Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 16:36 UK

Science policy scrutiny 'at risk'

Phil Willis MP
MP Phil Willis said science policy needed to be scrutinised

Scrutiny of science policy is at risk, say MPs who have urged the government to establish a House of Commons science and technology committee.

The warning comes in a report by the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee (IUSS).

With science and business merged into the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, "science could be lost in a black hole", they say.

They want the science committee, which was abolished in 2007, re-established.

The Science and Technology Committee was discontinued with the creation of the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills.

This recent merger appears to be the final straw for IUSS committee MPs, who fear that science could disappear in what committee chairman Phil Willis MP called the "all-encompassing 'super department' of Business, Innovation and Skills".

Mr Willis said that the "desire to exploit the UK's world-class science base in order to contribute to economic recovery" was "commendable, valid and not in dispute".

But, he added, "establishing a science and technology select committee is critical both to reassure the science community that proper examination of science and engineering across government remains a priority, and to ensure MPs have an effective and transparent arena in which to hold the government's science policy to account".

The Campaign for Science & Engineering (Case) welcomed the IUSS report.

Nick Dusic, Case's director, said: "The abolition of the Science and Technology Committee was a mistake that the government should rectify.

"Letting parliament re-establish the Science and Technology Committee would show that it is handing power back to the House of Commons.

"Incorporating science scrutiny within a business, innovation and skills committee would severely limit both the scope and frequency of inquiries on science and engineering issues within government."



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