Backbench Business — House of Commons Administration and Savings Programme

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:02 pm on 8th November 2012.

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Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 2:02 pm, 8th November 2012

I could happily have a debate with the hon. Gentleman about whether flat cash is a cut or not, but in the spirit of working together on a collegiate basis on this matter, I am happy to agree with the point he makes.

All parties in this House regard the science base of the nation as critical to our success in the future. It therefore behoves us to have a better understanding of science. If we do not find better ways of engaging with the science, engineering and maths community, we will be doing ourselves a massive disservice. There are some fantastic schemes. The Royal Society pairing scheme got a good airing on the radio last week. A number of projects are run by a wide range of all-party groups to help to inform parliamentarians. For example, the next meeting of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, on 27 November at 3 pm, will bring experts into the House to address the issue of ash dieback. Members should put it in their diaries, because that problem will be much wider spread than it is now.

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, inevitably one falls behind the times when one spends any time in here. I urge the House to take the matter seriously. I invite colleagues to support the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Windsor, and adopt what is a very important report.