Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Memorandum from Government on "Evidence Check"

This memorandum was collated by the Government Office for Science in response to the former House of Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee's "Evidence Checks".

The response to the first Evidence Check was received on 28 September 2009. The response to the second Evidence Check was received on 13 November 2009.


  [See Ev 60]


  [See Science and Technology Committee, Second Report of Session 2009-10, Evidence Check 1: Literacy Interventions, HC 44, Ev 101]


  This response was provided by the Department of Health.

Q1  What is the Government's policy regarding the production of a swine flu vaccine and its distribution to the population?

Government policy is to purchase vaccine licensed for use in Europe in accordance with the European Directive on Procurement. The vaccine has been produced in Europe.

The Secretary of State for Health announced the priority groups for the swine flu vaccine on 13 August. More than 11 million people in England will be targeted first. The vaccine will initially be prioritised to those groups of people who are at highest risk of severe illness, as well as frontline health and social care workers.

  Based on the current delivery forecasts from both manufacturers, we expect to have approximately 55 million doses available by the end of the year—enough for up to about 30 million people to be vaccinated—with more following after that. The vaccine will be delivered in phases as stocks become available. The vaccine may be licensed by early October and this could result in the vaccination programme being rolled out from mid October.

Q2  What expert scientific and medical advice have been used to steer the Government's policy?

  The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reviewed the evidence and advised the Department of Health on these priority groups. This advice was also scrutinised and endorsed by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

We will continue to take the best independent scientific advice to inform our decisions on the response to swine flu.

  The following groups will be prioritised for the swine flu vaccine in this order (numbers given are approximate and are for England only):

    1. People aged over six months and under 65 years in current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about 5 million people).

    2. All pregnant women, subject to licensing conditions on trimesters (about 0.5 million people).

    3. Household contacts of people with compromised immune systems eg people in regular close contact with patients on treatment for cancer (about 0.5 million people).

    4. People aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups (about 3.5 million people). This does not include otherwise healthy over 65s, since they appear to have some natural immunity to the virus.

  Vaccination of frontline health and social care workers (approximately 2 million people) will begin at the same time as the first at-risk group, and will continue for as long as necessary. This group is at increased risk of infection and of transmitting that infection to susceptible patients. Protecting these people will help the NHS workforce to remain resilient and able to treat sick patients.


  [See Science and Technology Committee, Second Report of Session 2009-10, Evidence Check 1: Literacy Interventions, HC 44, Ev 34]


  This response was provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Q1  What is the Government's interpretation of the term "pseudoscience"?

The Government does not find it helpful to define pseudoscience. It is committed to policy-making based on scientific evidence. By science we mean all-encompassing knowledge based on scholarship and research which is underpinned by methodologies that build up and test increased understanding about the world and beyond.

Q2  What is the Government's position on universities that award BSc and MSc in subjects that are pseudoscientific? When recruiting staff, does the Government recognise such qualifications as providing the holder with scientific expertise?

All universities undertake research and teaching, but HEIs are autonomous institutions and decide the courses or content of the higher education they offer to their students who make informed choices about the curriculum they choose to study. In relation to degrees in specific disciplines, there may be further processes around accreditation and recognition by professional bodies, which may allow some judgements to be made about, for example; the quality of course content, teaching, skills acquired, but this is not for Government to prescribe.

The standards of degrees awarded by HEIs, and the quality of learning opportunities, are subject to independent review by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and external examiners. Since the QAA was established in 1997 its reviews have consistently indicated that quality and standards are being maintained.

  Departments have delegated responsibility for recruitment and should have robust processes in place for ensuring that appointments are made on merit. When appointing, departments will look at the skills, experience and qualifications required for the role. For some roles, a particular scientific expertise or qualification might be sought from any range of appropriate disciplines.


  This response was provided by the Department of Health.

Q1  What is the Government's policy on the provision of free health checks for over 40s?

From 2009-10, the NHS is being asked to implement a uniform and universal vascular risk assessment and management programme called the NHS Health Check programme, for everyone in England between 40 and 74. The proposals for this programme were set out in Putting Prevention First published on 1 April 2008.

Vascular diseases, that is heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, are the biggest cause of death in the UK, and the NHS Health Check programme could on average prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes and save at least 650 lives each year. The programme could prevent over 4,000 people a year from developing diabetes and detect at least 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease earlier, allowing individuals to be better managed and improve their quality of life.

  Vascular disease also makes up approximately a third of the difference in life expectancy between spearhead areas and the rest of England. This programme will help ensure greater focus on the prevention of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, and will help people remain well for longer. Type II diabetes mellitus is a growing public health concern. Its prevalence is increasing and diabetes contributes significantly to overall health inequalities within England. This programme offers a real opportunity to make significant inroads in tackling health inequalities, including socio-economic, ethnic and gender inequalities.

  The purpose of an NHS Health Check is to identify an individual's risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease, for this risk to be communicated in a way that the individual understands, and for that risk to be managed by appropriate follow-up, including being recalled every five years for reassessment.

  The check itself involves a standard assessment based on straightforward questions and measurements. These would record basic information such as height, weight, current medication, age, family history, smoking and blood pressure and include a simple blood test for cholesterol and (in some cases) glucose levels. This will be followed up with personalised advice on how to lower that risk and maintain a healthy lifestyle. For those at low risk, this might be no more than general advice on how to stay healthy. Others at moderate risk may be recommended a weight management programme, stop smoking service, or a brief intervention to increase levels of physical activity. Those at high risk might require medication with statins or blood pressure treatment, or an intensive lifestyle management programme for those identified with impaired glucose regulation. A few may need further assessment or tests.

  We also expect to identify people who already have a vascular disease where it has so far gone undetected, particularly type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease. In such cases patients will benefit from an immediate start on a disease management programme to manage their condition and prevent adverse complications.

Q2  What evidence (specifically cost-benefit analyses) led to the formulation of this policy? What evidence has been used to support health benefit claims (eg lives saved per year)?

  The NHS Health Check programme is both cost effective and clinically effective.

The approach taken in the programme is based on economic modelling undertaken by the Department of Health (DH) which has used guidance produced by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Evidence (which reviews the clinical and cost effectiveness of interventions in medicine).

  The full details of the analysis undertaken by the Department are set out in the Impact Assessment which can be viewed on the DH website (http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsLegislation/DH_090351). It shows the cost of the programme to be £332 million each year and the average annual benefit to be £3,678 million. Based on these figures, the NHS Health Check programme is highly cost effective. (The costs are the costs of the checks and net lifetime costs of interventions given to the cohort of individuals checked in the first 20 years. The benefits are calculated on the basis that each quality adjusted life year a patient enjoys has an estimated social value of £50,000).

  Quality-adjusted life years are a measure of how many extra years of life of a reasonable quality a person might gain as a result of treatment.

  The modelling also showed that the programme would cost around £3,500 per quality-adjusted life year gained. This is considerably below the £20-30,000 per quality-adjusted life year threshold that NICE uses to assess cost effectiveness and therefore, according to this test, the programme is highly cost effective.


  This response was provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Q1  What generic social and economic benefits are derived from funding research with public money?

Publicly funded excellent research produces new knowledge and understanding, which is a benefit in its own right, but also generates significant economic impact. The Warry Report,[41] drew on the HM Treasury Green Book, to define economic impact as follows:

    "An action or activity has an economic impact when it affects the welfare of consumers, the profits of firms and/or the revenue of government. Economic impacts range from those that are readily quantifiable, in terms of greater wealth, cheaper prices and more revenue, to those less easily quantifiable, such as effects on the environment, public health and quality of life."

      Economic impact is delivered by publicly funded research via many routes, including:

      — Creating new businesses.

      — Improving the performance of existing businesses.

      — Delivering highly skilled people to the labour market.

      — Attracting R&D investment from global business.

      — Improving public policy and public services.

    Q2  What evidence is there for social and economic benefits? How is this evidence used to determine funding priorities?

      There is extensive evidence of the benefits of publicly funded research. A report that looks at the economic impact of the research base as a whole is produced annually by BIS (formerly by DIUS), and is structured around an Economic Impact Reporting Framework, which portrays the generation of economic impacts at the aggregate economy level.[42] It is wide ranging, and includes sections on the five routes to economic impact bulleted above, as well as others. In 2006 the then DTI published Making the most of UK Research, a collection of case studies of benefits from research.[43]

    Each Research Council prepared initial Economic Impact baselines as part of their Delivery Plans published in December 2007, and updated versions were published this year.[44]

      The impact of other funding streams has been independently evaluated. The Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) is one such stream,[45] and its impact on knowledge transfer is borne out by the annual Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction (HE-BCI) survey,[46] which shows universities external income rising to record levels of over £2.8 billion per year. The Science Research Infrastructure Fund (SRIF) has been shown to have dramatically improved research infrastructure, and to have wider benefits in terms of researcher productivity and ability to attract other funding.[47] The knowledge transfer performance of Public Sector Research Establishments is also improving, bringing in record levels of external income.[48]

      The research community itself also regularly carries out evaluation of the economic impact of research. To pick just a few recent examples, the Russell Group have evaluated the impact of research in their universities,[49] the Wellcome Trust has assessed the economic benefits of medical research,[50] and Oxford Economics have assessed the economic effects of fundamental physics research.[51]

      Before allocating the Science and Research Budget, DIUS collected evidence on the activities and performance of all funding lines. All the Research Councils and the Academies provided detailed delivery plans, which set out what future investment would deliver against the overarching objectives. Other key programmes, such as HEIF and SRIF, were subject to independent evaluation.

      The following factors were taken into account in determining the Science Budget Allocations to individual Research Councils and Academies:

      — a thorough assessment of draft Research Council and Academy Delivery Plans for CSR07;

      - the strength of the case for increasing the investment in any particular area of research in CSR07; and

      — a full evaluation of the performance of each of the Research Councils and Academies through the SR04 period.

      The allocation of the Quality-related Research block grant to Higher Education Institutions by HEFCE has in the past been informed by the results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). HEFCE are currently developing the Research Excellence Framework (REF) to replace the RAE. The REF will for the first time explicitly take account of the impact research makes on the economy and society.


      This response was provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

    Q1  What is the Government's policy on the development and commercialisation of genetically modified crops?

    The Government confirmed its current Policy on GM crops in a Parliamentary statement in March 2004. Safety is the Governments top priority and as such we follow the science and assess potential GM crops on a case-by-case basis. This is consistent with the existing EU legislation which requires genetically modified organisms to be cleared for trial or commercial release, with decisions based on an assessment of the risk to human health and the environment.

    The Government acknowledges that GM crops could offer potential benefits over the longer term. We should keep an open mind, but continue to be led by the science.

    Q2  What evidence and expert advice has been used to determine government policy regarding genetically modified crops?

      The Government receives expert advice on individual applications to release GM crops from the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. It conducts an independent scientific evaluation and advises on the potential risks for human health and the environment.

    The Government's broad policy on GM outlined above was informed by the findings of the "GM Dialogue" process that it sponsored in 2003. This had three strands: a public debate run by an independent board; a GM science review led by the then Government Chief Scientist; and a study of the overall costs and benefits of GM crops, undertaken by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit. Further details can be found on Defra's website http://www.defra.gov.uk/ENVIRONMENT/gm/crops/debate/


      This response was provided by the Health and Safety executive.

    Q1  What is the Government's policy on the regulation of synthetic biology?

    The Government recognises that this is a new and exciting field of technology, which has the potential to deliver benefits in areas such as medicine, manufacturing, and the environment. However, there is also a need to identify, anticipate and address any societal issues that might arise from synthetic biology, whilst enabling UK research and industry to harness the technology to develop and deliver benefits for society.

    Synthetic biology involves a range of techniques culminating in the insertion of synthetic heritable material into living cells. In many ways this is an extension of existing recombinant DNA technologies. Consequently the Government considers that most applications are likely to fall under existing legislation covering the development and use of genetically modified organisms.

      Future work may involve the creation of artificial cells, which would not fall within the scope of existing legislation. Consequently, a minor amendment is being proposed to the definition of GM as part of the development of a single regulatory framework for work with human and animal pathogens and GMOs. This will enable the regulations to cover artificial cells, should the technology develop in that direction. This change will be consulted on prior to the implementation of the new regulatory system.

      The Government also recognises that the regulatory system needs to be kept under review to ensure that it is able to deal with the likely development and applications of synthetic biology, including those relating to biosafety, biosecurity and the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. In doing so, it recognises that lessons should be drawn from the past to help ensure regulations keep pace with, or anticipate, scientific developments.

    Q2  What evidence and expert advice will the Government seek to underpin future regulation? Are current regulations adequate or will a new regulatory framework be required?

      The Government regularly checks the appropriateness of the existing UK GM legislation (GMO deliberate release and GMO contained use regulations) to deal with new technologies, including synthetic biology. Scientific advice on the topic has been sought from scientific advisory committees (Advisory Committee for Releases into the Environment (ACRE), and Scientific Advisory Committee for Genetic Modification (SACGM (CU)), the UK research councils, and other government departments and agencies.

    The Government will continue to consult a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the regulatory system is appropriate, and that the best advice is available to evaluate developments in synthetic biology.

      It is widely anticipated that most applications of synthetic biology will start in the laboratory in compliance with the GMO contained use regulations, before a proportion will progress to deliberate release. Activities falling under the GMO contained use regulations contained will require risk assessment and proportionate and appropriate containment.

      Deliberate release applications can only be approved once sufficient supporting knowledge and data is available. Defra and HSE are also involved in a working group under the auspices of the European Commission, which is considering the new technologies in light of existing GM definitions and legislation. The working group will report to the EC in October.

      UK legislation covering the contained use of genetically modified organisms is under review, with the intention of creating new legislation amalgamating the GM legislation with the contained use of human and animal pathogens. This provides an opportunity to ensure that aspects of synthetic biology that might be outside the scope of current legislation are encompassed in the emerging single regulatory framework. The proposed amendment extends the definition of genetic modification to include the "introduction of genetic material into a cell artificially created for that purpose, where the cell is then capable of replication or of transferring genetic material". It is felt that this amendment will be sufficient to ensure that synthetic biology is fully covered by UK legislation. A full consultation exercise will be carried out before the definition is incorporated into the regulations.


      This response was provided by the Ministry of Justice.

    Q1  What is the Government's policy on the use of offender data (eg, employment, access to finance)?

    Whether offender data relating to convictions can be used for most purposes is dependent on whether a conviction is spent or unspent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. The Act serves to help rehabilitate those who have stayed on the right side of the law for a period of time, thereby assisting reformed ex-offenders find jobs, obtain insurance and avoid discrimination.

    Until a conviction is spent it may have to be declared for any purpose—for instance when obtaining financial products, seeking employment, or applying for any sort of licence, for instance a licence to sell alcohol or engage in a certain type of business. This is fair as an unspent conviction may indicate a relevant risk, and is a fair consequence of a criminal penalty.

      However once a conviction is spent under the Act it is treated—for most purposes—as if it doesn't exist. This reflects the fact that the ex-offender has remained on the right side of the law for a specified period and proven they pose less of a risk in most circumstances.

      As the rehabilitation periods differ according to the sentence imposed the period for which a conviction needs to be disclosed is related to the severity of the individual offence.

      However there are certain positions—particularly those involving access to children and vulnerable adults, and working in positions of exceptional trust or for the State—where the employer needs to be able to take the most stringent of assessments in order to minimise a genuine risk. For instance those working in the police, looking after children or vulnerable adults, or working with access to highly controlled substances, can potentially cause a much greater level of harm if they do offend. For this reason there are certain purposes where an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act exists. These are all specified by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as subsequently amended on numerous occasions). Amendments to the order are by means of a Statutory Instrument subject to affirmative procedure.

      The government's policy is that those areas listed on this order are deemed sufficiently sensitive that the employer should always be able to see a person's full record, including all spent convictions and cautions, in order to come to a fair judgment on their suitability (and any appropriate safeguards) based on the full available evidence.

      But it is equally important to note that having a criminal conviction is not an automatic bar to employment in any of these areas. The government believes that it is important for employers to take a balanced view on the fact that an individual has a criminal conviction, whether spent or unspent, taking into account factors such as how long it is since the offence, the person's age at the time of the offence, the relevance of the offence, and what else is known about the individual's character and conduct before and since.

      In order to obtain a Criminal Records Bureau disclosure containing details of spent convictions, it is necessary for the employer to make a declaration that it is for purposes specified in the ROA Exceptions Order. An employer obtaining details of spent convictions by means of a fraudulent statement would be committing an offence.

      It is the government's belief that this system—within the framework of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the Police Act 1997, and fine-tuned by updates to both primary and secondary legislation—helps create a balance between the need to disclose offender data when there is a need to do so for purposes of protecting the public, and the need to enable reformed ex-offenders to put their past behind them at all other times.

    Q2  What evidence is there to support the various ways in which offender data are used?

      Statistical evidence is hard to obtain when one is dealing with subjective decisions. The system can be said to have worked either when an offender gets a job and does not re-offend, or when an offender is prevented from entering a job where they intended to cause harm.

    The latter is impossible to prove. There is no proof that an ex-offender would re-offend if placed in a sensitive position, even if their criminal conviction was recent, serious and relevant. In some cases an individual who is barred from a sensitive position may—had he or she been employed in that position—have gone on to commit a serious offence or abuse of trust; in other cases they could have gone on to have a faultless record. It is impossible to produce definitive figures on an event which has not been given the opportunity to happen. However when employers make judgments they have to do so on the basis of a fair risk analysis using their knowledge of the job, the opportunities it affords, and the record of the person applying.

      CRB statistics, compiled by MORI, indicated that in 2008, around 18,000 unsuitable people were prevented from working with children and/or vulnerable adults as a direct result of a CRB check, bringing the total to around 98,000 people in the past five years. This, even when assessed with the caveats above, would still indicate that the purpose of the system to bar unsuitable candidates is working.

      As there is no control study it is hard to use these statistics as proof of the effectiveness of the current system. However they do provide evidence which supports the way in which offender data is currently used. These statistics indicate that there are those on both sides of the system—employers of sensitive positions and ex-offenders—who have benefited from the system. As long as the decision to share information is balanced in terms of being necessary, eg to protect the public, and proportionate, eg to the risk the offender poses, it can benefit all parties.

      As to whether a better balance could be established, improving one or both of these sets of figures—this is certainly something to which the government aspires. The 2002 Home Office report "Breaking the Circle" recommended reforms to the ROA and the government has made a commitment to work on implementing the proposals. And the Vetting and Barring Scheme, established under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, will enable a better, fairer and more joined-up approach to vetting those working with children and vulnerable adults. But the fundamentals of the scheme—that once convictions are spent they are only made available to those who have a need to know—are working and will not be changed. The next phase of the scheme commences in October 2009 with a phased implementation of registration under the scheme being introduced between July 2010 and 2015.


      Information-sharing between criminal justice agencies is necessary for effective sentencing and the protection of the public. Information about offenders is currently shared between the police, prison and probation services to enable staff to manage offenders effectively, as provided for within the Offender Management Act 2007 (s14). Probation may request information from the police service for a range of reasons to enable the public to be protected, including for the following purposes: for bail information interviews and reports; at the pre-sentence stage, for making appropriate sentence recommendations; to make appropriate placement decisions for unpaid work (community payback) requirements; assessment for licence conditions prior to the release of a prisoner; for informing reports to the Parole Board for considering an offender's parole.

    However, this must be within the parameters of relevant legislation and guidance, which are designed to balance the rights of the individual, ie the subject of the information being shared, with the rights of society to be protected from that individual. Therefore, information shared about a person must be both necessary (eg to meet the probation purposes of managing risk of harm) and proportionate (eg to the risk posed by that person). These principles should govern the decision by the police service to share information in the first place and the decision by the probation service over whether to use the information to inform their report.

      The National Offender Management Service is in the process of agreeing an information-sharing protocol with the Association of Chief Police Officers to formalise the processes for exchanging information between the police and probation services for the effective management of offenders. The agreement will set out the purpose and principles of information-sharing, along with the legal basis for offender management activity, and the legislation governing the disclosure of personal data. It will provide for and encourage the sharing of information in certain circumstances, but make the legal implications to earlier and more widespread information-sharing clear.

      Certain offenders are managed under the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements. MAPPA is a process where the Responsible Authority (police, prison and probation services together with a number of Duty to Co-operate Services which include Jobcentre Plus and Housing) work together to manage the identified risks presented by these offenders.

      MAPPA applies to:

      — sexual offenders who are required to notify the police of their details under the Sexual Offences Act 2003;

      — violent offenders as defined by Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 who are sentenced to 12 months custody or more; and

      — those dangerous offenders who have a previous conviction or caution for a violent offence who the Responsible Authority (police, prison and probation services) consider present a risk of serious harm to others.

      MAPPA relates to offenders in the community and each MAPPA offender will be assessed to identify the level of multi agency management they require and in every case whether a disclosure regarding the risks the offender presents should be made to another person/organisation to protect others from harm. There is occasions where disclosure will be made to an employer to ensure that the offender is not placed in a situation which would be unsuitable for the risks they pose; for example, a sexual offender working unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults. All decisions regarding disclosure are recorded on the case management system.

      Where an offender is actively multi agency managed through MAPPA at level 2 or 3 (this means that a number of agencies are actively working together to share information, identify risks and establish a multi agency risk management plan which can require the commitment of additional resources), the disclosure decision will be formally recorded at the MAPP meeting. Where disclosure is to take place, the details of the information to be disclosed, who to and who by will be recorded in the MAPP meeting minutes and recorded on ViSOR. ViSOR is a database which has been developed to be used by police prison and probation to assist in the management of violent and sexual offenders. It is a confidential system which is used by the police as their primary case management system with sexual offenders. The prison and probation services use it to share information which enhances risk assessments.


      This memorandum was prepared by the Government Office for Science.

    Public Sector Research Establishments

    Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) deliver a strategic research capability to the Government that is not readily provided by the market.

    As described in Tables 1 and 2, PSREs are affiliated to government departments and to Research Councils. Information is provided on PSREs that have been: privatised (Table 3); privatised in part (Table 4); established as companies limited by guarantee (Table 5); and transferred to universities (Table 6) between 1997 and 2009. This information has been provided to GO-Science by the relevant government departments. Should any additional information be received by GO-Science it will be provided to the Committee.

    Departmental R&D budgets

      A summary of key science, engineering and technology indicators is available in SET Statistics here: http://www.dius.gov.uk/¥/media/publications/4/48-08-I_on.

    This includes a historical analysis of the Government departmental funding of science, engineering and technology (SET) activities.

Table 1

Government department Number of PSREsPSREs

Health and Safety Executive
1—  Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL)
Department of Health1 —  Health Protection Agency (HPA)
Department for Culture, Media and Sport 18—  13 National museums and art galleries [British Museum, Imperial War Museum, National Gallery, National Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool, National Museum of Science and Industry, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Royal Armouries, Sir John Soane's Museum, Tate Galleries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Wallace Collection]
—  English Heritage
—  Sport England
—  Arts Council England
—  Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
—  UK Film Council
Department for Environment, Food and Rural 6—  Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
Affairs—  Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA)
—  Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA)
—  Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA)
—  Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)
—  Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Forestry Commission1 —  Forest Research
Ministry of Defence5 —  Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)
—  Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA)
—  Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
—  Hydrographic Office (UKHO)
—  The Met Office
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 3—  National Physical Laboratory (NPL)1
—  National Measurement Office (NMO)
—  United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)
Home Office2—  Forensic Science Service (FSS)2
—  National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA)

1  The National Physical Laboratory is a Government owned company.
2  The Forencis Science Service if a Government owned company.

Table 2

Research CouncilsNumber of PSREs PSREs
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research 5—  Babraham Institute
Council BBSRC)—  Institute for Animal Health (IAH)
—  Institute of Food Research
—  John Innes Centre (JIC)
—  Rothamsted Research
Medical Research Council (MRC)3 —  National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)
—  Clinical Sciences Centre (CSC)
—  Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB)
Natural Environment Research Council
6—  British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
(NERC)—  British Geological Survey (BGS)
—  Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
—  National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS)
—  Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory
—  Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS)
Science and Technology Facilities Council
5—  Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (includes Chilbolton) (RAL)
(STFC)—  Daresbury Laboratory
—  UK Astronomy Technology Centre (ATC)
—  The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING)
—  The Joint Astronomy Centre (JAC)

Table 3

PSREs PRIVATISED (1997-2009)
Affiliated government department/
Research Council


Date privatised


Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF)
Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) April 1997—  A prior options review found all of ADAS's R&D functions to be suitable for privatisation. On this basis, ADAS was transferred to the private sector as ADAS Consulting Ltd on 1 April 1997.

Table 4

Affiliated government department/Research Council

Date privatised in part


Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
UKAEASeptember 2009 —  UKAEA is an NDPB. Until September 2009 UKAEA conducted three main activities: fusion research; pensions administration; and decommissioning of nuclear facilities (a commercial business).
—  In September 2009, UKAEA established UKAEA Ltd as a separate limited company, and subsidiary to the NDPB. UKAEA Ltd now conducts all work relating to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.
—  The decision to establish UKAEA Ltd was made following a strategic review of the business in 2005 and that establishing a commercial business would produce the optimal value for HMG and make best use of the skills and resources held by the organisation whilst responding to demand in the market place. The resulting sale to the private sector of this commercial part of the organisation was the natural and successful outcome of this strategy. The UKAEA's status as a PSRE remains unchanged as a result of this decision as the activities of UKAEA Ltd are entirely commercial (for profit) and no research is undertaken.
Ministry of DefenceDefence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) July 2001—  The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), an MOD Trading Fund, was the predecessor organisation to QinetiQ and Dstl. The Strategic Defence Review in 1998 proposed that DERA be subject to a Public Private Partnership in order to "strengthen its ability to continue to provide world class scientific research". This was the first step in the route to privatisation.
—  In particular, DERA was faced with increasing competition from the civil sector, due to technologies in which the civil sector was dominant becoming increasingly relevant to the MOD, and a declining defence research budget. This meant that without the capital and freedoms that privatisation offered, DERA would decline as a force in technology over the longer term.
—  Privatisation was intended to improve access to technologies from the civil sector to military application; enhance the opportunity for the exploitation of technology locked up in DERA; introduce private capital into DERA to meet its investment needs; thereby accelerating its development; and provide increased freedoms, such as in its ability to grow commercial business.
Department of HealthPublic Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) March 2005—  The microbiological media supply function of the PHLS was sold to Oxoid Ltd in March 2005 after careful consideration of all the options for ensuring a robust supply of high quality media to the NHS which represented good value for money. The sale to Oxoid was considered to offer the best option on all the criteria applied.
—  PHLS was disbanded in 2005 (most of its functions having been transferred to the Health Protection Agency Special Health Authority in 2003).

Table 5

Affiliated government department/Research Council Former PSREEstablished as a company Rationale

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) April 2002—  Arising from changes in priorities of research funding, NERC conducted a wide ranging review to identify the most appropriate future organisation of all its coastal and marine laboratories which would maximise local opportunities whilst maintaining the excellence of their science. In the case of PML, NERC decided to establish it as an independent company limited by guarantee.
DefraHorticulture Research International (HRI)

(HRI was jointly affiliated to Defra and BBSRC)
April 2004—  Part of HRI, East Malling research station, was established as EMR a company limited by guarantee and registered charity. The remainder was transferred to the University of Warwick (Table 6).
—  The decision to establish EMR as a company limited by guarantee [with continued charitable status] taken following an independent review, led by Dr Derek Langslow (former Chief Executive of English Nature), and a public consultation exercise. Ministers accepted the review's conclusions that HRI's function continued to be required but that it was unviable as then constituted (five sites dispersed across England) and against a background of declining Defra funding and inadequate industry funding.
—  The transfer of HRI to the University had been under discussion between the two parties and Defra even before the review and the review team recommended that these discussions should be concluded quickly. The majority of respondents to the public consultation exercise agreed that a merger represented a good opportunity for the future success of HRI as it offered high potential synergy and support for HRI's business development and commercial activities.

Table 6

Affiliated government department/Research Council Former PSRETransfer date University

Horticulture Research International

(HRI was jointly affiliated to Defra and BBSRC)
April 2004—  Part of HRI (HRI Wellesbourne) was transferred to the University of Warwick.

—  The remainder was established as a company limited by guarantee (Table 5).
BBSRCInstitute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER) April 2008—  The Welsh site transferred to Aberystwyth University. North Wyke Research (formerly part of the IGER) became a component of Rothamsted Research.
BBSRCThe Roslin Institute April 2008—  University of Edinburgh.

28 September 2009


  This response was provided by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Q1  What is the Government's policy on the use of Brain Gym and the teaching of its underlying theory in schools?

The Department is aware of "Brain Gym", which is presented as learning readiness activities to help children of all physical, social and learning abilities to develop and practice sensory-motor skills for related learning skills.

The Department does not have a specific policy on the use of Brian Gym. We are unaware of any sufficiently robust or peer-reviewed evaluation of the approaches it promotes, which would allow any clear link between the use of Brain Gym and pupils' learning to be established. We are also aware of a significant body of criticism of the theoretical underpinnings of the programme, set out below.

  Overall, Brain Gym has not been evaluated using a robust and appropriate methodology, therefore no conclusions about its effectiveness can be drawn using the existing sources of information.

Q2  What scientific evidence is there that Brain Gym works? Does the Government support the scientific theory behind Brain Gym?

  Brain Gym has been criticised as being unscientific in a wide-ranging and authoritative review of research into neuroscience and education.

Peer reviewed scientific studies into Brain Gym have found no significant improvement in general academic skills. Brain Gym's claimed results have been put down to the placebo effect and the general benefits of breaks and exercise. Brain Gym's founder, Paul Dennison, has admitted that many of Brain Gym's claims are not based on good science, but on his "hunches".[52]

  In 2008 Sense About Science published a briefing document in which thirteen British scientists responded to statements taken from the "Brain Gym guide (Teacher's Edition)". Each of them entirely rejected the statements that were put to them. Brain Gym's scientific content was described as "pseudo-scientific". One of the scientists, Professor of neuroscience Colin Blakemore, said that "there have been a few peer reviewed scientific studies into the methods of Brain Gym, but none of them found a significant improvement in general academic skills. Sense about Science, along with the British Neuroscience Association and the Physiological Society, wrote to every Local Education Authority in Britain to warn them about the program.[53]

  In 2007 Dr Keith Hyat of Western Washington University[54] wrote a paper in which he analysed the available research into Brain Gym, as well as its theoretical basis. He concluded that Brain Gym is not supported by research, and that its theoretical basis does not stand up. The paper also encouraged teachers to learn how to read and understand research, to avoid teaching material that has no rational basis.

Background notes

  Brain Gym is a commercial training program created in the 1970's by Dr Paul Dennison and Gail E Dennison, who "were seeking more effective ways to help children and adults of all physical, social and learning abilities, in particular those identified through the programme as "learning disabled."[55]

The program is based on the premise that all learning begins with movement, and that any learning challenges can be overcome by finding the right movements, to subsequently create new pathways in the brain. It claims that the repetition of certain movements "activates the brain for optimal storage and retrieval of information" and "promotes efficient communication among the many nerve cells and functional centres located throughout the brain and sensory motor system. There are 26 of these exercises, which are designed to "integrate body and mind" in order to improve "concentration, memory, reading, writing, organising, listening, physical coordination, and more.

  Educational Kinesiology teaches that brain function is defined in terms of three dimensions: laterality is the ability to co-ordinate the left and right sides of the brain, focus is the ability to co-ordinate the front and back of the brain, and centering is the ability to co-ordinate the top and bottom of the brain. According to Brain Gym, people whose brains are not interconnected properly in the three different dimensions suffer from corresponding deficits; for example, the ability to move and think at the same time is dependent on laterality (left to right co-ordination). The Brain Gym exercises are claimed to work by interconnecting the brain in these three dimensions. Anatomical, physiological and neurological research does not support this model.


  This response was provided by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Q1  (a)   How does the Government identify school children who do not speak English as a first language and/or who need additional training in English?


From 2007 the School Census included a new Pupil First Language question. This allows schools to record each pupil's first language, rather than simply recording whether or not that language is English.

Pupils who do not speak English as a first language are identified through this census and a pupil's first language is defined as any language other than English that a child was exposed to during early development and continues to be exposed to in the home or community.

  If a child was exposed to more than one language (which may include English) during early development, a language other than English should be recorded, irrespective of the child's proficiency in English.


  Pupil First Language data is collected from either parents or pupils as part of the school's admissions process and is usually obtained after parents have received confirmation of their child's place at the school. This information is also collected for new pupils arriving during the academic year.

Local Authority Data, Statistics, IT and Ethnic Minority Achievement (EMA) teams within Local Authorities are involved in the data collection process. They work closely in planning and implementing the data collection.

  School administrative staff will input the information once this has been collected, but the collection process needs to be led by the school's Senior Management Team (SMT) and supported by specialist EMA staff, who should assist administrative staff in making decisions about how to record replies which cannot be mapped easily to the language code set.

  DCSF statisticians use the School Census as a source for the Language variable which aggregates the pupils' language into the following seven main groups:

    — English.

    — Not known but believed to be English.

    — Other than English.

    — Not known but believed to be other than English.

    — Refused.

    — Information not obtained.

    — Invalid code.

Q1  (b)   How are children whose first language is not English taught English?

  National Strategies, a DCSF delivery partner have developed guidance with detailed strategies to help teachers support EAL pupils in the acquisition of English. They have focused on creating an inclusive learning culture by developing an inclusive curriculum to support learning and teaching. Pupils with EAL are generally taught in the mainstream class using scaffolding learning strategies and other methods that involve keeping cognitive challenges high. The following National Strategies publications provide guidance and advice on teaching pupils with EAL. Excellence and Enjoyment: Learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years. http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/85322

Rationale for planning for children learning English as an additional language http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/47481

Q2  What evidence is used to support the method of identifying and teaching those children who require additional language support?

Method of identification

  The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 places a duty on schools to `monitor and assess how their policies affect ethnic minority pupils, staff and parents'. Monitoring by ethnicity and language allows schools and Local Authorities (LAs) to compare the performance of different ethnic groups and assess the needs of those who seem to be underachieving.

The collection of first language data can make a major contribution to the planning and implementation of strategies which promote equality, value diversity and support the educational inclusion of all pupils. Good quality language data is also of particular importance where provision for pupils who speak more than one language is involved.

Language data also supports the analysis of pupil attainment at school, local and national level, and assists LAs and schools in their use of ethnic background data, providing valuable complementary information and a means of validating ethnicity data.

  Children learning EAL are among the highest and the lowest achieving groups nationally and because of this it is important that schools look at the achievement of children from different ethnic groups who are learning EAL.

  Proper analysis and understanding of data will make it possible to gain a better insight into the many and complex issues that may contribute to variations in attainment by different groups of learners.

EAL Pedagogy/Method of teaching

  Research shows that language support is best provided within the curriculum wherever possible, as time out of subject lessons for additional language tuition is ultimately likely to cause the learner to fall further behind in the curriculum.

Research over the past two decades into the development of young bilingual learners has resulted in the development of a number of theories and principles that underpin the distinctive pedagogy for children who are learning EAL—children for whom the additional language being learned is also the medium of education. The development of EAL pedagogy has been influenced by social constructivist theories which emphasise the importance of scaffolding learning, and those which highlight the importance of socio-cultural and emotional factors. Children learning EAL will be affected by attitudes towards them, their culture, language, religion and ethnicity.

  There has been a great deal of research over the past two decades into the development of young bilinguals—international, national and local including classroom-based action research. This has resulted in the development of important theories, principles and knowledge that have underpinned the development of these materials. The practical ideas, supporting materials and approaches included have been developed and trialled with the support of Local Authorities (LAs) and a large number of schools as part of the Primary National Strategy during 2004-06.


  Research undertaken has looked at:

    — How well children from ethnic minority backgrounds are actually doing in our schools.

    — The characteristics of effective schools.

    — The language and literacy skills and academic achievement of bilingual learners.

  The following extract from an OfSTED publication HMI 250 2001 Inspecting English as an additional language 5-16 states on page 17 that "Inspection evidence demonstrates that the most effective work is closely linked to the National Curriculum and that withdrawal from the mainstream should be limited with outcomes carefully monitored. In particular, de-contextualised language activities are rarely productive."

  The QCA (now known as QCDA) booklet—A language in Common: Assessing English as an additional language is a guide for Teachers and headteachers of pupils and students with English as an additional language, LEA support services, and English teachers. It has been developed to support the assessment of pupils of all ages for whom English is an additional language. The guide is intended to help teachers ensure that all their pupils develop as competent and confident speakers and writers of English.

  The studies of academics, including those below, have been taken into account when developing the English education system of approach to supporting pupils with EAL.

REFERENCESBruner, J S (1975) "Language as an instrument of thought", in Davies, A (ed) Problems of Language and Learning, Heinemann.

Cummins, J (1986) "Language proficiency and academic achievement", in Cummins, J and Swain, M, Bilingualism in Education, Longman.

Cummins, J (2000) Language power and pedagogy: bilingual children in the crossfire, in Bilingual education and bilingualism series, Multilingual Matters.

Vygotsky, L S (1962) Thought and Language, MIT Press.


  This response was provided by the Home Office.

Street lighting and crime

Q1  What is the Government's policy on the use of street lighting to reduce crime?

  There is a well established body of evidence to show that the design and layout of places has a significant impact reducing crime and fear of crime. Home Office guidance recommends that designing out crime and designing in community safety should be central to the planning and good design of the built environment and that as part of good design the role lighting can play in reducing crime should be considered.

Further, Home Office guidance also reflects that in any crime reduction programme, street lighting should be considered in co-ordination with other intervention strategies not least because of the role it plays in increasing community pride and informal social control.

The companion guide to Planning Policy Statement 1 "Safer Places, The Planning System and Crime Prevention" (ODPM/Home Office 2004) for example highlights that well-designed public lighting increases the opportunity for surveillance at night and sends out positive messages about the management of an area but that it needs to be sensitive to the needs of residents and users and should provide security without resulting in glare and compromising privacy.

Q2  On what evidence is the Government basing this policy?

  A systematic review of existing international evidence on the effectiveness of improved street lighting on crime was published in 2008 (review for the Campbell Collaboration, by David Farrington & Brandon Welsh). The review concluded that improved street lighting significantly reduces crime, adding that improved street lighting should be considered as a potential strategy in any crime reduction program in coordination with other intervention strategies, and that depending on the analysis of the crime problem, improved street lighting could often be implemented as a feasible, inexpensive, and effective method of reducing crime.

An earlier (2002) review for the Home Office by the same authors had come to the same conclusions.

REFERENCESFarrington, D and Welsh, B (2008): Effects of improved street lighting on crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews: The Campbell Collaboration


Atkins, S, Husain, S and Storey, A (1991) The influence of street lighting on crime and fear of crime. Crime Prevention Unit Paper Number 28. London: Home Office.


Ramsay, M and Newton, R (1991). The Effect of better street lighting on crime and fear : a review. Crime Prevention Unit Paper Number 29. London: Home Office


Farrington, D and Welsh, C (2002) Effects of improved street lighting on crime: a systematic review. Home Office Research Study 251. London: Home Office. (addendum added 14.10 03)


Government advice on the planning system and crime prevention including general guidance on the importance of surveillance (overlooking) is set out in the ODPM/Home Office guide: Safer Places the Planning System and Crime Prevention (in particular pp 28-29).


"Safer Places" flags that further more detailed advice is available from the police initiative Secured By Design. Details are available from the website:


CCTV and crime

Q1  What is the Government's policy on the use of CCTV to combat crime?

  The origins of CCTV provision for public space in this country lie in the early 1980s. Since then (and mostly by local authorities) the use of public space community safety CCTV has expanded gradually but significantly and it now plays a key role in crime and anti-social behaviour reduction, public protection, missing person inquiries and serious crime, including terrorism investigations. CCTV has been installed for different reasons in different ways.

CCTV does work and works best when it is used alongside a wider strategy of partnership working between the police, local authorities and local communities to tackle crime in their neighbourhood.

Seeking to make sure that the benefits of CCTV are applied effectively to prevent crime and to deal with those who choose to commit crime, the Government's focus is on better training, improved partnership working and more co-ordinated use of technology.

  Recognising the need to strengthen the evidence base and provide strong and compelling narrative on the how well CCTV is working:

    — The National Policing Improvement Agency and Cheshire Constabulary by the end of the year (2009) aim to have completed a qualitative analysis of recorded crime data and case files in Cheshire to determine the value of CCTV to investigations.

    — By next Spring, establish a library of case studies around the use of CCTV in crime detection with particular focus on major crime, including CT and public-space violence; and, in the same time frame.

    — Develop the criteria for assessing the quantitative and qualitative costs and benefits of CCTV. This will enable Government, the police, local authorities and the private sector to assess existing and future investment in CCTV and the contribution that it makes and can make to crime detection, crime reduction and public confidence.

Q2  On what evidence is the Government basing this policy?

  The most recent and most robust assessment of the international evidence on the impact of CCTV was a 2008 systematic review by academics Brandon Welsh and David Farrington, published by the Campbell Crime and Justice Group. The review was part funded by the Home Office. The review found that CCTV has a modest but statistically significant crime reduction effect; is most effective in reducing crime in car parks; is most effective when targeted at vehicle crimes (largely a function of the successful car park schemes); and is more effective in reducing crime in the UK than in other countries. The review concluded that while the results lend support for the continued use of CCTV to prevent crime in public space, they suggest that it be more narrowly targeted than its present use would indicate.

Other research has shown that CCTV can increase public confidence and there are some high profile case study examples of how CCTV has played an important role in detecting crime and protecting the public: for example, in recent terrorist investigations (including 7/7 and 21/7), and the conviction of Steve Wright for the Ipswich murders.

RESEARCH PAPERSCampbell Crime and Justice Group


Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Department: assessing the impact of CCTV, 2005


Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Department: The impact of CCTV: fourteen case studies, 2005


Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Department: Crime prevention effects of closed circuit television: a systematic review, 2002



  This response was provided by the Home Office.

Q1  What is the Government's initial analysis of the Human Provenance Pilot Project and plans for this scheme in the future?

This joint UKBA/SOCA pilot project is aimed at tackling abuse of the asylum system, particularly nationality swapping. The pilot planned to run over three months involves a combination of forensic techniques such as isotopic analysis of hair and nails together and ancestral DNA and will be combined with language analysis and enhanced interviewing to examine whether this can indicate a persons possible origins and recent movements. All testing will be voluntary with the person required to give written consent. During the pilot the data will not be used to support live decision making but rather to examine the viability of the techniques. At the conclusion of this pilot we will review the results, including the underpinning science and the ethical implications of the work. The Forensic Regulator will also be consulted during the period of the 3 month pilot. Only if the evaluation and regulatory review is positive, will UKBA proceed to use the results of future tests to support the decision making process in specific cases.

Another part of this project is aimed at combating child trafficking and child abuse by DNA testing family groups where there is a reasonable suspicion they are not biologically related as claimed. This is in line with new statutory duties to protect vulnerable children. These tests are not subject to the three month review and the results will be used by case owners and the social services.

  The project planned to run to July 2010 depending on ongoing evaluation and future funding.

Q2  What evidence was used to formulate this programme?

  The pilot was based on some preliminary scientific papers in these areas (see attached bibliography) which suggested that a small proof of concept trial was an appropriate next step.



SOMALIASanchez J J, Hallenberg C, B'rsting C, Hernandez A, Morling N (2005) High frequencies of Y chromosome lineages characterized by E3b1, DYS19-11, DYS392-12 in Somali males. Eur. J. Hum. Genet., 13, 856-866. Hallenberg C, Simonsen B, Sanchez J, Morling N (2005) Y-chromosome STR haplotypes in Somalis. Forensic Sci. Int., 151, 317-321.

Jobling M A, Tyler-Smith C (2003) The human chromosome: An evolutionary marker comes of age. Nat. Rev. Genet., 4(8),598-612.

Luis J R, Rowold D J, Regueiro M, Caeiro B, Cinnioglu C, Roseman C, Underhill P A, Cavalli-Sforza L L, Herrera R J (2004) The Levant versus the Horn of Africa: Evidence for Bidirectional Corridors of Human Migrations. Am. J. Hum. Genet., 74, 532-544.

Cruciani F, La Fratta R, Torroni R, Underhill P A, Scozzari R (2006) Molecular dissection of the Y chromosome Haplogroup E-M78 (E3b1a): A posteriori evaluation of a microsatellite-network-based approach through six new biallelic markers. Human Mutation, 27(8), 831-832.


AFRICA Salas A, Richards M, De la Fe T, Lareu M V, Sobrino B, Sánchez-Diz P, Macaulay V, Carracedo A (2002) The Making of the African mtDNA Landscape. Am. J. Hum. Genet., 5, 1082-1111.

KENYA Brandstätter A, Peterson C T, Irwin J A, Mpoke S, Koech D K, Parson W, Parsons T J (2004) Mitochondrial DNA control region sequences from Nairobi (Kenya): inferring phylogenetic parameters for the establishment of a forensic database. Int. J. Legal Med., 118, 294-306.

SNPs Nelis M, Esko T, Ma­gi R, Zimprich F, Zimprich A, Toncheva D, Karachanak S, Piskácková T, Balascák I, Peltonen L, Jakkula E, Rehnstrm K, Lathrop M, Heath S, Galan P, Schreiber S, Meitinger T, Pfeufer A, Wichmann H E, Melegh B, Polgár N, Toniolo D, Gasparini P, D'Adamo P, Klovins J, Nikitina-Zake L, Kucinskas V, Kasnauskiene J, Lubinski J, Debniak T, Limborska S, Khrunin A, Estivill X, Rabionet R, Marsal S, Julia" A, Antonarakis S E, Deutsch S, Borel C, Attar H, Gagnebin M, Macek M, Krawczak M, Remm M, Metspalu A (2009) Genetic Structure of Europeans: A View from the North-East. PLoS One, 4(5), e5472.


  This response was provided by the Department for Transport.

Q1  What is the Government's policy on recommending or requiring the use of bicycle helmets?

The Department for Transport believes it is sensible for cyclists, and especially children, to protect themselves by wearing a cycle helmet. Our road safety publicity materials and the Highway Code recommend the use of a cycle helmet. We have no plans to make their use compulsory.

Q2  What evidence on bicycle helmets and safety has the Government considered in formulating its policy?

A review commissioned by the Department ("Bicycle Helmets—A review of their effectiveness", Road Safety Research Report No 30, available at:- http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme1/bicyclehelmetsreviewofeffect4726) concluded that overall there is evidence that bicycle helmets can be effective at reducing the incidence and severity of head, brain and upper facial injuries and that they can be effective in reducing injury for users of all ages, though particularly for children. The report also concludes that there is some evidence that compulsory helmet wearing may discourage some people from cycling, leading to decreased bicycle use.

However, we believe it would be irresponsible not to promote a product that can reduce injuries and we continue to promote helmet wearing on a voluntary basis, especially by children.

  The Department has commissioned a new research project on cyclists' road safety. This will include a new review of cycle helmet effectiveness. We are aiming to complete the review of cycle helmet effectiveness later this year with the publication of the project's final reports in Autumn 2010.

  We measure cycle helmet wearing rates periodically, in 1994, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006 and most recently 2008. The 2008 wearing rate survey shows that cycle helmet rates on major built up roads have gone up from 30.7% in 2006 to 34.3% and on minor roads have gone up from 13.8% in 2006 to 16.7% in 2008. The wearing rate for children on major built up roads was 17.6% in both 2006 and 2008, while for children on minor roads the rate rose from 9.4% in 2006 to 12.0% in 2008.

  Whilst compulsion remains an option that we will review from time to time, at these levels making helmets compulsory would cause enforcement difficulties and without greater public acceptance could have an effect on levels of cycling.


  This response was provided by the Department for Transport.

Q1  What is the Government's policy on use of speed cameras?

The primary objective for speed camera deployment is to reduce deaths and injuries on roads by reducing the level and severity of speeding. The aim is to do this by preventing, detecting and enforcing speed offences, which includes encouraging changed driver behaviour by the use of safety camera activity.

Safety cameras are deployed and operated locally by road safety partnerships as part of their overall road safety remit. They have the freedom to spend the specific road safety grant on cameras or any other locally agreed road safety measure. The Department for Transport's guidance on the use of cameras recommends they are deployed only where there is a history of speed related accidents or where there is community concern about speeding. Cameras should be coloured yellow and co-located with speed limit signs where permitted and practicable with warning signs placed in advance, so that motorists are easily able to comply with the speed limit. However, the police may also carry out covert speed enforcement.

Q2  What evidence is there that the policy improves road safety?

  Evaluations around the world have shown repeatedly that speed cameras reduce vehicle speeds, accidents, deaths and serious injuries at camera sites. A literature review undertaken by the University of the West of England, published 11 February 2005, failed to find a single published research paper anywhere in the world that found cameras to have negative overall effects.

The independent four-year evaluation report of the National Safety Camera Programme was published on 15 December 2005. It found a 42% reduction in people killed or seriously injured at camera sites across the 38 partnership areas, that means around 1,745 fewer people killed or seriously injured per annum, including over 100 fewer deaths. In addition, there was a 22% reduction in personal injury collisions, which translates into a reduction of 4,230. These evaluations are of the benefits of the cameras over and above the long-term national trend of casualty reductions. However, a proportion of the reduction could be attributable to "regression-to-mean" (this arises because accidents in the period before the installation of a camera may be higher than the long-term average for that location). The report concludes that, even after allowing for this, safety cameras achieve substantial reductions in collisions and casualties.

  Evidence suggests that in addition to motorists slowing down in the immediate vicinity of camera sites, they have also been slowing down in the wider area where speed cameras are located. The Department's annual Vehicle Speeds data shows that the proportion of cars exceeding the speed limit on 30mph roads has reduced from almost three quarters in 1996 to just under half in recent years.


  This response was provided from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with input from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Q1  Does the Government have a stance on Wind Turbine Syndrome?

Wind Turbine Syndrome is a name coined by one researcher in the United States who believes that those living close to wind farms can suffer from a variety of symptoms as a result of their proximity to wind farms. It is unclear whether there is widespread support from other professionals for these effects to be formally described as a syndrome. The cause of these effects seems to be the noise (and perceived vibration) that can be generated by wind turbine units. The Government has no formal stance on WTS, but will review its position as and when new evidence emerges.

Q2  What evidence does the Government consider when assessing the potential health risks of wind turbines to nearby residents?

With regard to noise, the Government has been aware for many years of the potential noise impact from wind turbines. In the mid 90s, it prepared a report through the Energy Technology Support Unit (ETSU) of the former DTi that described how noise from wind farms should be assessed and what noise criteria should be applied. The current Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 22 on renewable energies also makes reference to this document as does the recently published consultation documents setting out the proposed new National Policy Statements for renewable sources. The ETSU report sets out the method by which the government expects developers and planning authorities to take account of the noise impacts and by implication the noise related health effects of wind farms. The Government has also commissioned research to understand further the impacts of noise from wind farms and how they should be assessed. The evidence arising from that research is being reviewed.

The Government is aware of the possibility of other health affects linked to wind turbines, in particular the risk of photo epilepsy arising from "shadow flicker". PPS22 states how to assess and address shadow flicker advising that if the wind turbines are located in accordance with guidance in PPS22 then the risk of shadow flicker should be avoided.

13 November 2009

http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/233/. Retrieved 2008-04-11. "These exercises are being taught with pseudoscientific explanations that undermine science teaching and mislead children about how their bodies work.  ... There have been a few peer reviewed scientific studies into the methods of Brain Gym, but none of them found a significant improvement in general academic skills."

41   Increasing the economic impact of Research Councils (2006). Back

42   Economic Impacts of Investment in Research & Innovation, DIUS (2008). Back

43   Available at http://www.dius.gov.uk//media/publications/F/file35789 Back

44   Available at http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/aboutrcuk/deliveryplan.htm Back

45   Evaluation of the effectiveness and role of HEFCE/OSI Third Stream Funding, PACEC (2009). Back

46   Higher education-business and community interaction (HE-BCI) survey (2009). Back

47   Science Research Investment Fund: a review of Round 2 and wider benefits, Technopolis Group (2009). Back

48   Fourth Annual Survey of Knowledge Transfer Activities in Public Sector Research Establishments, Technopolis (2008). Back

49   The Impact of Research produced by Russell Group Universities, Russell Group (2009). Back

50   Medical Research: What's it worth?, Health Economics Research Group at Brunel University, the Office of Health Economics and RAND Europe (2008). Back

51   The economic impact of fundamental physics research on the UK economy, Oxford Economics (2009). Back

52   "News in brief". The Times. 2008-04-05. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3671213.ece. Retrieved 2008-09-01. "Paul Dennison, a Californian educator who created the programme, admitted that many claims in his teacher's guide were based on his `hunches' and were not proper science." Back

53   Sense About Science-Brain Gym". Sense About Science. Back

54   Hyatt, Keith J. (April 2007). "Brain Gym-Building Stronger Brains or Wishful Thinking?" (fee required). Remedial and Special Education (SAGE Publications) 28 (2): 117-124. ISSN 0741-9325. http://rse.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/28/2/117. Retrieved 2008-09-12. "a review of the theoretical foundations of Brain Gym and the associated peer-reviewed research studies failed to support the contentions of the promoters of Brain Gym. Educators are encouraged to become informed consumers of research and to avoid implementing programming for which there is neither a credible theoretical nor a sound research basis.". Back

55   Brain Gym-about". The Official Brain Gym Web Site. http://www.braingym.org/about. Back

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