Latest POSTnotes from the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has recently published the following POSTnotes:

Electricity Demand-Side Response
Demand-Side Response describes electricity users (the demand side) changing their patterns of use in response to incentives. It is one of several options eligible for Government support introduced by the 2013 Energy Act. This POSTnote outlines DSR, how it is provided, its role for the UK and its potential future development.


Epigenetics and Health
Epigenetics refers to a range of factors that regulate the activity of genes. Such factors can contribute to a host of human diseases from cancer to mental illness and knowledge of epigenetics may help to reduce disease risk in ageing populations. This POSTnote examines how recent advances in this field can be used to develop new treatments, inform public health policy, and contribute to the UK economy.


Special Educational Needs
In 2013, one in five pupils in England were identified as having special educational needs (SEN). The Children and Families Bill will reform the provision available for these children and young people. This POSTnote summarises the nature and diversity of SEN and discusses the support and outcomes for affected children and their families.


Minimising the harms of khat
The Government has announced its decision to control the herbal stimulant khat as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Dugs Act 1971. Earlier this year, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) found insufficient evidence of khat as a cause of harms to justify a ban. This POSTnote summarises the evidence on the impact of khat on health and possible social harms in the UK and comparable international experiences of legislation and control.


Urban Green Infrastructure
Urban green infrastructure is a network of green spaces, water and other natural features within urban areas. A green infrastructure approach uses natural processes to deliver multiple functions, such as reducing the risk of flooding and cooling high urban temperatures. This POSTnote summarises research evidence of the effectiveness of green infrastructure, and challenges to its implementation.


Negative Emissions Technologies
If emissions of greenhouse gases are not sufficiently mitigated, it may become necessary to artificially accelerate the rate at which they are removed from the atmosphere in order to restrict global warming. This POSTnote provides an overview of some technologies that could remove atmospheric CO2 and summarises the environmental, social and economic issues they raise.


Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment – POST Note
Disease causing bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic drug treatment. Diseases once controlled by antibiotics are re-emerging as serious risks to human health. This POSTnote outlines the hazards posed by resistant bacteria, the sources of resistance in the environment and measures that may reduce these risks globally.

The main POST website is:

If you would like further information on these briefings please contact or 020 7219 8377.

Child Maintenance Q&A and briefings

DWP Minister Steve Webb is hosting a Q&A session to explain the forthcoming changes to Child Maintenance.

Date: Monday 20 January 2014

Time: 16:00 – 17:00

Venue: Committee Room 7

For further information, please contact Joe Stacey on 020 7340 4323.

If Members and/or their staff would like to attend any of the following briefings, please can they RSVP as soon as possible to CMG.STRATEGICBRIEFING@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK

The DWP will also be holding Child Maintenance Policybriefings for constituency staff across the country from the end of January:

London & South East Region, London, Friday 24 January 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

East of England Region, Norwich, Tuesday 28 January 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

North East Region, Newcastle, Wednesday 29 January 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

Scotland, Falkirk, Thursday 30 January 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

North West Region, Birkenhead, Friday 31 January 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

South West Region, Plymouth, Tuesday 4 February 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

Wales, Cardiff, Wednesday 5 February 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00

Midlands Region, Dudley, Thursday 6 February 2014 – 11:00 to 13:00