UK scientists join politicians for Royal Society Pairing Scheme

08 March 2021

Scientists will experience the world of policy and politics when they take part in a virtual week in Westminster as part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.

Now in its 21st year, the scheme pairs scientists with parliamentarians and civil servants so that they can learn about each other’s worlds and explore how research findings can inform policy making.

Parliamentarians participating this year include Agriculture Minister Victoria Prentis, Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray MP, and chair of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, Lord Patel.

Scientists taking part are drawn from universities across the UK and industry. 

During this year’s virtual program, the scientists will attend Q&As with the Science Minister Amanda Solloway, the Shadow Science Minister Chi Onwurah, and Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Greg Clark. They will also switch places with politicians and take part in a mock select committee session.

This will provide the scientists with a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how they can share their expertise with policy makers. It will offer parliamentarians and civil servants the opportunity to investigate the science behind their decisions and enhance their access to scientific evidence.

The week will close with a parliamentary roundtable chaired by Royal Society Vice President Linda Partridge on the role research and innovation can play in levelling-up the UK’s nations and regions. 

The Royal Society’s pairing scheme, which started in 2001, aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and leading scientists in the UK. After the virtual week in Westminster the scheme will continue as parliamentarians and civil servants meet again virtually.

 Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, says, “The Royal Society Pairing Scheme equips scientists with an insight into the workings of parliament, helping them to approach and engage with decision makers.

“While the scheme is in its 21st year, it is a year in which the importance of science advice has never been more evident as science takes centre stage in helping to inform the decisions politicians are taking as we emerge from the COVID pandemic. 

“Science and technology have a vital role to play at the heart of informed policy making, and we should continue to build on what we have learnt during the pandemic to inform decisions on other pressing matters of our time.”