BSI weekly Policy and Public Affairs update
June 26th – June 30th
Parliamentary Links Day 2017
On Tuesday, the Royal Society of Biology hosted Parliamentary Links Day at Portcullis House in Westminster, the largest annual science event in Parliament and an occasion designed to forge closer links between science and Westminster.
This year’s theme was ‘UK Science and Global Opportunities’, focusing on the position of UK science in Europe and globally.
Speakers included Sir John Kingman, Chair Designate of UK Research and Innovation, which is the new body sitting above the seven research councils created following implementation of the Higher Education and Research Act. Sir John described the objectives for his organisation, which include providing strategic oversight on research activities, encouraging interdisciplinary science, and providing enhanced accountability to Parliament on public investment in science.
Sir John was followed by the science minister, Jo Johnson MP. Johnson focused on the challenges facing the scientific community, including historical underinvestment, challenges in commercializing innovation, and the need to spread scientific excellence across the UK and not just in a few highly concentrated areas. On Brexit, Mr Johnson acknowledged the difficulties posed by our leaving the EU. The minister used the event to announce that the Government would be continuing to fund its share of Europe’s flagship UK-based nuclear fusion research facility, JET (Joint European Torus), something which he said was indicative of the UK Government’s commitment to joint European science programmes.
Parliamentary update: Ministerial portfolios
The Department of Health has published information on its Ministerial portfolios. Steve Brine is appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and will oversee public health, with responsibility for issues including vaccination and screening.
The Conservative Peer Lord O’Shaughnessy continues his ministerial role at the Department of Health, with a brief that covers the impacts of Brexit on the health service as well as clinical research and life sciences innovation. His role will therefore see him take forward aspects of the industrial strategy that relate to the life sciences industry, with the publication of a sector deal for the life sciences industry expected later this year.
You can read what we want to see from a new Life Sciences industrial strategy here.
NICE guidelines for free flu vaccine
NICE is calling for eligible people to be offered the flu jab at every opportunity, including GP consultations, health visits, or during a stay in hospital.
Those currently at highest risk and eligible for free flu vaccine on the NHS include, elderly, very young children, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions or a compromised immune system.
The new draft guidelines published this week by also recommends greater education for people around who is eligible, how flu is transmitted, and the benefits of receiving the vaccine.
Government publishes proposals on rights of EU citizens in the UK
On Monday the Government published a policy paper outlining its position on EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU after Brexit.
The recommendations state that all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for at least 5 years will be eligible for ‘settled status’, with the same residency and rights as British nationals.
Those who arrived before a not yet specified cut-off date (after 29 March 2017) will be entitled to stay until they reach the 5-year threshold, when they can apply for ‘settled status’.
Those who have not been in the UK for 5 years but arrived after the cut-off date will be granted a “grace period” of 2 years to apply for residency or return to their EU home nations.
The Institute for Government has useful information on its website comparing the UK and EU positions on citizen’s rights and where the two sides differ on their proposals.