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(From the "Sense about Science" website  http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/421  )   At the bottom of the page we read: " If you are a scientist with any form of experience of giving advice to the Government and would like to join in endorsing these principles, you can click here to do so electronically")

 

The following Statement of Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice would enhance confidence in the scientific advisory system and help Government secure essential advice.

  1. Academic Freedom
    • Becoming a member of an independent advisory committee does not reduce the freedom of an adviser to communicate publicly, whether via scholarly publishing and conferences, through the general media or to parliament, subject to the restrictions in existing Codes of Practice, notably:

      • respecting confidentiality
      • not claiming to speak for the Government, and
      • making clear whether they are communicating on behalf of their committees
  2. Independence of Operation
    • Independent scientific advisory bodies are protected from political and other interference in their work
    • In the context of independent scientific advice, disagreement with Government policy and the public articulation and discussion of relevant evidence and issues by members of advisory committees cannot be grounds for criticism or dismissal
    • Advisory committees need the service of an independent press office
  3. Proper Consideration of Advice
    • Reports will normally be published and will not be criticised or rejected prior to publication
    • If the Government is minded to reject a recommendation, the relevant scientific advisory committee will normally be invited to comment privately before a final decision is made
    • It is recognised that some policy decisions are contingent on factors other than the scientific evidence, but when expert scientific advice is rejected the reasons should be described explicitly and publicly
    • The advice of expert committees does not cease to be valid merely because it is rejected or not reflected in policy-making

We ask the Government to affirm its support for these principles.

(See the "Sense about Science" website  http://www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/421 for the names of the individual scientists who have endorsed the principles set out above - and are continuing to do so..)