The Role of Research in the UK Parliament

30 Nov 2017, 8:30 - 10:30

Terrace Pavilion, House of Commons, Palace of Westminster

Tel: 020 7219 8377
Newton's Pendulum

How do different types of policy-makers understand and use research across the UK Parliament, and what are the key routes through which research actually gets in?

This event launches a new report into how research is conceived and used within the UK Parliament. It is based on a two-year study into how different people understand and use research across parliament, and the key routes with which research gets into it. It is based on a partnership between the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and UCL’s Department for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Public Policy (STEaPP).

The importance of having rigorous research evidence inform public decision-making is now widely accepted. While much is known about the use and influence of research evidence in some institutional and topical contexts, the specific arena of legislatures has tended to be overlooked.

Effective scrutiny is one of the critical measures for a well-functioning Parliament. When it works well it can be incredibly powerful - shining a light on areas of government action or inaction; raising wider awareness of issues; and encouraging engagement in the political process. Scrutiny can amount to asking the right questions of the right people, but a critical element of this is equipping Members with the right information to be able to do so. Given the wide variety of matters on which they are expected to pronounce, debate, scrutinise, and legislate, parliamentarians require effective, timely and impartial support. Levering in robust research and relevant academic expertise can equip MPs, Peers, and their support staff, with the right information for these roles.

We also know that academics want to engage with parliament. The UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) has created incentives for academics to demonstrate the relevance and impact of their work on policy, society or the economy. 20% of all impact case studies submitted in the last Ref (1,282 in total) outlined a substantive engagement with Parliament. Yet despite growing interest, there is little understanding as to what types of research is used within parliament, the ways that it feeds into parliamentary processes and the factors shaping this use.

  • Introduction from Professor Tony McEnery, Director of Research, Economic and Social Research Council
  • Keynote speech from Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive, UKRI
  • Report findings from lead author Dr Caroline Kenny, Head of Social Sciences, POST
  • Discussion with The Rt Hon. The Lord David Willets
  • Further speakers will be confirmed.

The event is free and open to MPs, Peers, Parliamentary staff, and interested members of the public, but Eventbrite registration is required for entry.

Breakfast will be provided.

Photo: ccpixs.com / CC BY