Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Peer (and MP) Review

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Peer (and MP) Review

Article excerpt

I wonder if the Campaign for Science and Engineering knows enough history to recognise Benito Mussolini's model of a "corporate state"? ("Loss of science expertise feared", News, 14 June.) The group demands that at least 30 per cent of a reformed House of Lords' membership should be appointed (not elected) to ensure "scientific expertise" is not lost from Parliament. Mussolini wanted every area of work to be incorporated as a distinct cell within one controlling state structure.

This is incompatible in the long term with the one-man, one-vote democratic choices on which the UK ultimately depends. Our voters are free to choose representatives on the basis, say, of their haircut, fashion sense or accent, as well as any "expertise" they feel is important. If they want, a few years later they may prefer a different haircut - or even reward good performance for constituents and national impact in parliamentary debates and committees!

A weakness in our democracy is the low and declining level of participation by my fellow scientists. Cambridge City is lucky to have Julian Huppert, an MP who was a research scientist, but we need scientists who are willing to travel to Westminster and give less expert MPs the benefit of their evidence. …

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