Response to UK Government backdown on research grants

Posted on 2 Dec 2016 in

Responding to the announcement today (Friday 2 December 2016) by the Cabinet Office that its new regulations for Government grants will not prevent researchers from informing policy-making, Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“I am glad that the Government has backed down over its threat to prevent researchers from using Government grants to inform policy-making. The original proposal, published without adequate consultation in February, was poorly conceived. There were many within the academic community who recognised that the draconian new rules would have effectively gagged researchers, damaging both academic freedom and the public interest. I am glad that after lobbying by the academic community, including my petition with more than 30,000 signatures (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/122957), the Cabinet Office is planning to put in place far more sensible rules. However, there should now also be an inquiry into why the Cabinet Office originally put forward a bad set of regulations in response to lobbying by the Institute of Economic Affairs. It is a secretive campaign group which does not disclose its sources of funding and promotes an extreme ideology. Its campaign pamphlet, on which the Cabinet Office acted, constituted an attack on any organisation that disagreed with the IEA and was advising the Government, for instance, to introduce stronger regulations on alcohol or tobacco in order to improve public health. I hope that the Cabinet Office will take advantage of the new regulations to ensure future decisions are based on rigorous research from the UK’s world class universities, rather than on campaign leaflets from lobby groups.”

For more information about this media release, please contact Bob Ward r.e.ward@lse.ac.uk

NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (https://www.cccep.ac.uk/) is hosted by the University of Leeds and the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (http://www.esrc.ac.uk/). The Centre’s mission is to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research.