Julian is continuing his campaign against this noxious legislation in the House of Commons. One of his first acts has been to find his way to the Table Office to put together Early Day Motion 17. For those of you not familiar with EDMs, they're a bit like House of Commons petitions, a way of raising awareness of a particular subject. They don't get debated or anything, but if you write to your MP and ask them to sign an EDM on a particular subject, it means that they have to think about the issues involved. Julian's EDM says as follows:
That this House believes that sections nine to 18 of the Digital Economy Act 2010 should not have been rushed through in the dying days of the last Parliament; further believes that these sections have large repercussions for consumers, civil liberties, freedom of information and access to the internet; and calls on the Government to introduce early legislation to repeal those provisions.
If you don't know who your MP is, you can find out at Write to Them.
Julian made his maiden speech which really lifted my spirits. He skilfully and seamlessly wove liberal principles into an eloquent description of his new constituency and for me was the speech of the day.
It certainly cheered me up after I'd sat through Thomas Docherty, the new MP for Dunfermline and West Fife's speech. I know, it's democracy and everything, but on a personal level, I can't pretend that was a painless experience for me. If you don't know why, read this.
Back to Julian, it's great to have another real proper scientist in there to be a voice for a scientifice, rational and evidence based approach to policy and law making:
As one of the few scientists in this House, I hope to bring my expertise to bear on many of the issues facing us..
I suspect that my own research field will not come up too often. I work-or, rather, I worked-on four-stranded DNA structures called G-quadruplexes. I studied how these structures form within cells, how they control which genes are turned on and off, and how they can be targets for new anti-cancer drugs. I do not think that will come up, but it is an understanding of how science works that I bring to this House.
I can speak on wider issues of science policy, such as the funding process for both applied and blue-skies research, and on the operation of the DNA database. I can also speak on how science should affect the broader reaches of policy: for instance, I can speak about making decisions on low-carbon energy sources, following the ideas of my scientific colleague Professor David MacKay, who is now chief scientific adviser at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
I so wish Evan Harris was in there with him - these two would have been a formidable team but, maybe, in 5 years' time he'll be back.