There are growing worries in universities that restrictions on the use of public money to lobby the government, initially focused on charities, may have a chilling effect on the independence of publicly funded research. Whether this is ministers’ intention is an open question.
In mid-February, the government announced that a new clause will be inserted into new and renewed grant agreements from May 1, forbidding recipients from “using taxpayer funds to lobby government and parliament”. As well as covering grants to charities to carry out services, this also covers those “funding research and development”.
Pessimists, and conspiracy theorists, discern a pattern of the government displaying alarming authoritarian instincts. Ministers do not seem to recognise the need for (more…)