Scientific Advisory Committees

House of Lords written question – answered on 24th November 2010.

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Photo of Lord Willis of Knaresborough Lord Willis of Knaresborough Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the independent scientific advisory committees currently offering advice to government departments, with an explanation of their function in each case.

To ask Her Majesty's Government which of the current independent scientific advisory committees are to be removed following their review of non-departmental public bodies.

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assurance they will offer to the independent scientific advisory committees that their advice when offered will be considered and acted upon.

Photo of Baroness Wilcox Baroness Wilcox The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Government are committed to taking decisions based on the best possible scientific evidence and advice. They value greatly the contributions made by hundreds of scientists, usually unpaid, to that process.

Published in March 2010, the Principles for Scientific Advice to Government are clear that Government should properly consider advice from independent scientific advisers, and not prejudge or reject it before its publication. These principles are now explicitly referred to in the Ministerial Code.

Scientific advice is an important factor that Government take into account in developing policy but it cannot exclude all other considerations.

Scientific advisory committees currently advising the Government are listed below. Also provided are sources of information on or explanations of their function, and the descriptor of any proposed reform. I will place a copy of this table in the Library of the House.

It remains the case that all scientific advisory committees, whether advisory NDPBs or committees of experts, will be set up, be recruited to and provide independent advice in line with the Government's Principles for Scientific Advice and the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees.

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