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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 11:15 GMT
12 February 2004
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby is in Portsmouth on 12 February. The panel joining him for the interactive debate are Lord Hattersley, Ann Widdecombe MP, Lembit Opik MP, Toby Young and Shirley Conran.

Lord Hattersley

Title: Former Labour Deputy Leader

Career: Roy Hattersley once called for Labour MPs to "rise up" against Tony Blair, whom he accused of overthrowing Labour's old "legitimate philosophy".

He was a Labour MP for 33 years, serving as shadow home secretary and later as deputy leader of the party between 1983-92, before moving to the House of Lords five years later.

Lord Hattersley, who has spoken out against university top-up fees and the war in Iraq, has written many newspaper columns and is the author of a number of novels and political works.

Ann Widdecombe

Title: Former shadow home secretary

Career: Ann Widdecombe is attributed with destroying Michael Howard's 1997 leadership campaign by saying he had "something of the night about him".

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As shadow home secretary she called for zero tolerance on cannabis and for the return of the death penalty following the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Ms Widdecombe, who converted to Catholicism in protest over Anglican ordination of women, was interviewed by Louis Theroux as part of the BBC's "When Louis Met.." series, and has written several books.

Lembit Opik MP

Title: Liberal Democrat Wales and Northern Ireland spokesman

Career: The son of Estonian refugees, Lembit Opik was made Northern Ireland spokesman on entering the Commons in 1997.

The former Proctor and Gamble executive is part of the Middle Way Group, which is opposed to a complete ban on hunting, and campaigns for flood prevention measures and for research into asteroids that may strike Earth.

He has supported the Spinal Injuries Association since breaking his back in a paragliding accident in 1998. His partner, TV weather forecaster Sian Lloyd appeared on last year's "I'm a Celebrity..Get Me Out Of Here".

Toby Young

Title: Journalist and writer

Career: Toby Young's book "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People", that has been adapted for the stage, describes how he was sacked from Vanity Fair magazine in New York.

The co-founder of Modern Review magazine, which folded in the mid-90s, has written and spoken about cocaine use, claiming that "the entire country's blanketed in a blizzard of white powder".

He regularly contributes articles and columns to a variety of publications and frequently appears on television and radio debates.

Shirley Conran

Title: Writer and Work-Life Balance Trust President.

Career: Shirley Conran campaigns for a change in working patterns to allow people to better combine work with outside interests and family.

The former department of education and employment advisor has written several books, including the lifestyle guide Superwoman and the novel Lace, which was adapted into a television series.

Ms Conran, who was married to designer Sir Terence Conran, was a journalist before embarking on her book writing career, and has worked for the Observer, Daily Mail and Vanity Fair.

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


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