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Chemical engineering chief backs calls for science committee

18 June 2009

IChemE chief executive, David Brown is backing calls for the re-establishment of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology committee.
The committee was abolished in 2007 when a government reshuffle created the department for innovation, universities, and skills (IUS). Another reshuffle earlier this month absorbed IUS into the department for business, enterprise and regulatory reform (BERR), creating a new super department called the department for business, innovation and skills (BIS).

IChemE chief executive, David Brown
IChemE chief executive, David Brown

This prompted concerns from MP Phil Willis, chairman of the soon-to-be defunct innovation, universities, science and skills committee, which issued a report saying that the new department’s wide-ranging remit will leave science “lost in a black hole” leading to calls to reform the original committee to ensure proper scrutiny of science policy.

Brown said he supports the proposal for a science, engineering and technology committee: “It’s important that engineering is seen as complimentary though different from science, but also that the science and engineering communities work together in support of economic recovery and economic growth.”
Brown’s comments follow a letter, signed by the heads of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Biology, and Institute of Physics, which read: “The creation of BIS which encompasses science and engineering, paradoxically, threatens the ability of the House of Commons to discuss these highly important policy areas. The new department is so large that no single BIS select committee could reasonably be expected effectively to hold it to account across all its very wide ranging responsibilities.

“Science and engineering would effectively disappear from view despite its intrinsic importance and its crucial role in enabling the UK to emerge from the current recession.”

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