UK Select Committee on Science and Technology does not appropriately scrutinize British science

December 15, 2005

The way in which the UK Select Committee on Science and Technology (CST) conducts inquiries is not an acceptable way to maintain standards in British science, states an editorial in this week's issue of The Lancet.

In a Nov 30 inquiry into the MRC's recent trip to southeast Asia, the CST panel members showed themselves to be ill-informed about use of research in public policy, and to have scant knowledge of the activities of the funding bodies they supposedly monitor. They assailed MRC head Colin Blakemore with questions on financial contributions made by the Department of Health--an organisation unconnected to the MRC. They pressed him for comments on use of incentives for industry to boost vaccine-manufacturing capacity--an issue outside the MRC's research remit.

The Lancet comments: "The fact that the CST needs no rationale for its questions of inquiry partly explains why, as in the MRC hearing, it persists in addressing important questions to the wrong witnesses. What is does not explain, however, is why the Committee's interrogations are considered an acceptable way to maintain standards in British science."
-end-
Contact: The Lancet press office on 0207 424 4949/4249 pressoffice@lancet.com

Lancet

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