scientific output of its universities and research institutes to the benefit of the national economy;

    —  the Fellowship programme—involving the Fellowship in the work of the Society in order to promote learning and put the expertise of Fellows to work for the good of Scotland.


  The RSE has effected significant developments in areas of strategic importance to Scotland through partnerships with major charitable trusts, industry, government and academia. The RSE receives £278,000 grant-in-aid from the Scottish Executive Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department, details of which can be found in the Forward Look 2001 of Government-funded science, engineering and technology. The Society also runs Research Fellowships funded by the Scottish Executive and other public, private and charitable bodies. In this context, the RSE in partnership with the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), ran in 2000 and 2001 PPARC Enterprise Fellowships across the UK, designed to encourage the commercialisation of PPARC funded research, with support of £179,000. These one-year Enterprise Fellowships, developed initially by the RSE in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, have equipped post-doctoral researchers, or younger lecturers, with the hands-on business knowledge to enhance the commercialisation potential of their own research. They encourage the establishment of new start-up companies and allow young researchers to devote time developing their research from a commercial perspective. PPARC will be continuing to fund the RSE for their scheme in 2002-04 with a further four Fellowships with the support of an additional £175,000. Scottish Enterprise has also recently announced a major expansion in the number of Enterprise Fellowships to be run by the RSE, with funding of £5.5 million for a further 80 new Enterprise Fellowships in Scotland.


  The RSE recognises its growing obligations as Scotland's national academy of science and letters, and is committed to playing its full part in helping the people of Scotland, the UK and society more generally to meet the challenges of the twenty first century. A key activity of the Society, which is useful to the public, the Scottish Parliament and the Executive, is to act as an independent source of authoritative advice on matters of public relevance. The expertise of the RSE's Fellows is the foundation for bringing a multidisciplinary perspective to bear on the formation of public policy. From April 2001 to March 2002 the RSE responded to 41 requests for comment on proposals prepared by Government Departments, committees of inquiry, Parliamentary committees and other bodies. The RSE also proactively undertakes a number of independent inquiries on matters of importance to Scotland, with recent examples including an inquiry into Foot and Mouth Disease in Scotland, the Scientific Issues Surrounding the Control of Infectious Salmon Anaemia in Scotland, and Encouraging Resolution: Mediating Patient/Health Service Disputes in Scotland.

  With financial support from the Scottish Executive, the Society also ran, during 2000-01, a series of public policy seminars to inform public policy development and decision-making. These involved Scottish Executive, Ministers and officials, Scottish Parliamentarians and the public, as well as practitioners in the academic, private and voluntary sectors. They provided a platform for open informed discussion on public policy issues on key issues affecting Scotland's future economic, cultural and social development. Topics included the active involvement of older people, educating through inclusive schooling, twenty first century challenges and changes of renewable energy, and urban transport congestion.

  Another intensive activity of the Society is communicating knowledge in order to foster lifelong learning, providing a forum for informed debate, engaging both the general public and specialists and improving the perception of research and careers in the sciences and letters. The Society's Meetings and Events Programme, together with the Young People's Programme, are all designed to meet different aspects of these needs effectively.

  In late 2001 the Scottish Executive launched a Science Strategy for Scotland for the support and use of science to achieve the Scottish Executive's objectives. Two of the strands of the Strategy are to ensure the effective use of scientific evidence in policy formation and resource allocation by government; and to promote the awareness, appreciation and understanding of science across society. As part of this Strategy the Executive has decided there should be a Scottish Science Advisory Committee, independent of the Executive and established under the auspices of the RSE. The person appointed by the RSE to Chair the Committee has, ex officio, become the Chief Advisor on science to the Scottish Executive. The decision to ask the RSE to establish this important new committee is a clear reflection of the RSE's standing as Scotland's National Academy. This Committee will provide advice to Scottish Executive Ministers on science strategy, policy and priorities to allow the Scottish Executive to make effective use of available scientific advice, knowledge and techniques in formulating and implementing policies to support the full range of its objectives. Specific activities will include: advise on strategic priorities for science across the Executive's responsibilities; provide an overview of the provision and use of science in Scotland and advise on ways of increasing public knowledge and understanding in relation to science and science based issues.

  The Society also enjoys good relations with UK and international academies. In terms of international activities, the RSE hosts visits to Scotland from representatives of overseas bodies and has developed special relationships and joint activities with national academies overseas. This includes establishing agreements of scientific co-operation, for example, with China, Taiwan and Poland. The main thrust of these being to facilitate an exchange of scientists and researchers to and from Scotland. It also organises a two-way flow of Caledonian Research Foundation Visiting Research Fellowships between Scotland and continental Europe.

June 2002

Annex 1

April 2001Review of Teaching Funding: Third Stage Consultation

Scottish Higher Education Funding Council

The European Commission's proposals in its White Paper "Strategy for a future Chemicals Policy" (COM(2001)88)

House of Lords European Union Committee

Review of Research Policy and Funding: Second Stage Consultation

Scottish Higher Education Funding Council

European Commission's Chemicals White Paper

Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

The Adventitious Presence of GM seeds in the Seed of Conventional Varieties

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department consultation

Proposed Cairngorms National Park

Scottish Natural Heritage
May 2001Scottish Executive's Interim Response to the Findings of the Phillips Report

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department

The Sixth Environmental Action Programme

Scottish Executive Environment Group

Devolution and the Arts, the Humanities and the Social Sciences

The Royal Society of Edinburgh and British Academy

Animals in Scientific Procedures

House of Lords Animals in Scientific Procedures inquiry
June 2001The Forthcoming Review of the Common Fisheries Policy

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department

Stem Cell Research

House of Lords Stem Cell Research Committee

The Nature of Scotland—A Policy Statement

Scottish Executive Environment Group

Foresight Review

Department of Trade and Industry
July 2001Land Reform: The Draft Bill

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department

Quinquennial Review of the Grant Awarding Research Councils

Office of Science and Technology

Review of Funding for the Voluntary Sector in Scotland

Scottish Executive Development Department

Natural Heritage Zones Programme

Scottish Natural Heritage

Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees: Second Round of Consultation

Office of Science and Technology

Protecting our Rights: A Human Rights Commission for Scotland

Scottish Executive Justice Department
August 2001Possible Scenarios for the Uptake of GM in Agriculture

Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission

Supply of Scientists and Engineers

Sir Gareth Roberts Review of the Supply of Scientists and Engineers
September 2001Commission Proposals on Adventitious GM Presence in Non-GM Seeds

Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department

Application of the Consultative Steering Group Principles in the Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament Procedures Committee

The Future of Europe

Scottish Parliament European Committee

Developments on European Commission proposals on traceability and labelling of GMOs and food and feed products derived from them, and on genetically modified food and feed

Food Standards Agency

Research Support Libraries Group—Call for Evidence

UK Funding Councils
October 2001European Commission Proposal to Introduce Legislation Controlling Radioactivity in Foodstuffs

Food Standards Agency (Scotland)

Inquiry into the Global Economy

House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs
November 2001Scotland's freshwater fish and fisheries: Securing their future

Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department

The Public Appointments Bill

The Scottish Parliament Local Government Committee
December 2001Review of Graduate Studies

The British Academy
January 2002Scottish Higher Education Review

Scottish Executive Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department

Contingency Plan for the Possibility of BSE in Sheep

Scottish Executive Environment & Rural Affairs Department

Management of possible exposure to CJD through medical procedures

CJD Incidents Panel

Review of Arts and Humanities Research Funding

Department for education and skills

Labelling and tracing of Genetically Modified Food and Animal Feed

House of Lords European Union Committee
February 2002The Long-Term Effects of Chemicals in the Environment

Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
March 2002Managing Radioactive Waste Safely

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Devolution: inter-institutional relations in the United Kingdom

House of Lords Committee on the Constitution

Topic of Royal Commission's next study

Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution

Annex 2



  29 October 2001—Stateless Nations Public Lecture and Presidential Address preceded by Annual Statutory Meeting. Followed by Discussion Dinner for Fellows.

  5 November 2001—Therapeutic Cloning And Reprogramming In Stem Cell Research /Reproductive Cloning—Does The End Justify The Means? Public Lecture followed by Discussion Forum.

21 November 2001- Strangers In A Strange Land? Two Centuries Of The Irish In Scotland Regional Event at the University Of Dundee.

  3 December 2001—Options And Opportunities In A Pandemic Of Diabetes Public Lecture

  6 December 2001—From RSS Discovery To Space Shuttle Discovery: Leading The Way For Exploration Of The Space Frontier Edinburgh Lecture At Heriot-Watt University By Dr Bonnie Dunbar, Corr FRSE, Astronaut, Assistant Director Of University Research & Affairs, NASA. Joint Event with Heriot-Watt University.

  7 January 2002—Knowledge For Vision: Vision For Knowledge Joint Lecture (Medawar) RSE/ Royal Society of London.

  4 February 2002—Muslims, Jews And Christians In The 21st Century by HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal.

  15 February 2002—Is Evolution Over? Joint Lecture—RSE/ Edinburgh Centre For Rural Research/ Institute of Biology. Speaker: Professor J S Jones, University College London.

  18 February 2002—A Tale Of Two Towers: Big Ben And Pisa Joint Lecture -RSE/ Royal Academy of Engineering. Speaker: Professor John Burland Freng FRS, Professor Of Soil Mechanics, Imperial College.

  4 March 2002—Regeneration Of The Forth & Clyde And Union Canals Public Lecture (Preceded By Election Of Fellows). Speakers: Professor Roland Paxton MBE FRSE, Department Of Civil And Offshore Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, Mr Jim Stirling, Director Of British Waterways And Professor George Fleming FRSE, Head Of Water And Environmental Management Division, University Of Strathclyde. Followed by Discussion Dinner for Fellows.

  27 March 2002—Sir Eric Mensforth International Gold Medal Lecture—Technology Innovation For A New Era Joint Lecture. Speaker: Nicolas M Donofrio, Senior Vice-President Technology and Manufacturing, IBM Corporation. Organised by: IEE Manufacturing Enterprise Professional Network.

Conferences, Symposia and Workshops

  26 November 2001—Innovation In Scotland In The 21st Century—Matching Knowledge And Enterprise Conference. Co-Hosted by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Executive.

  25 January 2002—The A To Z Of Oral Cancer: A Holistic Route Oral Health Workshop.

  6 February 2002—Particle Physics at the Limits Workshop.

  21 February 2002 —The Future of Retailing 3: Changing Location and Spatial Structure of Retailing Symposium.

Schools Lectures

  12 March 2001—Building Bridges by Professor Miles Padgett at Gairloch High School, nr Inverness

  30 March 2001—Human Genome—the movie by Dr Wendy Bickmore at Douglas Academy, Milnagavie, Glasgow

  30 April 2001—Serpents and Synthesisers by Professor Murray Campbell at Inverkeithing High School

  12 September 2001—Human Genome—the movie by Dr Wendy Bickmore at Cults Academy, Kinkorth Academy, as part of TechFest

  13 September 2001—Human Genome—the movie by Dr Wendy Bickmore at Peterhead Academy and Ellon Academy, as part of TechFest

  16 October 2001—Aspects of Cancer by Professor John Wyke at Glenalmond College, nr Perth

  12 September 2001—Human Genome—the movie by Dr Wendy Bickmore at Cults Academy, Kinkorth Academy, as part of TechFest

  13 September 2001- Human Genome—the movie by Dr Wendy Bickmore at Peterhead Academy and Ellon Academy, as part of TechFest

  16 October 2001—Aspects of Cancer by Professor John Wyke at Glenalmond College, nr Perth

  13 November 2001—Otters and Others by Professor James Conroy at Elgin Academy

  11 December 2001- Lasing Down the Internet by Professor Thomas Krauss at Kingussie High School

  11 January 2002—Bridge Building by Professor Miles Padgett at Milburn Academy, Inverness

  23 January 2002—Soap Bubbles and Membranes by Dr Ciaran Ewins at James Young High School, Livingston

  14 March 2002- Death, Drugs and Dynamite! by Dr Alan Jamieson at Nicolson Institute, Isle of Lewis. As part of National Science Week.

2000 Schools Christmas Lecture

  4 December 2001—Dr Bonnie Dunbar, NASA Astronaut, Corr FRSE gave the Christmas Lectures at Dumfries Academy to S1/S2 students from local schools and then to the public.

RSE Roadshow

  19-21 March 2002—RSE Roadshow at Eyemouth, Berwickshire. Supported by Science Year in Scotland and Scottish Borders Council.

Discussion Forum

  18 June 2001—Mobile Phone Technology and Safety:'Good to Talk'? At the University of Glasgow, in conjunction with the BA and supported by the IOP and EPSRC

Primary Maths Masterclasses

  10, 17, 24 November, 1 December 2001 at Dalmeny Primary School

  19, 26 January 2002, 2 and 9 February 2002 at Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow

Startup Science masterclasses- supported by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland

  3, 10, 17, 24 November 2001, 20, 27 April, 4, 11 May 2002, University of Glasgow

  17, 24 Nov, 1, 8 Dec 2001, 27 April, 11, 18, 25 May 2002, University of St Andrews

3, 10, 17, 24 November 2001, 20, 27 April, 4, 11 May 2002, Heriot-Watt University

  24 Nov, 1, 8, 15 December 2001, 20, 27 April, 11, 18 May 2002, University of Dundee

  3, 17, 24 Nov, 15 December 2001, 2, 16, 23 April, 27 May 2002, Satrosphere, Aberdeen

Summer Science Camp—supported by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland

  23 July-27 July 2001, Satrosphere, Aberdeen

Physics Masterclasses

  29 September, 6, 13, 20 October 2001, in conjunction with the University of Glasgow Department of Physics and Astronomy.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 6 August 2002