S&T Committee (Commons): Scientific advice, risk and evidence

01 January 2006


In January 2006 the Royal Society submitted evidence to the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee inquiry on scientific advice, risk and evidence.

The key points in the submission are as follows:

Where departmental Chief Scientific Advisers have been appointed at a senior level from outside Government this has led to an improvement in the use of science across Departments and has assisted in the development of a clear strategy for science.

We are aware that the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee is seeking ideas for case studies for the management of cross-departmental science advice. We suggest that the Select Committee investigates the key issues of energy supply and climate change as future case studies.

For nearly all the critical decisions facing Government, the evidence base is often not as large as one would like. In such cases a judgement has to be taken about whether further research should be commissioned before a decision is taken, or if decisions should be made based on the available knowledge. As the case of climate change demonstrates, incomplete evidence should not be used as an excuse for inaction.