Today the Liberal Democrats published their election manifesto – Change that works for you.
The following are extracts from the manifesto relevant to research, innovation, education and scientific advice.
In the current economic climate it is not possible to commit to growth in spending, but Liberal Democrats recognise the importance of science investment to the recovery and to the reshaping of the economy, making it less reliant on the City of London and creating new green industries instead.
Creating a dynamic environment for science and innovation
- Respect the convention that the science budget, once allocated through the Comprehensive Spending Review process, is not used for other purposes.
- Ensure that the decisions on the funding of research projects are made on the basis of peer review not Whitehall interference, while recognising the need for government to identify broad strategic priorities in a transparent manner.
- Ensure that all state-funded research, including clinical trials, is publicly accessible and that the results are published and subject to peer review.
- Reform science funding to ensure that genuinely innovative scientific research is identified and supported, instead of basing funding decisions on narrow impact factors.
- Tackle the gender gap at all levels of scientific study and research to help increase the supply of scientists.
- Safeguard academic freedom and the independence of scientific advisers by amending the Ministerial Code to prevent government from bullying or mistreating advisers and distorting evidence or statistics.
The best chance for every child
- We will seek to ensure that science at Key Stage 4 and above is taught by appropriately qualified teachers.
A better education: standards and the curriculum
- Give 14–19 year-olds the right to take up a course at college, rather than at school, if it suits them better. This will enable all children to choose to study, for example, separate sciences or modern languages at GCSE, or a vocational subject.
Opportunities at college and university
- Reform current bursary schemes to create a National Bursary Scheme for students, so that each university gets a bursary budget suited to the needs of its students. These bursaries would be awarded both on the basis of studying strategic subjects (such as sciences and mathematics) and financial hardship.
Protecting and improving our NHS
- Prioritise dementia research within the health research and development budget.
Practical steps to make you safer
- Always base drugs policy on independent scientific advice, including making the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs completely independent of government.
Restoring Your Freedoms:
- Protect free speech, investigative journalism and academic peer reviewed publishing through reform of the English and Welsh libel laws – including by requiring corporations to show damage and prove malice or recklessness, and by providing a robust responsible journalism defence.