The last day of the RS pairing scheme; lots of activities and sessions planned by the Royal Society.
Session 1: Government office for Science
Alan Pitt, deputy director for science capability gave a talk on how Parliament deals with scientific issues within policy. He discussed the mechanisms of engagement with MPs and how to effectively communicate in order to inform policy. The notion of the three different lenses was discussed. This consists of of ‘Politics’, ‘Evidence’ and ‘ Delivery’. Whilst some policies might seem obvious to a scientist; for example, the higher taxing of diesel vehicles’, politically it is more complex and so this multi lensed approach needs to be used to form coherent and logical policies that are accepted by the wider public. This was something I had not thought about before. Being a scientist we get filtered down one route that is focused purely on the best scientific gains. One point that was stressed by Jon Elliot (head of science advice and leadership, Government office) was the need to have access to high quality evidence because this is what leads to better policy.
Session 2: Evidence and Impact
Stephen Berett, Government officer, discussed the need to think about long term issues to feed into wider policy making and the policy interface. Policy is not just about the here and now, and must be thought of within a longer term context. He also discussed the notion of data representation for ease of use and accessibility.
Session 3: How science informs our response to emergencies
Jack Wardle and Colin Armstrong, both from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) presented an excellent session on how emergencies are dealt with at a government level and how they use science to inform their decision making. We ran a mock virus outbreak scenario going through the various stages of information capture, risk assessment, containment and decision making to highlight the issues both the science community and government need to be able to deal with.
Session 4: Wrap up
The final session of the Royal Society Pairing Scheme with the excellent Rachael Mann and Rebecca Purvis! A brief round up session discussing what we had got out of the paired scheme. For me, this has been an excellent 4 days, where I have begun to learn about the complex mechanism of Parliament and how I can in future look to inform policy. I would definitely recommend the RS Pairing Scheme to others!
It is a good bye to the Houses of Parliament and the hustle and bustle of Westminster. I hope to be back very soon!
The 3rd day of the RS pairing scheme involved an exciting set of activities. In the morning I attended my first select committee meeting which was discussing the theme of ‘Post 16 Education’. I have often seen these select committees on TV and was always curious to observe how they operated. This allowed me a first hand view of the procedures and processes. It was interesting to observe the general openness in which questions were asked. It highlighted, to me the significant burgeoning issues of post 16 education, in particular the lack of funding and choices currently available. I will be aiming to attend more of these sessions in the future!
In the afternoon I attended an event for the Goldies singing group. A brilliant example of how communities work together to help each other! The Goldies are a charity specifically set up to help elderly people with learning difficulties, dementia and who are sometimes socially isolated. Ben Howlett invited the Goldies to Parliament in recognition of their services to the community and to launch their new song.
Towards the end of the day I was able to pay a quick visit to the top of the Houses of Parliament!
An excellent third day in the Houses of Parliament!
I arrived at Portcullis house to start my day of shadowing MP Ben Howlett, with the first meeting with Renewable UK and the discussion of offshore windfarms.
This was followed by a reception for British historical preservation in the House of Lords, where the critical role preservation plays in society, both economically and socially was championed and presented.
In the evening I attended an excellent discussion at the Royal Society on the topic of inequality: reducing global inequality – how can we achieve a fairer world. This was led by a panel of experts discussing the global issues of inequality and how we as a society should tackle it. The panel consisted of experts from charities through to foundations.
Morning meeting with the Chief Executive for Renewables UK, Hugh McNeal
Royal Society Panel discussion on ‘Inequalities’
My week in Parliament began with a tour of the ancient seat of British power. It was interesting to learn about the various and often complex processes and mechanisms of how the system works and functions. The afternoon session consisted of talks and discussions on how Parliament functions (from the simple day to day tasks, ping-ponging of bill documents between the two houses through to the use of Norman French for when the monarch agrees a bill!) and how different scientific bodies can provide information for policy making. It was interesting to talk to some of these bodies on their individual topics and in particular, the growing importance of machine learning and big data.
As part of the scheme I have been paired with the MP for Bath, Ben Howlett, who I will be shadowing for the duration of my time in Parliament.
It will be interesting to see what a day in politics consists of!
We were getting fed up with the poor and often random printing quality and capabilities of our current technologies and so we decided to invest in something new…
An Ultimaker 3D printer! So far the printing quality has been amazing and it is enabling us to generate a wide variety of unusual geometries.
An excellent EPSRC early career forum in manufacturing research meeting at the University of Sheffield. Lots of energy, ideas and collaborations! It is rather amazing what can be achieved when you get a bunch of like minded academics in the same room, spanning across multiple disciplines (I am the designated ‘metal-basher’ in the corner!). Next meeting – University of Bath.