The Department for Business, Innovation and Science (BIS) have confirmed their intention to exclude core research funders from the new anti-lobbying clause in government grants.
In a response to questions in the House of Lords on the clause yesterday, the Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP commented on the UK Government’s anti-lobbying clause, proposed in February, saying: “I am happy to confirm that it is not our intention for the Research Councils, the Higher Education Funding Council for England or the National Academies to be covered by the clause.”
The clause, which will come into effect on 1st May, bans organizations receiving government grants from using taxpayer funds to lobby Parliament. However, it does not prevent organizations from using privately-raised funds for this purpose.
Since the announcement of the proposed clause, there has been concern in the research community that it could undermine the very purpose of public funding for research, by preventing the timely use of the emerging evidence to inform and influence government policy.
To address this, along with several other life science societies, the Biochemical Society co-signed a letter to the Cabinet Office written by the Royal Society of Biology, which was sent early in March.
Commenting on yesterday’s announcement by Jo Johnson, Professor Steve Busby, Chair of the Executive Committee, Biochemical Society, said:
“We welcome the exemption from the lobbying clause for researchers, which will help to protect their academic freedom and encourage their continuing collaboration with Parliament. It is vital to ensure that scientists are able to use their findings to support evidence-based policy making and to enable informed discussions around key issues, especially relating to life science”.
You can read more about the RSB's work in this area on their website.