The Government's review of the principles applying to the treatment of independent scientific advice provided to government - Science and Technology Contents

4  The treatment of scientific advice across government

41. The Campaign for Science and Engineering pointed out:

The dismissal of Professor David Nutt as chair of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has shown deficiencies in the government's scientific advisory system. CaSE believes that government should respond to this episode by developing a code of conduct for ministers on scientific advice and advisers based upon the Principles of Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice. It should also consider this episode when updating the Guidelines on Scientific Analysis in Policymaking. There is a need to look at the Code of Conduct for Scientific Advisory Committee as well with respect to this dismissal of advisers. The critical issue is to strengthen the integrity of the scientific advisory system.[37]

42. The dismissal of Professor Nutt and the need for the Government to formulate a set of principles raises for us concerns whether:

a)  Government departments have implemented, or are complying with, the recommendations of the Phillips report issued following the BSE crisis—see Annex 2; and

b)  the Government's acceptance of the recommendations on the treatment of scientific advice and evidence-based policy of this committee and its predecessor committee—see Annexes 2 and 3—have been implemented.

We recommend that the Government appoint a panel to carry out a review and report within six months on the treatment of scientific advice across Government, in particular, the implementation of, and compliance with, the recommendations of the Phillips report issued following the BSE crisis and on the adequacy of the arrangements to protect the independence of scientific advice provided to Government.

37   PR 16, para 1 Back

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Prepared 14 December 2009