On 6 February 2016, Matthew Hancock, Conservative Minister for the Cabinet Office, announced that a new clause would be inserted into all new and renewed government grant agreements effective 1 May.
Under this clause, those who receive public funding cannot use that funding to “influence or attempt to influence Parliament, government or political parties” or to attempt to “influence legislative or regulatory action.”
The clause has been dubbed the “anti-lobby” or “anti-advocacy” clause because it threatens to block researchers who receive government grants from using their results to influence policy. Critics of the new clause say it amounts to a “muzzling” of scientists and could impact on key policy areas, including climate change. Effectively it could stifle criticism and informed debate about the consequences of government policies.
According to the Cabinet Office announcement, the clause was directly inspired by research done by the free market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs – an organisation with known ties to tobacco, oil, and climate denial.
This DeSmog UK series tracks the evolution and impacts of this new policy rule.