February 2018 Meeting: Dr Nath

Why Science matters to Parliament

Members of Parliament frequently have to debate, and take decisions on, complex issues such as: How do we prevent the next pandemic?; Are grammar schools effective?; What will climate change mean for the UK? These are just a few of the questions that arise in Parliament as it conducts its core functions of scrutinising the government, and debating legislation and matters of public interest. Members of Parliament cannot be experts on everything and few come from a research background. So they rely on a network of advisers across Parliament as well as outside it to make sure they get the information they need when they need it. In this talk Dr Nath will outline how this network operates and look at the specific role of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, which promotes informed parliamentary debate by providing Members with peer-reviewed scientific analyses of topical issues. Dr Nath will present the results of their recently published study into the role of research in the UK Parliament, which highlights the fact that people within Parliament have a very broad understanding of ‘research’ and do not necessarily distinguish academic research produced in a rigorous, systematic manner from research generated in other ways. Dr Nath will discuss some of the barriers to research being used effectively within Parliament and how they might be overcome.

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