Lord Sainsbury one of three politicians honoured by RSC

12 March 2007

Lord Sainsbury, who recently stepped down from an eight year tenure as Science Minister, is to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Baroness Platt of Writtle and Robert Key MP will also be recognised with Parliamentary Awards for their contributions to science. All three awards will take place this evening (Monday 12 March) in Dining Room B, Ground Floor Corridor, House of Commons, at 7pm.

With an enthusiasm and dedication to science second to none, Lord Sainsbury holds the distinction of being the longest serving minister in the labour government apart from the Prime Minister and chancellor.

He also oversaw a massive increase in the science budget throughout his tenure.

RSC president Professor Jim Feast said: "Lord Sainsbury, Baroness Platt and Robert Key MP have all made outstanding contributions to science throughout their long and distinguished careers.

"The Royal Society of Chemistry is delighted to recognise their achievements with these awards."

Lord Sainsbury will be presented with a special framed print from the RSC's library archive - an amusing illustration of the content of the River Thames before sewers were installed - the so called "Great Stink"- dated 1828.

It was presented as a reminder of what science has done to improve hygiene standards in London and around the country.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the time Lord Sainsbury's resignation: "Lord Sainsbury has worked tirelessly to push the case for science within government. 

"It is in no small part down to him that this country's science base is in better shape than for decades, something of vital importance for this country's future."

Baroness Platt will be presented with a Parliamentary Award for her services to science and engineering.

She has served for more than quarter of a century in the House of Lords, and been an advocate of advancing the cause of women in science and engineering.

Robert Key, conservative MP for Salisbury, also receives a Parliamentary Award to acknowledge his many years promoting science, including serving on the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.

Mr Key said: "Science and its application is increasingly important to each and every one of us on this planet. Huge and significant challenges must be confronted - ranging from future sources of energy to the treatment of disease and the eradication of poverty. 

"We can only meet these challenges with the help of science, delivered by appropriate technology."

Mr Key's constituency of Salisbury has a particularly thriving scientific community with thousands of jobs dependent on cutting-edge science and technology. Companies and establishments include the UK Department of Health's Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research, the Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Laboratories at Porton Down, and QinetiQ aircraft testing and evaluation at Boscombe Down Airfield.

Both Baroness Platt and Mr Key will also received framed prints from the RSC archive, showing an animation scientist Michael Faraday presenting Father Thames with a note explaining his disgust at the state of the river at that time.

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