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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 09:18 GMT
18 March 2004
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in London on 18 March. The panel joining him for the interactive debate were Harriet Harman MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Dr Vince Cable MP, Jeremy Clarkson and Nick Cohen.

Harriet Harman MP


Title: Solicitor General

Career: Harriet Harman entered the House of Commons in 1982 and has held several high-profile posts on the Labour front bench.

She joined Tony Blair's first cabinet in 1997 as social security secretary but was sacked a year later after controversy over cuts to benefits for lone parents and disabled people.

She was brought back into government after the last election and is the first woman to be appointed solicitor general.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Title: Former Foreign Secretary

Career: Sir Malcolm Rifkind was recently chosen to succeed Michael Portillo as candidate in the safe Conservative seat of Kensington and Chelsea.

He was in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet for four years as Scottish secretary from 1986 and served as defence and then foreign secretary under John Major before losing his Edinburgh seat in 1997.

Since leaving parliament, Sir Malcolm, a prominent euro-sceptic, has received a knighthood and acted as a business consultant to several British companies.

Dr Vincent Cable MP

Title: Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesman

Career: Vincent Cable fought parliamentary seats for the Labour Party and SDP before becoming the Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham in 1997.

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The former oil industry economist served as a special adviser to John Smith during the Callaghan administration and is one of the Liberal Democrats' strongest supporters of links with Labour.

Dr Cable has challenged the chancellor to allow an independent body to inspect the Treasury's books. He is opposed to state subsidies and supports Britain's entry into the single currency.

Jeremy Clarkson

Title: Broadcaster

Career: The BBC recently apologised to a parish council after Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson tested a pick-up truck by driving it into a 30-year-old tree in Somerset.

The outspoken presenter also caused a backlash following one of his programmes for saying Wales was the best place to test drive cars as "no-one wants to live there".

Clarkson, who writes for the Sun and Sunday Times, championed Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the BBC poll to find the nation's favourite Briton and has chaired an edition of the celebrity quiz Have I Got News For You.

Nick Cohen


Title: Observer columnist

Career: Nick Cohen is a critic of New Labour, accusing it of abandoning the party's traditional values.

His criticisms of capitalism, inequality and the political classes in general have been brought together in his book, Cruel Britannia.

Nick Cohen joined the Observer in 1996 having previously written for The Independent and Independent on Sunday.

BBC One's Question Time is broadcast this Thursday at 22:40 GMT.


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