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For a Bit of Scientific Advice

There's a lack of good scientific advice being given to government officials in the UK, a senior MP laments in a letter to the Cabinet Office minister.

As the Guardian reports, Andrew Miller, the chair of the House of Commons science and technology committee, says that a number of chief scientific adviser jobs have remained empty or have yet to be created. At least four departments, he says, haven't hired qualified, independent advisers.

"This crucial role is not being given the respect that it deserves and is becoming increasingly diluted," Miller says in his letter to Francis Maude.

The top scientific adviser spot at the Treasury, for instance, went to James Richardson, who already was its chief microeconomist, and the adviser job at the education department went to economist Tim Leunig, who Miller says used to work as a policy adviser for the department and may not therefore be able to give independent advice.