Using evidence in government and Parliament
For effective policymaking, it’s crucial that policymakers have easy access to the science that underpins the policies they are working on and scrutinising. The Forum wants to create these relationships."
Professor Nick Jennings
Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise), Imperial College London
Science and evidence have a crucial role in shaping policy that improves people’s lives, yet policymakers often struggle to access and use evidence in a timely and effective way.
That’s why The Forum worked with the renowned think tank Institute for Government (IfG) to explore how evidence can be made more easily available for government to design effective policies and Parliament to hold ministers to account.
The Forum and IfG hosted a discussion on how to improve the role of evidence in policy making in government and Parliament. You can read our news story about the event or watch the full event below.
The panel was formed of:
- Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Select Committee on Science and Technology
- Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Digital
- Tom Sasse, Senior Researcher, Institute for Government
The Forum and IfG also produced a short report on the use of evidence in government and Parliament. Among other things, the report recommended that:
- Government needs better ways to benchmark evidence use
- More clarity is needed over responsibility for evidence use in departments
- Better understanding and communication of risk is necessary to avoid blurring the line between advice and decision-making
- Government and Parliament should reach beyond personal relationships and the ‘usual suspects’ when accessing external evidence
- Select committees could be more proactive in identifying weaknesses in the evidence underlying policy
The Forum and Institute for Government hosted two roundtables prior to the panel discussion to inform the written report.
The first event was held for senior civil servants and featured officials from Defra, Department for Transport, Government Office for Science, Imperial and others to discuss the key barriers for academics trying to engage with policymakers and how civil servants can make sure evidence gets heard by decision-makers.
A second event looked at how MPs can effectively use evidence. It included panelists Sir Norman Lamb (Chair, Science and Technology Committee 2017-2019), Gemma Buckland (Senior Committee Specialist), Dame Diana Johnson MP (Chair, APPG on Haemophilia and Contaminated Blood) and Dr Grant Hill-Cawthorne (Head of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology).