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

Letter from The Rt Hon Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Technology, to the Chairman of the Committee, 12 March 2010

  Thank you for your letter of 3 March 2010. I am pleased that the Committee found the evidence session with Professor Beddington and myself on the 24 February 2010 to be informative. I certainly found our discussion to be helpful to the development of the Government's statement of Principles on scientific advice to government, and would like to thank the Committee for its continued and constructive engagement with this issue.

  In your letter, you set out the Committee's view that the finalised statement of Principles should "contain an unambiguous commitment to academic freedom". I can assure the Committee that the Government fully respects the right of its independent scientific advisers to academic freedom, and is clear that these advisers should be free to pursue, publish and present their research. I recognise that the absence of the specific phrase "academic freedom" is of concern to the scientific community and, as I told the Committee, this is a phrase I expect to be incorporated in the finalised statement.

  I agree with the points you raised on the need for clarity over the protections available to independent scientific advisers should there be a breakdown in their relationship with a Minister. Your comments have been specifically taken into account when drafting the final statement.

  As the Committee is aware, Professor Beddington and I are now considering all consultation inputs, and will be publishing a final statement very soon. I will of course provide the Committee with a copy of this upon its publication.

The Rt Hon Lord Drayson

Minister for Science and Innovation

March 2010

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