Submission from the Royal Society of Edinburgh
PUTTING SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AT THE HEART
OF GOVERNMENT POLICY
at the heart of Government is a crucial issue, given that science
pervasively underpins many and possibly most of the issues important
for good government. The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science
and Innovation and the Council for Science and Technology play
important roles but are not sufficient as means of placing science
at the heart of government. A long term, adaptive strategy for
science needs to be owned at the highest level of Government and
articulated in terms of the objectives, processes and institutions
required to ensure the excellence of the science base and its
efficient exploitation. The creation of a Department for Science
could be an effective means of ensuring this. The
creation of effective policy and its implementation not only depend
upon top level engagement but also on intermediary bodies that
through their understanding of operational reality are able both
to contribute to the development of policy and its efficient execution.
The strengths of the current system
include the existence of efficient, experienced and successful
bodies such as the research and funding councils, the existence
of chief scientists in all departments of UK Government (though
not of devolved administrations) and the existence of national
academies able to contribute highly expert, independent advice.
Its weaknesses include the absence
of a well articulated science strategy with powerful champions;
the difficulty of achieving cross-departmental coordination (the
potential of the committee of chief scientists needs to be realised);
the relative failure of policies for cross-disciplinary research
support and its application; the emerging gaps between UK and
devolved administration policies for science; and the failure
to engage with the emerging European Research Area.
The capacity of the non-governmental
science community, particularly that of the universities, is very
much greater than the diminished science capacity of government.
It should be a priority for government to devise policies to draw
on that external capacity, whilst recognising that the role of
the science community is to provide evidence, not to determine
public policy; that is for government.
There is a need for separate but
interacting regional as well as national science strategies, but
these should also interact with an EU level strategy.
Public engagement and dialogue should
be major components of science strategy.
Scrutiny of science policy needs
to be extended to include the interfaces between regional, UK
and EU policies.
1. The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE),
Scotland's National Academy, is pleased to respond to the Innovation,
Universities, Science & Skills (IUSS) Committee inquiry, Putting
Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy.
The RSE is well placed to respond to the issues raised by the
inquiry as the Society's Fellowship includes distinguished individuals
drawn from Science, Medicine, Arts & Letters, Engineering
& Technology, the Professions, Industry and Commerce. We respond
in turn to each of the questions in the inquiry document, which
are set out in italic below.
Are the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science and Innovation
and the Council for Science and Technology successful in putting
science and engineering at the heart of policy-making and should
there be a Department for Science?
2. The evidence of cause and effect in nature
and society that are yielded by scientific knowledge and understanding
is vital to most areas of public policy. At the same time, the
application of scientific knowledge has and will continue to change
the world we live in, in ways that are fundamental to the operation
of society and the economy. It is therefore crucially important
that Government creates mechanisms whereby policymakers are able
to access and utilise the very best scientific advice; and which
are also able to maintain and enhance the strength, effectiveness
and morale of the science base. The fact that some scientifically
established relationships go against the grain of popular belief
or prejudice must not be allowed to inhibit their application
in policy; a not inconsiderable challenge to politicians and civil
3. It is therefore of great importance that there
is a strong advocacy for science and engineering at the heart
of government including Cabinet level. Equally it is important
that mechanisms exist within government and across departments
to ensure that scientific understanding is acquired and applied.
4. A number of vital functions are required
(a) The means to create a long term strategy
for science in terms of objectives, processes and bodies, that
is agreed and supported at Cabinet level. The 10-year science
and innovation investment framework published by the government
in 2004 was an important step forward, but has not been followed
by further development at a high level. The Cabinet Sub-Committee
on Science and Innovation could be a means of doing this, although
it seems that its principal current function is to address particularly
urgent issues. If it is not to act at a high strategic level,
there is a case for the creation of a Department for Science.
With the demise of Lord Sainsbury as Science Minister, the strategic
awareness and the vital engagement of the science community that
he created has waned. It is important that these are redeveloped.
Much responsibility for processes of awareness and engagement
also falls on the shoulders of the Chief Scientific Adviser.
(b) Processes that ensure routine access to
scientific advice and the coordination of responses across government.
In principle this should be the role of departmental chief scientists.
Now that all/most Whitehall departments have a chief scientist,
we would like to see chief scientists working more effectively,
under the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, to maintain and
construct robust advice routes and to coordinate actions across
government. Capacity for the latter depends crucially on the willingness
of departmental ministers to engage with coordinated action. Leadership
from Cabinet or Prime Ministerial level is crucial in ensuring
(c) The means to access scientific advice
to respond rapidly to short-term issues and crises. It important
that government perennially ensures that advice routes are in
place so that the best advice can be tapped to respond to such
issues. The issues will change through time, and it is important
to review the existence of sources of appropriate advice and routes
through which it can be accessed. Some advice can be derived from
specialist government institutes. Much will come from universities
and other bodies. Mechanisms should be developed that will permit
government to exploit the enormous resources of the universities,
which are currently less than optimally used.
(d) Processes that ensure input from independent
expert bodies on major issues. The Council for Science and
Technology produces reports for government and intervenes with
advice on specific, long-term issues of importance. We believe
that this is an important function that has proved to be valuable,
and is a means of bringing in the best external advice on particular
issues. The role of learned societies is also important in this
5. Given this analysis, and in conclusion,
science at the centre of government is more than a matter of a
cabinet committee or the CST, but a process that is able to ensure
coherence across government. In principle, a Department for Science
might seem to be a means of doing this, backed up by strong Cabinet-level
6. It is also important to recognise that
although much of the terrain of science is indeed thoroughly known
and understood, many highly problematic issues of the day lie
at the limit of our understanding, and are associated with considerable
uncertainty. It is vital in these cases that Government does not
hide behind falsely claimed scientific certainty, as it did in
the cases of BSE and Salmonella, but recognises the uncertainty
and expresses it clearly when political judgements need to be
made. The development of a discourse that is able to admit uncertainty
in science-related issues should be an important priority for
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current
system through which Government formulates science and engineering
7. The development, formulation and execution
of policy not only depends on clearly defined primary objectives
and high level engagement and support, but also on the existence
of intermediary bodies familiar with operational processes, constraints
and motivations that are able to translate high level government
policy objectives into policies that stimulate an appropriate
operational response. This latter function is fulfilled by two
types of body, those "arms length" bodies (principally
the Research Councils, which iterate with Government through the
Director General of Research Councils (DGRC), University Funding
Councils and Regional Development Agencies) whose actions direct,
fund or influence the major part of the UK science base in universities
and institutes, and those governmental bodies that directly control
government science activities.
Arms-length bodies: Research Councils
8. In comparison with other European systems,
the Research Councils are effective in supporting basic research,
in balancing major directed, thematic programmes with responsive-mode
funding, analysing and developing initiatives to address issues
such as science-based innovation and science and society, and
feeding their perspectives to Government through the DGRC either
to inform and refine Government policy imperatives or to suggest
new areas of priority for policy.
9. Their principle weaknesses are:
(a) The perennial failure, notwithstanding protestations
to the contrary, in developing policies and practices to support
cross-disciplinary research. This remains particularly acute across
the divide between natural science/engineering/medical science
and social science, where science-directed ESRC programmes tend
to link only poorly with cognate areas funded by other research
(b) The difficulties of generating polices for
their institutes. Many institutes were set up to focus on issues
that were currently important, but where science priorities have
changed, many institutes either defend out-moded priorities or
have difficulty in adapting to new ones because of limited staff
Arms-length bodies: Funding Councils
10. Just as happens with Research Councils,
they are able to interpret ministerial guidance and use their
own expertise in a very effective way to determine the most effective
processes through which government priorities can be promoted
and to identify key areas for policy development.
11. The dual support system for research is a
central plank of policy underpinning university research and is
one of great strength. It derives from its capacity to provide
money for research without prescribing how it should be used.
It permits universities to use their creativity and back their
own hunches in pursuing new research directions. In some other
systems, such as that of Sweden, almost all money for research
now flows through research grants to individuals, such that the
university is now merely a "research hotel", deprived
of its potential to use its creativity in developing new research
12. The value of relative autonomy is exemplified
by the Scottish Funding Council's central role in devising and
planning, in consultation with the Scottish universities, the
pooling arrangements that have created powerful cross-university
structures in science in Scotland.
13. A major policy weakness has been the
absence of a clear signal from funding councils about the level
of selectivity in research that is in the national interest. In
practice, a relatively small number of universities have been
awarded the lion's share of funding. There has however been no
policy for research-related activities of other institutions.
The value of the RAE and what will follow it is diminished without
a clear statement about the rationale, at the level of the whole
system, for patterns of funding, so that institutions can make
appropriate long-term plans. What shape do we want the university
science base to have, and what type of functional diversity should
it display? These issues are matters for Government as well as
the Funding Councils.
14. Although policies for the health of
basic research are best created at national level, economic benefits
that involve the application of science are realised at regional
and local levels. The development of the RDAs has been in principle
an important step forward. However, we are only able to comment
knowledgeably about Scotland's RDA, Scottish Enterprise. Its strengths
are its capacity to identify and to exploit the potential of the
research base to benefit innovation and business in Scotland,
through relatively close contacts with the Scottish Funding Council
and, through its local bodies, with individual universities. It
has been able to fund infrastructure projects in universities
and institutes where these have been seen to have potential to
stimulate innovation, inward investment and business growth.
It has also created Intermediary Technology Institutes designed
to act as a proxy for the missing "market pull" on the
science base in Scotland.
15. The weakness of Scottish Enterprise has been
its tendency to work through strategies that depend on collaboration
from the science base without involving it in prior debate and
joint planning, thereby losing its expertise from the planning
process, and often creating sub-optimal projects or projects that
need reverse engineering.
16. A further negative development has been
the recent centralisation of Scottish Enterprise activities and
the loss of local capacity.
Direct UK Government capacities
17. Our comments here follow on from those
in paragraphs 2-6 above. Current strengths include:
(c) high profile chief scientific adviser with
high level access;
(d) committee of chief departmental scientists,
although this could be more influential in developing a cross-cutting
(e) Council for Science and Technology with a
capacity to bring independent expert advice to bear on important
issues that need to have greater traction in Government;
(f) Technology Strategy Board able to identify
the need for and to provide sustained support for important technological
18. Weaknesses in the policy forming process
(a) Uncertainty whether a strategic view of the
structure, priorities and strength of the UK science base as a
whole is sufficiently provided by Cabinet sub-committee. If the
sub-committee is unable to do this, and the Society is sceptical
that it can do so, then given the nature of committees and the
limited resource available to it, the case for a Department of
Science with a minister at the Cabinet table becomes strong.
(b) There is vital need to ensure coordination
across departments. The committee of chief scientists is a step
in the right direction, but ministers themselves need to support
such endeavours. Again, this might best be done through a Department
of Science headed by a Cabinet minister.
(c) More effective ways need to be found of accessing
the enormous range and depth of expertise in the universities,
and indeed of prestigious learned societies such as ourselves,
the Royal Society, the Academy of Engineering, and the Academy
of Medical Sciences.
19. Other priorities include:
(a) The reality of devolution should be recognised.
Too many UK bodies have effectively become English bodies, through
their failure to recognise and to engage with the structures that
have been developed in devolved administrations.
(b) Contracts for research in support of evidence-based
policies should be placed wherever it can be done best, and the
research should be subjected to high standards of peer review.
(c) The policy making process should be separated
from the STEM evidence which is taken into account in formulating
it, and that the evidence should, for important issues, be made
publicly available in plain English.
(d) Procedures should be adopted which ensure
that public values are taken into account during the stage of
(e) A process of horizon-scanning should be routinely
developed which identifies difficult science-based issues before
they become matters of acute controversy (eg nuclear waste and
MMR), so that authoritative evaluations of the underlying science
and its uncertainties can be published in plain English, to avoid
hurried policy decisions being made at times of acute controversy.
The horizon-scanning function within GO-science has not been as
effective as we would have hoped.
(f) The social sciences should be more routinely
engaged to understand better how business, universities, government
agencies and research institutions can interact more effectively
and how public values can be included in the formation and implementation
Are the views of the science and engineering community,
or should they be, central to the formulation of government policy,
and how could the success of any consultation be assessed?
20. The government has political, social
and economic objectives that it wishes to pursue that reflect
the dynamics of political debate. The STEM community has no special
locus in determining these priorities, although scientists may
be heavily involved as individuals. The primary role of the STEM
community is to provide evidence about matters of governmental
concern (eg the psychological impacts of cannabis), to identify
issues that require a governmental response (eg the probability
of severe climate change), or evidence of the options that could
underlie policy decision about how to respond to such issues (eg
low emission energy generation options). Such involvement by the
STEM community may be quite fundamental to the eventual policy,
but it is for Government to determine what that policy should
be, according to their political objectives, not the STEM community.
Science is concerned to understand the working of nature, it is
for society to determine how that understanding should be used.
21. A major problem lies in the extent to which
scientific understanding has extended to so many diverse issues.
Science is now such a powerful and pervasive source of understanding
that there are few areas of government policy to which it do not
apply. At the same time far more scientific knowledge lies outwith
the ready reach of Government than within it, where the direct
STEM support for policy within Government is relatively small.
In many areas, direct support has diminished whereas the range
of expertise needed to underpin policy has greatly expanded.
The question for Government is no longer whether the input of
the STEM community to policy formation is necessary, it is clearly
vital, but how best that input can be achieved.
22. There is a serious need to enlist support
for public policy from the wider science base, particularly from
the universities, which contain unique ranges of competence and
therefore a unique capacity to address complex cross-discipline
issues. To achieve this, Government needs to analyse its needs
more rigorously and reach out more effectively to the universities.
Universities need to recognise and reward the importance of this
activity, and both need to discuss the funding basis that would
enable this development. It is timely both for UK and devolved
administrations to consider how to address their particular needs.
23. It is highly questionable whether the
conventional process of consultation about a proposed policy is
adequate to the need. This Society responds to a relatively large
number of consultation documents in any one year. In doing so
it is able to bring together, at very short notice, groups of
expert Fellows from across the disciplinary spectrum (the RSE
is unique amongst British national academies in the breadth of
its fellowship) that in most cases far outweigh the experience
that is readily available to Government departments. In far too
many cases, the underlying technical basis of consultation papers
is deeply flawed. In some, through persistence, we are able to
achieve some reverse engineering, but in many cases we suspect
that the purpose of consultation is simply to claim that it has
occurred. It would be far better if Government were able to create
imaginative mechanisms that would entrain high levels of expertise
from the start. The relationship between the US Government and
the National Academy of Sciences would be worth inspection in
24. The extent to which Government taps
scientific expertise can be strongly influenced by the ethos of
the particular department, with some being particularly good at
recognising the need to have access to outside scientific expertise.
However, there are some departments that do not recognise this
need. The appointment of Chief Scientists in all departments in
Whitehall is an important first step, but as yet no clear process
where all directorates of the Scottish Government can access necessary
scientific advice, or even in some cases understand where it might
be necessary. This should not be difficult in Scotland, thanks
to its small size and the excellence and relatively large size
of the Scottish science base. It should be a priority.
25. One component of the STEM community
whose voices are inadequately heard in government is that in the
SME technology sector. In Scotland, such companies are the major
employers of practising STEM graduates. These SMEs do not have
the time or energy to ensure that they are represented on government
committees, such that the distinctive issues for the sector are
26. It is important that there is a consultation
network that infiltrates and engages the most appropriate constituencies
where informed opinion can be found. Both the STEM community and
the policy-makers need to be confident in the modes of communication
that sustain and access the network. The Royal Society of Edinburgh
and the Royal Society of London are important parts of such a
network, as are the learned societies and professional bodies.
Is there a case for a regional science policy
(versus national science policy) and does the Haldane principle
27. Not only is there a need for regional
science policies, but the European dimension of science policy
also needs to be addressed. The UK has been highly remiss in not
engaging with the debate about an emergent European Research
Area, which would benefit greatly from more formal UK involvement
in its creation. The question is: what are the functions that
should be located at European, UK and regional levels respectively?
We offer the following prescription:
(a) European level: A European common
market for research could provide a powerful and creatively competitive
framework for the UK science base, through joint planning and
procurement of major infrastructure and of major, globally significant
research programmes; a highly competitive frame for basic research
funded through a well-funded European Research Council, and enhanced
mobility as a contribution to greater dynamism.
(b) UK level: Focus on maintaining the competitiveness
of basic research; provision of national level infrastructure;
sustained term support for UK strategic priorities; national processes
that ensure that a national STEM network is effective and can
be drawn on efficiently to respond to governmental and social
(c) Regional level: Much economic benefit
from the science base is realised at local and regional levels,
and it is important that regional players have a shared view of
regional economic priorities. In addition, the regions should
want to compete effectively for national and EU funding and in
attracting inward investment. A regional science strategy that
is nested in national strategy should be designed to achieve these
28. The realities of devolution require
an extra dimension in a regional policy in view of the divergence
of many areas of public policy between devolved and UK administrations.
To this end, the Scottish Government has recently published a
science strategy. However, in its desire to address distinctive
Scottish priorities, it does not adequately address the mechanisms
that will maximise benefit from UK-level integration. It is vital
that Scotland remains an integral part of the UK science base.
A large scale system has greater capacity to maintain research
diversity and thereby the flexibility to pursue new directions;
to make available otherwise unaffordable opportunities to its
most competitive groups; and to stimulate excellence through its
openness to competition and the wider horizons that it offers.
29. The post of Chief Scientific Adviser
to the Scottish Government has recently been established, supported
by a Scottish Science Advisory Council. These are welcome developments,
but as yet, scientific advice is not as pervasively available
within the Scottish Government as it needs to be.
30. The science base in Scotland has benefited
greatly from a joint initiative of the Scottish Funding Council
and the Universities, to create "pooling" in a number
of key science areas (Physics, Chemistry, Geosciences, Life Sciences,
Informatics & elements of Medical Sciences). This has created
managed networks of the best researchers from the Scottish universities.
It has provided a framework for integrated schools in the vital
area of graduate education. It has simplified the academic landscape
so that the strategic priorities of Scottish universities are
clearer to research funders, made it easier for business to identify
research that may be relevant to its needs, and, critically, proved
to be a powerful attractor for international academic talent into
Scotland. It also includes links with research institutes. It
is a model worthy of notice, and reflects the creative adaptivity
that a regional element of strategy permits.
Engaging the public and increasing public confidence
in science and engineering policy
31. Because of the impacts of new scientific
understanding and technological developments on the lives of individuals
and society, it is imperative, particularly in a democratic society,
that all are stakeholders in the scientific venture. Science must
be a public rather than a private enterprise. Science and the
technologies that flow from it offer options and opportunities.
How the latter are exploited should be in principle a decision
for society. In this interplay, scientists need to engage with
fellow citizens and policy makers in explaining the potentials
and limitations of their science, whilst recognising the critical
importance of social values in determining how scientific understanding
should be used. Governments and bodies in civic society need to
collaborate in creating the frame within which these interactions
32. If these processes fail, there is every prospect
that the scientific creativity and understanding that is increasingly
required to cope with global problems will not be exploited, that
we will fail to realise the potential that science offers in the
economy and in support of public policy, and that we will be indecisive
and ineffectual in the face of the many challenges that confront
33. In its comprehensive response to the
DIUS consultation, A Vision for Science and Society the
RSE identified the following primary objectives of a policy for
science and society:
(a) To help all citizens understand as much as
possible how the science enterprise works, so that they can understand
and engage with it.
(b) To develop habits and processes that give
society a say, possibly in the priorities for science, but certainly
in the introduction of potentially disruptive technologies, and
how we should respond to global problems.
(c) To ensure that mechanisms exist to provide
the scientific support that public policy needs.
(d) To ensure we have the scientists and engineers
needed to support the development of the economy, social services,
infrastructure and the development of more sustainable ways of
living on the planet.
(e) Finally, to recognise that the rationale
for science and funding of science is not only utilitarian, as
described in the four preceding imperatives. The instinct to understand,
to find meaning, and to map the cosmos and ourselves is deeply
human; a common pursuit that all societies have shared. Science
is a fundamental part of that enterprise and should be encouraged
and supported as such.
The importance of Public Engagement and Dialogue
34. The purpose of such dialogue is not
to determine policy but to inform it. It is crucial that the questions
are posed in such a way that the outcome of the dialogue process
has the potential to be useful in policy development, and that
Government does not commission dialogue on questions where it
has already determined its policy and is simply looking for public
agreement. Dialogue is most likely to be fruitful where Government
has a coherent view of what it wants from the process, where it
is has a blank policy canvas, or where dialogue can change aspects
of a pre-existing policy direction. Unlike written consultation
exercises, dialogue processes are open and their outcomes readily
scrutinized. To be seen to ignore them can undermine the credibility
of the policy and the dialogue processes in general. It is also
important to assess the circumstances under which "upstream
engagement" may be appropriate. Another problem is the difficulty
or impossibility of knowing the outcomes or practical applications
of emerging science or technology. This may undermine the incentive
for public involvement and make it easier for special interest
groups to dominate debate and promote their agenda. The timing
and framing of dialogue is crucial in avoiding premature foreclosure
on emerging technologies. Careful framing of the question could
however avoid this outcome whilst uncovering areas of public concern
that could beneficially influence the research and development
35. There are signs the UK Government is developing
effective processes for dialogue, but three issues need to be
addressed: appropriate horizon scanning processes need to be associated
with careful judgments about where dialogue would be appropriate
and at which stage of emergence of an issue it should be applied;
issues must be framed in such a way that dialogue can influence
the development of policy; and a corporate memory of the process
must be kept.
Science education in school
36. A key issue centres upon the provision
of science education in school. Our schools not only prepare those
who will go on to career in science and technology, but also those
who will not, and most of these non-scientists need to have some
comprehension of how the science works and how it affects their
lives. We believe that much science education at school does not
prepare these citizens well.
37. One problem is the widespread misapprehension
that science always gives unambiguous and definite answers. The
misapprehension is both understandable and unfortunate. Understandablebecause
the science taught in school is about things we understand very
well. Unfortunatebecause many innovations in science lie
at or beyond the frontiers of what is currently known, which makes
it harder to define potential side effects and forecast risks.
The consequence is that schooling in science often does not prepare
students for the "real world" of science they will meet
in later life. For example, they and their parents are confused
by conflicting views about nutrition, vaccination, HIV and global
warming, and by the cacophony of conflicting certainties and crude
characterisations propounded in the media. Part of the challenge
for science education should be to familiarise pupils with the
concept of uncertainty and the fact that much scientific understanding
is provisional, without corroding their confidence in the scientific
38. In Scotland, the development of the
new Curriculum for Excellence, which has the potential
to create more flexible approaches, should be exploited to take
these issues into account in the later stages of school education.
The intention is to develop cross-cutting, interdisciplinary themes;
to address applications and explore real-world relevance; and
focus on active learning in open-ended investigations, together
with discussion, debate and critical thinking. The phasing of
these processes is critical, however. The nuts and bolts of understanding
remain the disciplines which have been the means whereby reality
is analysed and understood and are still powerful drivers of new
knowledge. The integration of these disciplines and intellectual
concepts like complexity are advanced skills and should not be
introduced at too early a stage. To address these challenges effectively,
there needs to be far more opportunities for continuing professional
The roles of universities in the science and society
39. An essential step is a change in culture
whereby societal engagement is rediscovered as a major function
of the universities and regarded as a natural extension of their
research function, as well as one which permits them to promote
their research into the public domain. One way to facilitate this
culture change would be to recognise initiatives in terms of promotion
and pay. The research councils could also strengthen the requirement
for societal engagement in research programmes. We are sceptical
that another stream of funding is called for. To stratify university
activity into an excessive number of specific streams that are
individually funded as if they were not part of the same educational
and research enterprise would be counter-productive. The funding
for societal engagement should be embedded in existing funding
The role of GO-Science, DIUS and other Government
departments, charities, learned societies, Regional Development
Agencies, industry and other stakeholders in determining UK science
and engineering policy
40. We have dealt with most of these issues in
preceding sections of our response. In broad terms, the contribution
of scientific understanding to good government is maximised when
there is policy framework that ensures:
(a) that a science strategy is supported at the
highest level of Government;
(b) that the strategy is wide ranging, comprehensive
and intellectually coherent;
(c) that the best possible advice reaches those
parts of government when & how they need it;
(d) that where appropriate, policies are coordinated
across government rather than stopping at inter-departmental boundaries;
(e) that government encourages and is open to
independent scientific advice and that it learns where these sources
(f) that the public are engaged when there are
science-based issues that present ethical challenges or difficult
(g) and that the need for different levels of
strategy (European, UK, regional) is accepted and that there is
integration between these levels.
How should government science and engineering
policy be scrutinised?
41. Scrutiny by the Westminster and devolved
parliaments and their committees should continue to be rigorous.
This in itself poses a problem. There is a "scrutiny gap".
We have argued above for there to be "nesting" of policies
between EU, UK and regional levels, but nesting based on complementarity
and integration. Failure to achieve this risks gross inefficiencies.
There are already examples of Scotland unnecessarily reinventing
approaches that are already developed in England and vice versa.
It is important that there should be some form of common scrutiny
of these interfaces, rather than only separate scrutiny from European,
UK and devolved parliaments.
42. Public scrutiny is also crucial. Wherever
possible government should be transparent about the information
sources that inform policy decisions and the relationship between
evidence and policy. Public engagement and dialogue, unlike written
consultation exercises, dialogue processes are open and their
outcomes readily scrutinized.
In responding to this consultation the Society
would like to draw attention to the following Royal Society of
Edinburgh responses which are of relevance to this subject:
The Royal Society of Edinburgh's
submission to the review of Guidelines on the use of scientific
advice in policy making (January 2000)
The Royal Society of Edinburgh's submission
to the Scottish Executive Enterprise & Lifelong Learning Department's
consultation into a Science Strategy for Scotland (July
The Royal Society of Edinburgh's
submission to the UK Government consultation, Science and Innovation:
Working Towards a Ten-Year Investment Framework (April 2004)
The Royal Society of Edinburgh's
submission to the Scottish Executive's consultation on a Science
and Innovation Strategy for Scotland (December 2006)
The Royal Society of Edinburgh's
submission to DIUS, A Vision for Science and Society (October
171 We use the term "science" as a shorthand
for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Back