Examination of Witnesses (Questions 78
WEDNESDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2009
Q78 Chairman: We welcome our second
panel this morning. We welcome very much indeed Dr Tim Bradshaw
from the CBI, Professor Dame Janet Finch, Co-chair of the Council
for Science and Technology, Judy Britton, Deputy Director of Science
in Government, GO-Science and Baroness Onora O'Neill, President
of the British Academy. If I could start with Dr Bradshawthis
is a question that was put to the last paneldo you feel
that the Government is an intelligent customer of scientific and
engineering advice? If not, what should it do to improve the situation?
Dr Bradshaw: Thank you very much
for inviting me to come here today. I think broadly speaking yes,
they are an intelligent customer. However I would like to put
a caveat on that in that science is more than just the sort of
physical and biological natural sciences; we would like to see
a little bit more advice coming in on the social science side.
Previous witnesses mentioned some of the big challenges facing
the countrythings like climate changeand our view
is that part of the solution to that is technological but another
part of that is the behaviour change aspects which will need significant
amounts of social science type research and investments to actually
make sure they take place. That is exactly what business is doing;
they are investing in not just the technology and the R&D
that you see reported, but also in the human factors, social science
aspects of it too so the technologies they bring to market will
actually find traction and make a difference in changed behaviour.
I think if there is one thing the Government can do a little bit
more of is perhaps building up on that social science side as
well as the purer science and engineering side of advice.
Q79 Chairman: In terms of this agenda
of choosing areas of advantageif we do not call it picking
winnersyou feel that the Government has sufficient scientific
and engineering expertise in order to be able to become an intelligent
customer, in order to put tax payers' money into particular areas.
Dr Bradshaw: I think if it draws
on the expertise in the bodies it fundslike the Royal Society,
the research councils, the Technology Strategy Boardand
comes and talks to business and others as well then yes, there
are enough pathways of advice to help the Government. It is a
case of whether it has the vision and ambition to actually use
those effectively. We will see; it is getting there perhaps.