Two important petitions – one UK, one international – are currently doing the rounds. The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) and Nesta are urging the UK Government to use the proceeds from the forthcoming auction of the 4G mobile spectrum to invest in science and technology. You can read more about the auction in this article from the Guardian and the CaSE/Nesta report is available here. In it, a plan for spending the expected £4bn windfall is outlined, split across four key themes. The first of these is People and Skills, with a significant emphasis on funding more early career researchers, as well as more school teachers in vital shortage areas such as mathematics. It also highlights the need to invest in infrastructure. This is imperative because whilst the Coalition has made a number of announcements of capital investment in science, this follows a much more significant cut in capital spending at the last Spending Review. You can sign the petition here; gaining 100,000 signatures would mean that it would be considered for debate in the House of Commons. Even if it is unsuccessful, the campaign will provide a useful opportunity to talk about the importance of investing in research and development ahead of the next spending review, which may take place next year. Parliamentarians need to know that this is of vital importance – we need to make our collective voices heard.
The second petition opposes cuts in the EU research budget. Over 12,500 people in the UK alone have already signed this, so thank you to those readers who may have done so. (Although as with research spending, we lag far behind Germany!) This point particularly resonates:
“Reliable financial support must be provided for long-term, often risky, fundamental research. Only then will the grand challenges be addressed in a sustainable way.”
We’ve also signed CaSE’s letter to the House of Commons Commission, opposing cuts to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). There’s a simple explanation of why this is essential on the CaSE blog. Whilst the House of Commons Commission has to make cuts, POST has a staff of just eight and the proposed 17% cut would severely limit the work of the new Director, Dr Chris Tyler, who has been planning activities that will increase the impact of POST in Parliament. A budgetary amputation would come at the worst possible time.
Those petition links again:
Please pass them on!