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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
27 May 2004
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby, will be in Newbury on 27 May. Joining him for the interactive debate will be Peter Hain MP, Caroline Spelman MP, Phil Willis MP, journalist Janet Street-Porter, and actor and writer Julian Fellowes.

Peter Hain MP


Title: Leader of the Commons and Welsh Secretary

Career: Peter Hain has been considering new security measures in the House of Commons after "purple flour bombs" were thrown at the Prime Minister.

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He had previously argued for improved security in parliament and was instrumental in having a security screen built in the public gallery, although this failed to stop the attack as those responsible were seated in front of it.

Brought up in South Africa, Peter Hain began his political career as a leading campaigner against that country's apartheid regime. More recently he has been an outspoken critic of Robert Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe.

Caroline Spelman MP


Title: Conservative Local Government Spokesman

Career: Caroline Spelman was first elected in 1997 and is one of two women in Michael Howard's shadow cabinet.

She has denied accusations from Labour this week that she wants to bring back the poll tax. She said the Conservatives favoured a "property-based tax" and attacked the way council tax had increased since Labour came to power.

She has said a Conservative Government would do more for the Third World on debt relief and fair trade. She is an expert on agricultural matters, having worked as an agricultural consultant prior to her election.

Phil Willis MP


Title: Liberal Democrat Education Spokesman

Career: Phil Willis has helped define the party's philosophy of opposition to selection in schools and support for the comprehensive system.

He opposes the government's proposals for specialist and faith schools as creating a two-tier system. He has criticised Labour for not spending enough on education and the Conservatives over their record in government.

Phil Willis entered the Commons in 1997, after seven years as leader of Harrogate district council, where he helped to reinvent the town as a conference venue. Before that he worked as a local head teacher.

Janet Street-Porter


Title: Editor at Large, Independent on Sunday

Career: Janet Street-Porter's current management style has been called "anonymous", compared to her previous high profile in the media.

From 1988 to 1994 she was the BBC's head of youth and entertainment features, where she coined the phrase "yoof TV". She has also worked for the Daily Mail, London's Evening Standard, LBC Radio and London Weekend Television.

Janet Street-Porter is a keen walker and is vice-president of the Ramblers Association. She also enjoys listening to the Proms on BBC Radio 3.

Julian Fellowes


Title: Actor and Writer

Career: Julian Fellowes's career took on a new dimension in 2002 when he won an Oscar for his screenplay of Gosford Park.

He is known to TV and film audiences for roles including a government minister in the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies and a Scottish laird in the BBC TV series Monarch of the Glen.

Julian Fellowes is the son of a diplomat and has a prestigious ancestry, while his wife Emma is lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael. His first novel, Snobs, was published last month and is narrated through the eyes of a well-connected but unnamed actor.

BBC One's Question Time is broadcast on Thursdays at 2235 GMT.


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