PoliSCI weekly digest w/e 15 Sept 17

14 September 2017

PoliSCI (w/e 15th September)

What’s been in the news?

New Science & Technology Committee members announced

New members of the Science & Technology Select Committee, which will be chaired by Normal Lamb, Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk, were announced on Monday. Lamb was elected to the position by secret ballot in July. Successful candidates include Conservative MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock Stephen Metcalfe, who previously sat on the committee from 2010 to 2015 and then again from last October, and newcomer Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South and former Shadow Energy and Climate Change Minister.

The committee has faced heavy criticism after the original line-up revealed that no women were to sit on the committee, although Vicky Ford, Conservative MP for Chelmsford, has since joined the mix, leaving two empty positions. Lamb said that the lack of women was ‘unacceptable’ in an open letter to both the Labour and Conservative whips, urging them to nominate women for the remaining two positions. ‘No overall coordination’ between parties had led to an unrepresentative committee, he said. Currently, the committee selection process is individual to the party and they themselves identify candidates. In this case, there were not enough female volunteers for the committee. Critics have called for a change in the system to ensure representation in all committees.

May’s EU Withdrawal Bill passes by 36 votes

The EU Withdrawal Bill has passed its first hurdle in Parliament after a second reading of the legislation, with MPs voting 326 to 290 in favour of the bill. No Conservatives voted in opposition to their party and had the support of all 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) present at the vote. The bill lays out intentions to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

Also included in the bill are plans to create temporary powers to create secondary legislature to replace laws that will no longer be appropriate to the UK alone post-Brexit. However, Labour have argued that the proposed plans to exclude parliamentary scrutiny are ‘completely unacceptable’. MPs from both parties have called for Theresa May to make significant changes to the bill, including the creation of a joint House of Lords and Commons committee focused on scrutinising the government’s plans for secondary legislation, and a further bill after the Brexit bill has been finalised. 

BEIS announces clean energy projects to power 3.6 million homes

Eleven new clean energy projects have been announced by the Department of Business, Energy, Innovation & Skills from the second round of the Contracts for Difference auction, which hoped to encourage competition in renewable energy and reduce costs for customers. The projects, which are worth up to £176 million a year are predicted to power 3.6 million homes, which is over 3GW worth of electricity. Currently, the UK demands a current peak of 60GW a year, according to National Grid statistics.

The Contracts for Difference scheme, run in association with the Industrial Strategy and the upcoming Clean Growth Plan, have announced plans for the new projects, specialising in biomass to offshore wind, to be rolled across Great Britain by 2021. They predict that by 2023, offshore wind projects will provide electricity for £58/MWh – a 50% cost reduction – following the first round of funding allocation in 2015. Capacity to deliver energy will cost up to £526 million less a year as a result of the auction, BEIS says.

Upcoming events and networking opportunities

Calls for evidence

Deadline: Open-ended

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has announced a short inquiry to evaluate the impact of Brexit on the energy industry in the UK, and what issues should be prioritised by the UK government when pursuing a new energy relationship with the EU. 

Funding calls

Competition opens: Monday 10 July 2017

Registration closes: Wednesday 20 September 2017 12:00pm

The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) is to invest up to £35 million in a number of collaborative research and development (R&D) pre-production match-funded projects for low-carbon automotive technologies. Projects must demonstrate the development of technologies based around one or more of the Automotive Council’s 'sticky' technologies.

Competition opens: Monday 4 September 2017

Competition closes: Wednesday 1 November 2017 12:00pm

Innovate UK is set to invest up to £15 million in the medicines manufacturing sector through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Projects need to improve the productivity, competitiveness and growth of at least one small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the UK involved in the project. The competition is split into two parts—feasibility projects and industrial research and development projects.

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