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