Select Committee on Science and Technology

No.18 of Session 2005-06 19 January 2006

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE COMMISSIONS RESEARCH ON CANNABIS FOR INQUIRY INTO GOVERNMENT USE OF EVIDENCE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF  POLICY.

The Science and Technology Committee has commissioned its own research to help it investigate and evaluate the way the Government uses scientific evidence to develop it's policy on illegal drugs.

Chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee Phil Willis said: "It is crucial that the committee examines the background to classification so that the public can be assured decisions are being made based on the best possible scientific evidence rather than political expediency."

The research is part of a larger inquiry by the Committee into the way the Government obtains and uses scientific advice in the development of policy. The research will look at drugs in all three classifications. For Class A it will investigate cocaine, magic mushrooms and ecstasy, In Class B it will investigate amphetamines. In Class C it will investigate cannabis.

The Committee hopes this research will help answer the question: is Government policy firmly based on evidence?

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE, RISK AND EVIDENCE: HOW THE GOVERNMENT HANDLES THEM.

Terms of Reference

The inquiry will focus upon the mechanisms in place for the use of scientific advice (including the social sciences) and the way in which the guidelines governing the use of such advice is being applied in practice across Government. It will test the extent to which policies are "evidence-based".

The Committee will carry out this inquiry by addressing the questions below in a series of case studies.

The first three case studies to be addressed are:

1. The technologies supporting the Government's proposals for identity cards

2. The classification of illegal drugs

3. The use of MRI equipment: the EU Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive

In each case, the Committee will be addressing the process of policy development rather than the actual merits of the policies.

The first evidence session for this inquiry will take place on February 15.

The Committee plans to hold an evidence session on drugs on March 1st.

For more information contact: Select committee media officer Laura Kibby Tel: 0207 219 0718.

  Membership of the Committee

Mr Phil Willis (Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman)
Adam Afriyie (Con, Windsor)
Mr Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Dr Ian Gibson (Lab, Norwich North)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Margaret Moran (Lab, Luton South)
Mr Brooks Newmark (Con, Braintree)
Anne Snelgrove (Lab/Co-op, South Swindon)
Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)