Read the Green Party Leader's response to CaSE's letter, setting out the party's commitments that are relevant to the science and engineering sector ahead of the 2015 Election.
In the run-up to the 2015 UK General Election, CaSE has written to the leader of every political partywith at least one MP in Westminster, sending them our election briefings and asking them to set out their manifesto commitments that are relevant to the science and engineering sector.
Below is the response from the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett
As a science graduate (Agricultural Science, Sydney, 1987), I have a personal interest in science policy.
The Green Party wants to double public spending on research over the next 10 years, reaching 1% of GDP, (the level reached or neared by South Korea, the US and France), with a focus on adequately funded basic research. The Green Party is also committed to a particular focus on research on major environmental issues such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. Funding would follow the Haldane principle, with the Government guiding overall strategic direction, but researchers making the decision on projects to be funded.
In keeping with the CaSE recommendations for Priority Actions, we would ensure the results of all publicly funded research, including clinical trials, were publically available, encouraging, and where necessarily financially supporting, publication in open access journals. All research carried out at universities, even if privately funded, would be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. And we will work to ensure that libel laws cannot be used to stifle scientific debate or academic freedom.
To support the pool of people to drive scientific success, we would remove undergraduate tuition fees, and reintroduce student grants, helping students to focus on their studies and develop their careers without the heavy weight of debt influencing their career choices.
On immigration, we are opposed to the artificial, arbitrary cap on immigration, supporting a controlled but fair and humane system. We are opposed to the discriminatory and often hostile treatment being encountered by non-EU postgraduate students, and would restore the post-study work visa that allowed postgraduates to seek work in the UK for two years. We would also ensure that visas and immigration rules did not prevent or obstruct the employment of non-EU academics and experts required by science, engineering and other businesses.
Our policy would be supportive of non-standard career structures, aiming to ensure that training and expertise is maintained and utilised, particularly focusing on the current “leaky pipeline” that sees women lost from careers in STEM subjects. I support mandatory bias training for all members of grant-awarding boards and panels across all Research Councils.
For schools, we are committed to reducing the complexity and competitive structure of free schools and academies, bringing these back under local authority control, with a stable, cooperative structure that aims for the best result for each pupil and enables a diverse, creative curriculum with a strong scientific and practical component.
The Green Party is committed to evidence-based policymaking in government, and I support the maintenance of the post with ministerial responsibility for science and engineering policy in the Cabinet. For example, we are committed to supporting expert advice on treating illegal drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. We are strongly committed to providing on the NHS only those treatments and preventative health measures which have been independently tested using the best available clinical evidence. We have also opposed the unscientific (and inhumane) badger cull.
We are committed to ensuring that scientific advisors (with an independent chief scientific adviser attached to each relevant department) work in an environment of academic freedom and are able to make recommendations without political interference or fear of dismissal. And we are committed to publishing all submissions to government enquiries.
We strongly support the development of renewable energy technologies and their roll out, want to see much increased research and extension work on ecologically sustainable agriculture, and seek research and engineering solutions in all areas of energy efficiency and transport.