The Treasury has appointed James Richardson as its first chief scientific adviser.
The Treasury had been the only government department not to have a chief scientific adviser.
Commons Science and Technology Committee chair Andrew Miller MP welcomed the news and said: “As we said in a recent committee report, it is anomalous that the Treasury has, until this week, been the only government department not to have a chief scientific adviser.”
“It is essential that all departments across Whitehall receive the best natural and social scientific advice possible, especially at a time when difficult decisions are being made about spending priorities.
“We hope to take evidence from James Richardson, particularly on his role in informing on spending decisions, at an early opportunity,” Miller said.
Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) said: “It’s great news that HM Treasury have finally caught up and recognised the importance of having a [departmental] chief scientific adviser. We desperately need someone within the department who can talk about how critical a long-term investment strategy for science and engineering is for the UK’s future. Without that, we’re going to lose out in the international knowledge-economy race.”
“Now we need to ensure that the new post-holder is independent enough from the civil service – and has sufficient oversight powers – to make an impact.”
“CaSE has been pointing out for some time that the Treasury was the only government department that didn’t have a chief scientific adviser – though we’re concerned that the Department for Transport hasn’t made moves to replace its outgoing CSA,” Khan said.