Lord Rees, outgoing President of the Royal Society, has raised concerns over the abolition of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) saying it may affect the Government's ability to make well informed policy decisions. Talking to the Times on Wednesday 1 December, he questioned the extent to which the 'bonfire of the quangos' had been considered and highlighted the ongoing relevance of extra-governmental organisations in helping to inform government policy
The HFEA's functions would not cease to be required after its dissolution, he said. He also spoke in support of Baroness Ruth Deech's efforts to save the fertility regulator. Acknowledging that 'in some cases one sheds no tears for the abolition of quangos', the peer argued that nonetheless 'it seems to be an example of a policy that has been decided upon without tremendous forethought or consideration'.
Lord Rees was also concerned that - in the attack on quangos - specialist scientific organisations would be disproportionately hit. Mentioning the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Lord Rees raised his concerns that the independence of scientific advice could be compromised by bringing decision making inside government departments.
The news comes in the same week that the government was criticised for its proposal to repeal a statutory obligation to appoint scientists to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.