Prime Minister spotlights critical role of science in solving global problems
22 June 2005
Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday turned a spotlight on the vital role of science today and in the future when he spoke at a Royal Society of Chemistry conference in Westminster.
Tony Blair speaking at Parliamentary Links Day
He pointed towards the contribution of scientists in meeting the challenges of tomorrow, many of them related to the July G8 summit in Gleneagles.
Mr Blair, invited to the conference by the RSC Parliamentary Affairs Office, made a 20-minute appearance at the Royal Society of Chemistry's annual Parliamentary Links Day held at the Houses of Parliament, where he underscored the need for scientists to address climate change and the challenges of Africa, due to be the main planks of the summit.
The Prime Minister rounded off by calling for greater interplay between what he described as the "civic side" of society and scientists to gain greater understanding and joint progress between the two communities.
The Prime Minister said that the teaching of science was also of critical importance, partly so that Britain could compete in the future with emerging economies including those of China and India.
The event at which Mr Blair spoke is the only one at which Parliament, Government and the science community have discussed the science behind the issues in the upcoming G8 meeting.
The Prime Minister arrived for his unbilled speech at the sell-out event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry's Parliamentary Affairs Office and spoke without notes to the standing-room-only audience that included chemical scientists, biologists, physicists and representatives of other disciplines as well as politicians from different parties.
The theme of Parliamentary Links Day 2005 was Science and the New Parliament: the G8 Agenda, with speakers expanding on key scientific issues relating to Africa and to climate change.
Co-hosted on a non-party basis by Dr Brian Iddon MP and Dr Andrew Murrison MP, speakers included the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP (Secretary of State for International Development) Sir David King (the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser) and Lord Sainsbury (Minister for Science and Innovation) as well as leading figures from Parliament and from the scientific and engineering community including speakers on behalf of the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Biology, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Campaign for Science and Engineering.
The Royal Society of Chemistry's President, Dr Simon Campbell, a drug discovery scientist, pointed out that according to the World Health Organisation 40m people in the world are infected with HIV with 25m in sub-Saharan Africa. "These are clearly harrowing numbers but however bad they are the truth is they are actually dwarfed in scale by malaria."
He added that malaria is seen as the number one killer disease with up to 600m infected annually and about one million deaths. Dr Campbell said that new classes of anti-malarial molecules will depend upon innovative chemistry.
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