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Science Advisory Non-Departmental Public Bodies: Triennial Review

Volume 627: debated on Thursday 20 July 2017

On 21 July 2014, my predecessor as Home Secretary my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), announced in Parliament, through a written ministerial statement, the commencement of the triennial review of the Home Office science advisory non-departmental public bodies: the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD); the Animals in Science Committee (ASC); and the National DNA Database Ethics Group (NDNADEG). I am now pleased to announce the completion of the review.

The ACMD, ASC and NDNADEG are independent bodies that advise ministers on scientific issues.

The review concludes that the functions performed by the ACMD, the ASC and the NDNADEG are still required and that they should be retained as non-departmental public bodies. The review concludes that the control and governance arrangements are robust and compliant with the principles set out in the principles of good corporate governance for advisory NDPBs, the code of practice for scientific advisory NDPBs and the principles of scientific advice to Government.

The review recommends that the remit of the NDNADEG should be extended to cover the ethical issues associated with all forensic identification techniques including facial recognition technology and fingerprinting, and the collection and retention of biometric data. This recommendation has been accepted and therefore the name of the NDNADEG will change to the Biometrics And Forensics Ethics Group. The review also makes two recommendations in relation to accountability of Ministers for the bodies: that the chair of the NDNADEG should meet a Home Office Minister in the next 12 months; and an annual report should be published for the ASC and ACMD. Both recommendations have been accepted.

The full report of the triennial review of the ACMD, the ASC and the NDNADEG can be found on the website and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.