Future programme: ‘My Science Inquiry’ Contents

Open call for proposals: ‘My Science Inquiry’

1.During this Parliament we have sought to widen our external engagement with the public as well as the experts and institutions who are usually involved as witnesses to our inquiries. Previously we initiated an ‘evidence check’ process which invited comments on the evidence behind various Government policies through an online forum.1 We also held an inquiry into Science communication, and this prompted us to reinforce our own strategy for public engagement.2

2.In December 2016 we launched the ‘My Science Inquiry’ process, which invited the public to suggest potential inquiries for our future work programme. This process built on the Subjects for scrutiny: have your say exercise undertaken by our predecessor Committee in 20093 and provided an opportunity for the science and technology community and the general public to alert us to topics deserving greater parliamentary scrutiny.

3.We asked submitters to describe, in 200 words or a short video, the nature of the issue that might be explored, why it deserved attention, and how Government policy in the area could be developed or improved. The responses were numerous, of excellent quality and covered a broad range of potential subjects, spanning both ‘policy for science’ and ‘science for policy’. We received 78 written and video submissions,4 all of which are available on our website.

4.We shortlisted nine submissions on the basis of the potential of the subject matter, and invited those submitters to deliver a 10-minute ‘pitch’ to us, in public, on 1 February 2017. We published the transcript as formal evidence, so that their words could reach a wider audience beyond the Committee, and be entered into the permanent parliamentary record.

5.We have selected two of the ‘My Science Inquiry’ pitches as the basis for new inquiries. In the first instance, we will launch an inquiry into Algorithms in decision-making. Later this year we will launch an inquiry into Hydrogen and fuel cells.

6.We also intend to make use of the ideas pitched to us through other aspects of our work and liaison with other Committees:

7.In addition, two of the original written submissions, from Jack Neville7 and Sarah Jakes,8 addressed issues around the increasing use of e-cigarettes. We have considered in the past whether to undertake an inquiry in this area. We have decided that the time is right to hold an inquiry into e-cigarettes. We will be calling for written evidence in due course.

8.We are grateful for all the written and video submissions we received, and will seek to incorporate the ideas contained in them in our work where possible. We have also sent details of all of the submissions to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology for possible use in their briefing papers for parliamentarians.

1 For details of the ‘evidence check’ approach see Science and Technology Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2016–17, Evidence check: Smart metering of electricity and gas, HC 161

2 Science and Technology Committee, ‘Science communication inquiry, accessed 16 February 2017

3 Science and Technology Committee, First Report of Session 2009–10, The Work of the Committee 2008–09, HC 103, para 46–48

4 See Annex.

5 Department of Health and Social Security, Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology, Cm 9384, July 1984,

6 Letter to Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, regarding Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers and the GCSA, 9 February 2017

7 Jack Neville (MSI 25)

8 Sarah Jakes (MSI 51)

24 February 2017