New anti-lobbying rules will not apply to academics.

‘The universities and science minister has said that the government does not intend to subject academics to new rules that critics feared would have stopped them from contributing to public debate.

With just two weeks to go until the change is implemented, Jo Johnson made the announcement this afternoon after criticism that new Cabinet Office rules, targeted at charities lobbying for legislative changes, would also have prevented scholars from receiving public grants if they attempted to “influence” the government.

However, Sarah Main, Case director, told Times Higher Education that other departments, aside from BIS, that funded research also needed to make sure the same exemptions apply.

“If you’re a university administrator or researcher, you don’t want to have to be running through the different parts of the clause”, finding out which conditions applied to certain research projects, she said.’ – Times Higher Education

‘It is disturbing how quietly the clause is being introduced, with little public outcry and not enough opposition - at least in England - from the major institutions, even though worried charities have written to the government voicing concern and the science community has begun to speak out. One problem is the extent to which in recent times - particularly since the Blair years - organisations from the top down have been encouraged to 'negotiate' directly with government. The result of this is that some are decrying the regulation while in the same breath arguing for an exemption from it. To its credit the Scottish government has rejected it, and the most robust public rebuttal so far has come from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

This clause is not the action of a government seeking to further public debate but of one wishing to build its very own safe space. It will be damaging for democracy and should be scrapped.’ – Huffington Post


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