Science and the General Election 2010

The only pre-election science debate to be held in parliament took place on 9 March organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry with the support of the Society of Biology, among other learned societies, and facilitated by the Science and Technology Committee. This was a great example of the value of unified action to highlight the specific value and needs of science research and education. The BES Science Policy Team attended the evening event.

Lord Drayson (Labour), Dr Adam Afriyie MP (Conservative) and Dr Evan Harris MP (Liberal Democrat) outlined their policies for science if successful in the forthcoming elections. In a long and lively question time all three candidates answered questions on funding and regulation of science; the balance between basic and applied research; the research excellence framework (REF); the balance between ‘glamorous’ and ‘Cinderella’ topics; the role of government in directing research calls; international exemplars of good funding practice, and whether the role of MPs is to respond to or actively lead public opinion of emerging science issues. There was agreement on a small number of topics including the importance of preserving the Haldane Principle and the need for a Chief Scientific Adviser to the Treasury, the only major government department currently lacking a CSA.

The RSC is hosting a video webcast at and there was an active Twitter debate using the hashtag #scidebate.