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Informing and enhancing public life

We are dedicated to informing and enhancing public life by using Brunel research to solve problems and help decision-makers arrive at better solutions. We seek to do this in many different ways:

  • We actively demonstrate the policy-relevance of our world-leading research. Our policy briefings help public bodies see how our research can enhance the work they do, whether that’s related to public health, procurement, election regulation or a myriad of other areas.

  • We offer policy support, showing how our research can help public bodies with sophisticated techniques and methods, evaluative tools and so on.

  • We engage with enquiries from public and third sector bodies who are seeking policy advice or support in particular areas, and who wish to draw on our extensive expertise

  • As a civic University, we are dedicated to supporting our local communities. We help do this by running events from which the whole community can benefit

Recent examples of written evidence

Policy Options to Eliminate Additional Marine Plastic Litter - Resource Panel

Report co-authored by Dr Lesley Henderson (Brunel University London).

Read the report here.

Committee on Standards in Public Life - Review of Electoral Regulation

Evidence submitted by Professor Justin Fisher (Brunel University London).

Read the full paper here.

UK Parliament formal meeting (oral evidence session): UK aid to Pakistan

Professor Javaid Rehman Professor of International Human Rights Law at Brunel University gives evidence to the UK Parliament.

Watch the session here.

Assessment of cost-effective changes to the current and potential provision of smoking cessation services

Increasing the reach of smoking cessation services and/or including new but effective medications to the current provision may provide significant health and economic benefits; the scale of such benefits is currently unknown. The aim of this study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness from a health-care perspective of viable national level changes in smoking cessation provision in the Netherlands and England.

Read the full paper here.

Cytisine versus varenicline for smoking cessation in New Zealand indigenous Māori: a randomized controlled trial

To determine whether cytisine was at least as effective as varenicline in supporting smoking abstinence for ≥ 6 months in New Zealand indigenous Māori or whānau (extended-family) of Māori, given the high smoking prevalence in this population.

Read the full paper here.

Influencer culture inquiry       

Evidence submitted by Dr Hayleigh Bosher in May 2021 in answer to the following questions: 

  • How would you define ‘influencers’ and ‘influencer culture’? 
  • Has ‘influencing’ impacted popular culture? If so, how has society and/or culture changed because of this side of social media?
  • Is it right that influencers are predominantly associated with advertising and consumerism, and if not, what other roles to influencers fulfil online?How are tech companies encouraging or disrupting the activities of influencing?
  • How aware are users of the arrangements between influencers and advertisers? Should policymakers, tech companies, influencers and advertisers do more to ensure these arrangements are transparent? 

Read the full paper here.

Public support for ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ behavioural public policies

Dr Manu Savani with colleagues from London School of Economics and Political Science review the literature on public support for ‘soft’ versus ‘hard’ policy instruments for behaviour change, and the factors that drive such preferences. Soft policies typically include ‘moral suasion’ and educational campaigns, and more recently behavioural public policy approaches like nudges. Hard policy instruments, such as laws and taxes, restrict choices and alter financial incentives. In contrast to the public support evidenced for hard policy instruments during COVID-19, prior academic literature pointed to support for softer policy instruments. We investigate and synthesise the evidence on when people prefer one type of policy instrument over another. 

Read the full paper here.

Propriety of governance in light of Greensill

Evidence submitted by Professor Justin Fisher 

Executive Summary 

  • Lobbying is a positive aspect of democratic life and is undertaken by a broad range of political actors – not just the private sector.
  • The Register of Lobbyists covers only a tiny proportion of lobbying activity.
  • There has been progress in self-regulation of lobbying conduct via the Public Affairs Code, but its coverage is far from complete.
  • The Register of Lobbyists should be expanded to cover all professional lobbying activity.
  • The existing Public Affairs Code should apply to all professional lobbyists.
  • An independent self-regulatory body should be established to oversee and enforce the Public Affairs Code.
  • Failure to establish such an independent body within a reasonable timeframe should result in statutory enforcement of the Public Affairs Code.

Read the full paper here.

UK IPO Artificial Intelligence Call for Views: Copyright and Related Rights

Response of Brunel Law School & Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Dr Hayleigh Bosher

The UK Intellectual Property Office sought views on the implications artificial intelligence might have for IP policy. Hayleigh’s evidence argues that: 

  1. The analogy of copying someone’s work inside a human brain, is not an appropriate way of considering whether copyright protected works are infringed by AI.
  2. The test for copyright infringement in these circumstances needs to be adapted, in that it focuses on the AI ‘Producers’ (meaning the person responsible) activities (such as data input) rather than the output.
  3. It should be clarified in what circumstances the current copyright exceptions apply to AI processes.
  4. It needs to be considered whether or not private agreements could or should be made above or below any policy decision as to the ownership of copyright in AI-generated works.
  5. There should be a distinction between AI-assisted works and AI-generated works.
  6. Additional rights should be considered such as performance and moral rights. 

Read the full paper here.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee's Inquiry:Economics of Music Streaming

Evidence from Dr Hayleigh Bosher, Brunel University London

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is examining what economic impact music streaming is having on artists, record labels and the sustainability of the wider music industry. Hayleigh’s evidence argues that: 

 

  1. The government should consider the implement a system of equitable remuneration.
  2. Require more transparency from record labels and publishers, which is necessary for artists. Claims for data information could be made under the current UK data protection law.
  3. Copyright should revert back to the creator after a period of time.
  4. ‘Playlisters’ should be regulated by the UK Advertising Standards Agency in the same way as influencers.

Read the paper here.

COVID and Criminal Law

Written evidence from Dr Melanie Collard, Brunel University London; Dr Isra Black, University of York; Dr Lisa Forsberg, University of Oxford; Dr Henrique Carvalho, University of Warwick; Dr Anastasia Chamberlen, University of Warwick

Our summary conclusions are:

  • The legal regime for coronavirus restrictions gives rise to significant concern in respect of compliance with the requirements of the ECHR principle of legality.
  • The government’s extensive use of criminalisation through the made affirmative procedure has deprived coronavirus restrictions of democratic legitimacy and may have reduced public understanding, acceptance, and trust in the legal response to Covid-19.
  • The experience of the response to Covid-19 offers an opportunity to learn lessons about the appropriateness and extent of criminalisation in public health, both in terms of effectiveness and externalities.
  • The use of FPNs as the principal tool of criminalisation of Covid-19 offences risks unintended criminalisation, may be counterproductive to public health objectives, and may further entrench inequality and discrimination.

Our evidence considers the law in England only.

Read the full paper here.  

Role of batteries and fuel cells in achieving Net Zero

Dr Chun Sing Lai, Lecturer, Brunel Interdisciplinary Power Systems (BIPS) Research Centre, Professor Gareth Taylor, Director, BIPS Research Centre, Dr Mohamed Darwish, Reader, BIPS Research Centre, Brunel University London
BIPS Research Centre at Brunel University London delivers world-class research in power systems analysis for transmission and distribution networks, smart grids, and analysis of new energy markets.

Professor Giorgio Locatelli, Chair in Project Business Strategy, University of Leeds 
Prof Locatelli received his PhD “Cum Laude” in Industrial engineering, economics, and management from Politecnico di Milano in 2011. His research area is project management in large and complex infrastructure. He is also a consultant and visiting academic for several institutions, including the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This evidence and the recommendations are based primarily upon findings derived from research activities conducted for Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Standard Research Project EP/022049/1. The research project was focussed on utility-scale energy storage for low carbon electricity generation. The findings and recommendations are highly relevant to the call for evidence. 

March 2021

Executive Summary 

  • Recommendation 1: Energy policy schemes should be enacted to support and protect the planning, development and operations of energy storage in related markets, in particular utility-scale energy storage in combination of low carbon electricity generation1 incentives. 
  • Recommendation 2: Generation Integrated Energy Storage (GIES) systems2 have been demonstrated as technically and economically viable energy storage options in achieving net zero. On that basis, GIES systems can be considered for storage of thermal and mechanical energy produced by solar and wind power.
  • Recommendation 3: Price floor mechanisms as applied for carbon trading3 can also enhance energy storage economic viability and reduce electricity market volatility. Upfront subsidies required to meet the high upfront costs and long lifetimes of energy storage is needed with regard to currently expensive battery technologies. 
  • Recommendation 4: From a long-term (i.e., 5 to 20 years) perspective, mathematical models can be developed to analyse the technical and economic impacts on the wider energy system in terms of extensive installation of large-scale batteries. 

Read the full paper here.  

Review of the work of the Electoral Commission

The Work of the Electoral CommissionEvidence submitted by Professor Justin Fisher, Brunel University London

Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science at Brunel University London. He has worked extensively with the Electoral Commission, the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the Council of Europe on enquiries related to party finance and electoral regulation. He has advised electoral bodies both in the UK and overseas.

Declaration of Interest: I have conducted commissioned research via Brunel University London on behalf of the Electoral Commission at each general election since 2005 and following the 2016 referendum.

October 2020

Executive Summary

  • Recommendation 1:  The Electoral Commission should continue to perform its current roles and functions.
  • Recommendation 2: The enforcement of candidate spending should come under the remit of the Commission.
  • Recommendation 3: Both the investigatory powers and the fines available to the Commission should be extended.
  • Recommendation 4:  Consideration should be given to whether the administration and funding of elections should fall under the Commission’s remit.
  • Recommendation 5:  Consideration should be given to creating an Electoral Commissioner responsible for sub-national government.

Read the full paper here.  

The use of Vitamin D at a Population Level Against COVID-19

Dr Fotios Drenos, Brunel University London

February 2021

Key Findings

  • There is no evidence linking low vitamin D to COVID-19
  • Vitamin D should not be promoted as being protective against COVID-19 

 Read the full paper here.   

Informing environmental protection (Single-use Plastic Products and Oxo-degradable Plastic Products) regulations in Scotland

These regulations propose introducing market restrictions – effectively a ban – for problematic single-use plastic (SUP) items and all oxo-degradable products in line with Article 5 of the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (EU) 2019/904. The responses received will help shape the final regulations that will support the Scottish Government in its work to reduce marine litter and support a shift away from our throwaway culture.Evidence submitted by Dr Lesley Henderson, Reader in Sociology and Communications at Brunel University London.

Key recommendations:

  • While the proposed regulation is welcomed, there is likely to be confusion over which products are included as oxo-degradable (for example multi-layered products).
  • There are no recommendations regarding use of alternatives which is a significant omission in light of COVID-19 which has led to significant increases in food packaging waste.
  • New regulations must be accompanied by public awareness and education materials which contextualise this legislation within wider circular economy initiatives.

Read the full paper here

  

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