The first #policylates event at Charles Darwin House is only a few weeks away, where panellists will be discussing whether we need more people with STEM backgrounds in Parliament. The issue has already generated some discussion on the Psci-Com mailing list, and various debates in Parliament have touched upon the issue.
In a debate on cuts to the House of Commons’ operational costs on the 8th November, Adam Afriyie MP argued against cuts to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) of which he is chair. Supporting Afriyie’s defence of POST, Andrew Miller MP (chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee) noted the importance of scientific advice in Parliament:
“There are hugely important challenges that none of us, whatever our backgrounds, are properly equipped to deal with. Even if one was, in a previous life, working in a STEM background, one inevitably falls behind when one spends any time in here.”
Miller also drew attention to a meeting of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee which is to be held on the 27th November, just two days before the #policylates debate. The meeting will bring in experts to address the issue of ash dieback in the UK, a significant growing problem. On the 29th itself, the Lords will be discussing the contribution of nuclear power to UK energy policy and the transposition of EU Directive 2010/63 into UK law, which relates to the welfare of animals used in scientific research.
With so many fundamentally scientific issues being debated in both Houses, it’s easy to see why some people are concerned by the lack of STEM-trained Parliamentarians. Although registration for the #policylates debate is now full, anyone who was unable to get a ticket can still share their views in the comments below and vote in the poll. You can also discuss the issue using the #policylates hashtag on Twitter, and the Twitter handles of the organisers and panellists are listed below. We will be live tweeting during the event (7pm on 29th November).
Society of Biology (@Society_Biology) and Haralambos Dayantis (@HCDayantis), co-organisers
Dr Jennifer Rohn (@JennyRohn) and Dr Phillip Lee MP (@DrPhillipLeeMP), who argue for the motion that we need more STEM-trained Parliamentarians
Dr Evan Harris (@DrEvanHarris) and Dr Jack Stilgoe (@JackStilgoe), who argue against the motion