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Research to be excluded from anti-lobbying clause

Published: 26 Apr 2016 in Society news

The Department of Business, Innovation & Skills has announced its intention to exclude core research funders from the new anti-lobbying clause in government grants.

Last week, Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP, responded to the statement in the House of Lords on the clause in government grants:

"I am happy to confirm that it is not our intention for the Research Councils, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) or the National Academies to be covered by the clause. We are continuing to talk to the research community and will outline more detail by 1 May, when this clause takes effect."

The clause, announced in February, states that from 1 May 2016, any organisations receiving government grants would be banned from using taxpayer funds to lobby Parliament. However, it does not prevent organisations from using privately-raised funds for this purpose.

Since the announcement of the proposed clause, researchers have been worried that it would make it extremely difficult for them to engage with policy making and offering advice.

Eight life science societies, including the British Pharmacological Society and the Royal Society of Biology, co-signed a letter highlighting the concerns of the research community, which was sent to the Cabinet Office in early March. A copy of the letter was sent to Jo Johnson and to the Government chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport.

On 27 April, Matt Hancock today announced in the House of Commons that there would be a 'pause' in the implementation of the anti-lobbying clause. The clause was due to be inserted into all government grants by 1 May.

A Cabinet Office statement says, "We are pausing the implementation pending a review of the representations made and we will take a decision on the form of the clause following this review."