31 March 2010
MPS HIGHLIGHT THE NEED FOR PROPER SCIENCE SCRUTINY TO CONTINUE IN THE NEXT PARLIAMENT
The Science and Technology Committee has today called for MPs in the next Parliament to be given the right to maintain a proper oversight of the Government's use of science.
Science, engineering and technology are key to solving many of today's problems and having a committee of elected Members who can bring together cross party expertise on such matters is of vital importance if Parliament is to be effective in holding the Government to account on these issues.
In their latest report, the last from the Committee before the general election, MPs point out that much important, and sometimes controversial, pieces of legislation have benefited from having a cross-party science select committee that can collect and report on scientific evidence.
Phil Willis MP, Committee Chair, said:
"Our legacy report highlights some of the key areas over the last few decades where huge value has been added to the legislative processsuch as on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Actby having an 'in-house' committee of MPs who can consider scientific matters.
"It is crucial that there is an effective science committee in the new Parliament that ensures MPs properly scrutinise the Government's use of science."
The Committee has examined the various types of scientific oversight employed by Parliament since the first science committee was formed in the 1960s and strongly argues that a 'freestanding' science committee, that is one not tied to a single Whitehall Department, is the only effective means of ensuring the broad range of science issues is properly covered.
The current Science and Technology Committee has also pioneered new ways of conducting select committee business, such as collecting evidence via video link from various countries, using social networking sites to engage with the public and holding parallel inquiries with its counterpart committee in the US House of Representatives.