Liberal Democrat peer and Patron of Humanists UK
Born in 1928, Dick Taverne was educated at Charterhouse before studying Philosophy and Ancient History at Balliol College, Oxford. He became a lawyer, then an MP, and then a Minister from 1966 to 1970. Initially a Labour MP, he resigned from the Labour party in 1972 and was re-elected as an Independent Social Democrat. In the early 1970s he launched the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and in 1993 founded a think tank, the Public Policy Centre, which later became a consultancy specialising in economic and political analysis, Prima Europe. In 1996 he was appointed a life peer.
His interests include science and society, and in 2004 he founded Sense About Science, a charitable trust to encourage an evidence-based approach to scientific and technological developments. He is a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee and of the Parliamentary Humanist Group. He was elected President of the Research Defence Society in 2004, and is the author of The March of Unreason – Science, Democracy and the New Fundamentalism (OUP, 2005). He was awarded the 2005 prize for “Parliamentary Science Communicator of the Year”, awarded for “clear, informed and effective communication of science in and from Parliament… for sustained performance above and beyond the call of duty… that showed a wide-ranging, long-term commitment to science as a whole”.
In April 2007 he gave the Voltaire Lecture at University College, London, hosted by the Humanist Philosophers’ Group and Humanists UK, and chaired by Professor Steve Jones. His topic was “Are science and religion incompatible?”.
Read his contribution to the Lords debate on faith schools on 08/02/06.