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Today the Cabinet Office has announced new standards in Government grants that withdraw from the ‘anti-advocacy clause’ proposed earlier this year.

There was widespread concern that the clause, which proposed a ban on taxpayers’ funds being used for political lobbying, would also prevent scientists and researchers from advising ministers and MPs.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has now outlined new standards on its grants, clarifying that universities and charities could not use grants to pay for professional lobbyists, but they could continue to advise and inform Government policy.

The standards say: 'The new approach includes clear guidance for research grant managers that activities such as responding to select committees and consultations are appropriate for inclusion in their research grant terms.'

Dr Mark Downs CSci FRSB, chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology said:
“Policy making should be robustly-evidenced and appropriately challenged by the people who are publicly funded to increase relevant knowledge.

“We are very pleased that Government has listened to the concerns of the community, removed uncertainty, and officially acknowledged that informing policy and public debate is an integral part of the research process.”

Read more about RSB’s work and the anti-lobbying bill:
21 April 2016: Signs of hope for science advice
29 February 2016: New rules could restrict scientists sharing knowledge with Government

26 February 2016: Opinion piece on our blog by Laura Bellingan: Public benefit from publicly funded research is at risk