Thursday 26 November, Newcastle

Thursday 19 November, Peterborough

Thursday 12 November, Glasgow

Thursday 5 November, London

Thursday 29 October, Birmingham

Thursday 22 October, Cardiff

Thursday 15 October, Leeds

Thursday 8 October, Bournemouth

Thursday 1 October, Manchester

Thursday 24 September, London

Thursday 26 November, Newcastle

On the panel were:

  • Paul Sykes, founder of the Democracy Movement
  • Chris Patten, former governor of Hong Kong
  • Baroness Maddock, President of the Liberal Democrat party
  • Nick Brown MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Nigella Lawson, Columnist

    The decision of Japanese courts not to compensate former Prisoners of War

    Audience question: "Is 13,500 too much to ask for in return for years of imprisonment, torture and slavery?"

    Chris Patten said: "No it's not. I think the Japanese government should have apologised years ago. But I think there's somebody else who's culpable and that's successive British governments."

    Nick Brown said: "If ever there was a group of people who are deserving of our special sympathy and support it's the survivors of those hell camps. We should get together ourselves as private citizens, as political leaders and big companies and try to raise some money to make a gesture of reconciliation, from ourselves."

    Nigella Lawson said: "A refusal to apologise is like saying, "we don't think it matters".

    Paul Sykes said: "These people did suffer terribly under the Japanese but we're not surely saying that it's a few thousand pounds that's going to put it right and an apology. We signed off, along with the Japanese, a settlement. It's very hard now dragging it up into a constitutional issue with people that we've got massive trade with. The people are no longer there who did this."

    Baroness Maddock said: "Time is running out for some of these people. The Japanese government could be a little more generous in the way they try and understand what actually happened."

    You said:

    The British Nation sent the men to the Far East, then surely the British Nation is responsible for any claims - as an issuer does. The government would soon pressure the Japanese for their recompense.
    Andy Waterman

    Some of the methods used by the Japanese were practiced by the British Army at some time.
    Matt Davies

    It's a bit rich MPs complaining about the Japanese PoWs when they are withholding pay from PoWs themselves.
    Steve Pape

    The money, though of consequence is not as important to the survivors as the admission of fault on the part of the Japanese and the consequent loss of face on the part of their emperor; the spiritual embodiment of the people and nation.
    Richard Hinton

    Baroness Maddock's attitude towards Japan is hopelessly ill-informed. She stated that the Japanese have forgotten about their behaviour in WW2. This is VERY wrong. I lived in Hiroshima for a year and know that every student in the county studies "peace studies" every week and goes on a peace march every year. They are wholly conscious of their past and their mistakes. I'm afraid that the shame here lies with the victors, not the vanquished.
    James Miller

    Nick Brown's proposition will be well received if it is conveyed to the Japanese people through newspapers and television. There is in Japan a widespread opinion that the Japanese government should do a lot more to apologise and pacify the former PoWs whose lives were more or less destroyed by the treatment they had received. The quality broadsheets in Japan did and do report on the war crimes and in the school classrooms good teachers will fill in between the lines in history lessons.
    Tomiko Muro

    It seems that the Japanese are incapable of being humble and admitting they were wrong. Perhaps it's a "face-saving" issue. It appears to me that only the British (unless it's an American President) are capable of apologising and moving forward. The Japanese should be forced to aplogise even if it is against their culture and then I feel certain the compensation issue would pale into insignificance. In my opinion the Japanese are still at war with our veterans as by not apologising before they die, they are finishing the torture they started during the war.
    Marc Archibald

    Are the members of the panel that naive and young to have forgotten the massacre of the unarmed, illiterate masses of the Punjab attending a festival gathering in Gilianwala Bag? And this by people who were supposed to be in charge and done to teach a lesson by terrorising. Chris Patten's words astonished me! Nigella Lawson and others have read NO history?
    Dr Mehrishi, Cambridge

    Why can the victims of the Japanese not receive the money (23m) that is being spent on the bronze facade of the new government offices?
    Mairi Fisher, N Yorkshire

    Bear in mind that the same atrocities were committed by the colonial rulers in Africa and therefore would be impossible to compensate everybody and if British POWs expect the compensation then why not thousand of Africans?
    Shabbir Nagri

    Has everyone forgotten the War ended in 1945? A Settlement was reached in 1951 between Britain and Japan. Old wounds should not be re-opened.
    K Harrison

    The best answer, bearing in mind the relatively small amount of compensation asked for and the age of the ex-POWs, may be for the British Government to pay it, send the bill to the Japanese government, and simultaneously withdraw our ambassador and publicise the action so that the whole world becomes aware of it. In the long run, failing compensation from the Japanese, the British taxpayer should foot the bill, but always publicising the fact worldwide.
    Steve Brooke

    Money should be found NOW for those survivors left to use it. The current situation will not reach any satisfactory resolution during their lifetime. Surely we can give them something to make the rest of their lives easier. Perhaps this will encourage the Japanese to do the honourable thing and give them a fair compensation and an apology. However to some of the survivors the money is more than a principle, and as someone who is grateful for what they did I would like to see their remaining years spent in comfort. Lets' pay them first then chase the funds later.
    Eddie Jenkinson

    The Queen visited India last year and offered no apology to the people of that country for the atrocities we British had carried out.Why then do British people expect apologies and compensation from other aggressors. Hypocrites, us British, I think so!
    Steve Wallis

    The sentiment of Mr Patten is undoubtedly correct, however we are faced with the fact that as Mr Patten says that Japan is a very different country to than today. What is more important is a realisation that there was fault and then after a recompense scheme similar to that of proposed by Mr Brown.
    Stuart Blackwood

    European single currency

  • In response to an advertisement in the Financial Times signed by 114 businessmen in support of Britain joining the euro

    Audience question: "Would any of the members of the panel wish to add their names to the list of business leaders who advertised in last Monday's FT?"

    Paul Sykes said: "A single currency isn't something you just get and swap it for your pound. A single currency means a single economy across Europe and a single economy surely ultimately means a federal Europe and one government."

    Baroness Maddock said: "By playing round on sidelines and not being in there when decisions are made we have the worst of all worlds. I do think it's important that we're in there. Europe is the place where we have to be, but we have to be in the centre of it."

    Chris Patten said: "I think we should see how the euro develops. I think if the euro goes well we will probably join if it doesn't we won't join."

    You said:

    Single European state - one nation - one world - no political divisions!
    Stephen Hill

    Under 100 years ago Great Britain was the most powerful nation in the world. Since then, we have been victorious in numerous wars and in them defended the freedom of other nations. However, it is now time that we started to defend our own status as an individual nation. We must not, under any circumstances, join the Euro and we should withdraw from the EU altogether. We have little in common with the rest of the continent and the last thing the British people want is to be run by the Germans, which is the inevitable outcome of the UK joining a single currency. I want my Queen on my money - not some power-hungry, revenge-seeking German bureaucrat.
    S Rich

    Darren Green

    I think the euro is a very bad idea for the UK. We have no need to join as we already bring in more trade then any other member of the EU. Also why did we fight two world wars just so Tony Blair and his party could just hand control of the UK to Germany. Once he finally gives Germany our taxes, then Germany and the rest of the EU will tax the UK out of all major trading markets in the world. So if you ask me Tony Blair and his party either don't care about this country and its peoples views, or he and his party are all blind to what the EU and Germany are trying to blackmail our country in to. If the blackmail works it's high taxes, high unemploymnet and a life of misery for the whole of the UK.
    William Dryden

    It's all very well saying we should have been in at the beginning but do you really think all the other European governments would have simply accepted our way of doing things? No, we would have been stuck with their obsolete system and heading rapidly for the rocks. The world has moved on and the evolved system has to be fundamentally changed for a sustainable future. I applaud Gordon Brown for stating that we will not harmonise to their tax/benefit regime but when are we going to rectify our own system? By staying outside EMU we can avoid their chaos and demonstrate how it should be done. Our success will allow us to bail them out. They can then harmonise with us. Perhaps they, one by one, will choose to join Sterling as the new global reference and the de-facto European currency.
    Brian Shaw

    The debate concentrated too much on the economic argument. Even if it could be demonstrated that the single currency and EMU was on the whole a good thing, and of course there are many in industry and elswehere who argue it isn't, all this is merely incidental to the real end game which is now admitted to be a single European state. It is not generally known, but a much more worrying and dangerous consequence of further involvement with the EU, is the whole subject of Corpus Juris. A legal code, published for the EU Commission and the European Parliament, which will, amongst other things, abolish the right to trial by jury, allow for trials 'in camera', and arrest for up to nine months without trial or hearing. We are glimpsing the future and it's not pleasant.
    Richard Buttrey

    Is the real euro issue a re-introduction of exchange control? The money markets dislike large strong large currencies but love to exploit weak independent ones.
    Matt Davies

    Isn't it about time that Europe stops being portrayed as a 'bogey man' by narrow minded xenophobic millionaires, and people started being told about the advantages of EU membership and the euro. If people were more educated about the EU, and stopped believing the myths portryed by the tabloid right-wing press, then people wouldn't be so frightened and realise that although it is imperfect, the EU is a good thing, both for the British, and other Europeans.
    Graham Battersby

    The Euro is not just changing our currency, it is losing forever our rights as free men in an independent country. There is no evidence whatsoever that it would bring any real benefit, in fact all objective analysis indicates an economic disaster in the making (eg. European Research Group "The Euro: Bad for Business" report), but it WOULD mean common taxes (higher), common economic policy (unlikely to be in our interests), and ultimately sinking into a single european country run by Germany and France.
    Simon Muir, Bristol, UK

    The European States are facing a funding time-bomb of underfunded welfare benefits, far worse than the UK. Is it not a fact that the French in particular want the European Central Bank and the European taxpayer - including the British - to pay for their accrued debts and excessive welfare benefits?
    Phil Ryder

    The euro will bring about unprecedented advantages if we join when the economic situation is right, which is definitely not now. To persuade Britain to ditch the pound will be a very difficult job - almost as difficult as living permanently outside the euro. Economically adoption of the euro would fit in with the present Government's new classical methodology and would enhance the Thatcherite principles of free-markets and competition. Politically it is another step into the abyss of being ruled by a largely non-British EU in Brussels. I urge Britain to join in the future if we are to continue in the competitive market, but making Britain scrap the pound will be very difficult.
    Colin Lea, Leicester.

    Joining the euro would be a disaster. Britain should keep its sovereignty, with the right to set interest rates, without having to support inefficient continental economies. The alternative is the high unemployment seen in most of Europe.
    John Hedges

    No one can be sure how it will work until it has been up and running for some time. However, the principles have already been decided. It would have been important for the UK to have a debate when we could still have influenced how the Euro will work. It is too late now to argue about the benefits or not. The forthcoming referendum (whenever it will take place) ought to have taken place before the last election when France, Denmark, Ireland held referenda on the Euro and the TEU. If the Euro fails, the UK too will have to face the consequences, perhaps civil unrest in continental Europe and a European-wide recession. If the Euro is strong, the UK will be forced to join and the referendum result will be decided not by the British people but by the sucess or failure of this new project.
    Richard Freedman, East Sussex

    Paul Sykes is right. The single currency means the end of democracy in Britain. It was extraordinary that the pannel, apart from Paul Sykes, all thought it was "indefensible" to have parliaments laws reviewed and revised by unelected Bristish peers, but found it perfectly normal to allow a European court to tell us what should be our homosexual age of consent!
    Tony Woodcock

    After adopting the Euro and then seeing its control ceded to partisan central European politicians, the British electorate will start to realise how much influence they will have lost in the running of their own affairs. A proper free and fair election on the real issue of sovereignty transference should be held along with an explanation of how regional democratic rights will be protected.
    Andy Wales

    The British people have never been asked if we wish our country to be a part of a Federal European super state, yet every day we are told of more and more EU laws and regulations that will override our ancient rights. Our birth right of freedom is being given away. Our treasured democracy is being stolen from us. A new single European law is being brought into action and threatens the very freedoms we all take for granted.Yet those at Westminster remain silent. They are silent about a single European tax, that will increase the burden on the working man They are silent about a single European interest rate, that will increase the burden on businesses and homeowners. They are silent about a single European VAT system that will put VAT on food and childrens clothes. It is time for us to unite and speak with one voice and say no to the EU.
    Angus Fraser

    Since our entry into Europe we have lost our steel, coal, fishing and other industries. All to create work in the new federal Europe. Once we get our country back those traitors who sold us out will be charged with treason.
    Paul Morris, South Wales

    You cannot posibly accept the euro without accepting the taxation mechanisms to run it. It is time that all politicians told the truth. We have nothing to gain by joining the euro and everything to lose. Good luck to Paul Sykes and his Democratic Movement.
    Ron Banks

    Our grandfathers stood up to a single Europe. We would betray them if we agreed to the single currency. What we will hear is how workers in France earn 7.5 % more than the English for driving a train and farmers in Britain earning less than the Germans for selling their meat. Bureaucracy doesn't work and the results will cause riots all around Europe. Blair has recently carved up Britain into component parts and yet we are talking about joining something, which will create the largest and most powerful state in the world. We are a country of 65 million people and as such we buy a lot of European goods. We will always have a powerful part to play in Europe without agreeing to become part of its bureaucracy. Next time Europe falls into recession, Britain will too. We survived the last round of European recession when France and Germany fell victim. Next time, we won't be so lucky. We will have no control. Brussels will.
    S. Mitchell

    Paul Sykes finally said in front of a large audience what our politicians have been refusing to admit to us for decades. The agenda of the EU is to create a single country with a bureaucratic centralized government in which the democratic institutions of the nations of Europe are marginalised. This has always been the plan, and EMU is just one of the building blocks of it. Mr Sykes also did a service by reminding us that we have the 5th biggest economy on the planet. To suggest that we can't survive, or thrive even, without throwing our lot in with Brussels is pure fiction. In fact, freeing us from the dead hand of EU bureaucracy might be exactly what is needed. In response, we had the usual tired twaddle from Lady Maddock about the UK suffering because of being on the sidelines of Europe. It's time we faced up to what's going on and started making plans for life outside the EU.
    Austin Spreadbury, Middlesex

    The rest of the world is getting ready for the Euro. Surely it is time we faced reality.
    Bruce Beale, Yiewsley, UK

    I am firmly in favour of the UK government adopting the euro. If we stay out, I fear that many large companies will re-locate to the Continent. Interest rates have historically been lower on the Continent, and thus mortgage costs will be less. These two factors alone are powerful incentives for working class people to vote for joining the euro; better job security and cheaper motgages. We are already at a disadvantage geographically with the rest of Europe because of the Channel - communication is not as easy as it is on the European mainland. Let's not increase our disadvantages by staying remote from where our markets are in a monetary sense. Most of the opposition to the euro comes from politicians. I question whether their opposition is well founded, or whether they fear the loss of individual power.
    Andrew Hext

    Acceptance of the euro, which seems almost certain under the present government, is just another step down the rapidly steepening slope to full European federalism.
    Bruce Plowman

    During his Governorship in Hong Kong, Chris Patten made himself very unpopular with Beijing's leaders because he strongly wholeheartefly and vociferously supported democracy - meaning that the Hong Kong Chinese people should have a democratic vote on who should govern locally after the handover to mainland China. How is it possible, therefore, that Patten now supports a wholly undemocratic European Union and single currency, where the citizens of Britain will have no say at all in the economic and eventually political decisions taken for them?
    Monima Siddique

    Losing our national sovereignty is a very bad idea. We must not join the single currency. We should take this opportunity to become a great nation state again. We have the potential to do it, and another thing working in our favour is that we still have Europe's financial capital. We can succeed if we rebuild our manufacturing and strive to stay ahead in the areas where we already lead.
    Al Stevens, Bristol, UK

    Britain should withdraw from the European Union before we completely lose our nationality. Churchill said "we are with Europe, not of Europe".
    Dr Peter Willmot

    Being in the EU destroys our freedom, independence and democratic rights. If WE want to change the age of consent WE should decide, not a court in a foreign country. If WE want to tax food and new houses, WE should decide and not do so because we are told to by a foreign, unelected bureaucratic elite. This is called democracy and is what our forefathers died for.
    Rodney Howlett, Bucks

    When our children and grandchildren find they are being ruled from Europe they will never forgive us and they will FIGHT for their freedom to be independent once again. In a Federal Europe affairs will be arranged in the interests of the majority. Britain will always be in a minority.
    Peter Green

    As a member of the audience said, we now have to choose between a single country called Europe or an independent Britain. If we accept the euro, political union will follow as sure as night follows day. Do you want to be run by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels or by elected Members of Parliament?
    Richard Wright

    All the arguments we hear from politicians in favour of joining the EMU are economic. There are greater issues at stake. That is the point that Paul Sykes was making. We would prefer to be free and poor than dominated by a non-democratic bureaucracy.
    Raye Green

    The problem with the single currency is that there is no real debate. Politicians of all parties just turn it into a party political slagging match.
    Niall Pemberton

    I am a farmer, and my income is inextricably entangled with the EMU. I find it easier to trust Europe than any British government, after the events of the last few years. I hope Nick Brown does better than his predecessors, of both parties, but he, and I, are at the mercy of currency speculators now.
    David Bell

    Every time Europe is mentioned you hear the same comments over and over again. Isn't it about time that the government told everyone exactly what the implications would be of joining the EMU and becoming a fully active member of the EU?
    Stephen Alger

    Entry into a federal state of Europe is not irreversible. Scotland has been in an incorporating union for the last 291 years and is now in the process of withdrawing from that union. The fact that we resent paying commission to the banks to change our hard earned Sterling into Francs or Marks, is purely coincidental.
    Alex Burgon Lyon

    Whilst I support all moves to improve our trade links with Europe, I am strongly opposed to the way the traitors who have governed us over the last 30 years have deliberately lied to the British people over the true aims of the European Project. No unelected bureaucrat in Brussels should be able tell us how to live, make our laws or have any say in the way we run our country.
    Paul Stratton

    The Euro will be the cause of the final identification of Europe as a nation - the catalyst for a civil war. Chris Patten, another Eurolover will give away the sovereignty of the UK but why should he care? The concept of freedom didn't bother him in Hong Kong. The sooner the UK is OUT of the EU the better.
    Peter Watson

    I think that one currency is a jolly good idea as then when you cross over borders you don't have to repeatedly change money and one currency should be strong eg like the Pound Sterling is at present.
    Janet Steers

    We have already given away control of far too much. It is the thin end of the wedge of further integration.
    Oliver Wade

    We should have been joining the euro from the start. It's silly that we're always the last ones in when we should be leading, not following through necessity.
    Matt Moran

    For Heaven's sake! Since everyone who matters in Europe is going over to the Euro, we are going to HAVE to do the same in the end. The days of little local currencies are (hopefully) over. They are too unstable, too unpredictable and no longer relevant. Can't we just get on and LEAD for a change, rather than being dragged unwillingly to do later what everyone else is going to do now? In around 15 months time we'll be in the 21st century!
    Harry Collier

    To be out of the euro is to be out of touch with the rest of the world and its economics.
    Byron Cassell

    Britain's history of involvement of every European project has always involved three steps:
    1. "Wait and see"
    2. Let others make the important decisions
    3. Realise that it is in Britain's interest, at which time it is too late to shape the project in a way more beneficial to the UK.
    Is it not time for Britain to look at the mistakes it has made throughout the history of the European Community and say, "we're in from the start"?
    Joe McNamee, Brussels

    Former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet

    Audience question: "Does the panel agree that the Home Secretary should act quickly and decisively and give his consent to the extradition of General Pinochet?"

    Nigella Lawson said: "It would be a shameful day if he decided to get out the red carpet and jet and send General Pinochet back to Chile."

    Chris Patten said: "It raises all sorts of issues about what happens for example, if after he's retired friends of the Sudanese government try to get President Clinton on a foreign visit extradited for what happened in Sudan not very long ago. There are all sorts of problems that people haven't thought through...I think it's in Chile that he should go through the courts."

    Baroness Maddock said: "On balance I would uphold what the law lords have said...We cannot allow people to get away with things just because they are a head of state."

    Paul Sykes said: "This is going to open up a whole bag of worms. You're going to run around the globe arresting people left right and centre ... This is going to start all disturbances, trade is going to start to fall to pieces."

    You said:

    I feel that Jack Straw should set a precedent to the world and say that the world wil not stand for evil dictators such as Genereal Pinochet.
    Simon Hanson

    He is most certainly too evil a man to let out of the grips of probably the only authority who can gain some justice for the people whom he has given so much grief and suffering.
    William Miller

    Pinochet should be sent for trial to Spain - there can be no compassion for a man guilty of such crimes whatever his age or health.
    Niall Pemberton

    It would be interesting to know, following the ruling of the Law Lords, whether or not the Irish government would be justified in detaining a British PM under the justification that Britain has been found guilty in the past of human rights abuses in Northern Ireland.
    Ian Duffy

    General comments on the programme

    My reaction to QT is overwhelming praise for Chris Patten: his considered responses on, for example the Euro and Human Rights re Chile and China. I look forward to his presence in parliament after the next election to provide some intellectual and positive opposition to the present government.
    Mr G S Wills

    Again there are no people on Question Time with left views. I think this is deliberate because the BBC do not want real alternatives put before people. Last week you had the person on from a pop group, he seemed an intelligent person but he had difficulty expressing himself. You need someone from the radical left to balance your approach. You seem to have no problem finding people from the radical right. Why is this?
    Andrew Birchall

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