In Parliament and Science, the Dutch House of Representatives works together with six science organisations: the Young Academy, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), the Dutch Research Council (NWO), TNO and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU). The collaboration started in 2011 in the form of a pilot, was formalised in 2014 (covenant) and intensified in 2019. With effect from 1 January 2019, TNO entered the partnership and the efforts of the science organisations were intensified: from 0.5 fte to 1.5 fte. In January 2020, the NFU joined the participating science organisations.
A network survey provides parliamentary committees with an overview of scientists with knowledge in a specific area. The network survey can be used, for example, to prepare for a roundtable discussion, hearing or breakfast meeting. It is also regularly used to select authors for a scientific fact sheet.
Scientific fact sheet or position paper
Parliamentary committees can request a scientific fact sheet about a specific subject. Scientists can also take the initiative to produce such a fact sheet. The fact sheet contains a current overview of scientific knowledge about the subject concerned and references to sources and other publications. If a position paper is requested, it offers the authors the opportunity to link their analysis to an advice.
During an informal, closed breakfast meeting scientists discuss current topics with Dutch MPs. The scientists illuminate the subject from different disciplines and perspectives. MPs use the information for the parliamentary debate. A breakfast meeting is usually prepared with a position paper from the participating scientists.
Since the start of 2018, the Dutch government has been obliged to clearly substantiate policy and legislative proposals (Section 3.1 Dutch Compatibility Act. At the start of 2020, the Dutch House of Representatives expressed the need for a scientific test of that substantiation: are the choices the government has made viable? Are there policy alternatives in other countries that are proven to be (more) effective? Has the evaluation strategy been carefully thought through? A form has been developed for this test that was presented to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Khadija Arib, on 8 September 2020.
The employees of the Analysis and Research Department, who are responsible for providing knowledge to parliamentary committees, receive information on an almost daily basis about new scientific research on subjects that are (potentially) relevant for the Dutch House of Representatives.
Since 2018 a mini-symposium Parliament and Science has been organised each year. The aim of this is to inform Dutch MPs and Dutch Parliament employees (from parties and committees) about a current scientific subject that could potentially have considerable societal effects. In 2018 the theme was “robotisation” and in 2019 it was “blockchain”. In 2020 the mini-symposium was due to be included in a broader event: Claim and Prove – a two-day meeting between science and politics. However, this event could not take place due to the government’s COVID-19 measures.
For more information about Parliament and Science, please contact Hugo van Bergen.