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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
23 September 2004
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Borehamwood on 23 September. He was joined for the interactive debate by Peter Hain MP, Tim Collins MP, Simon Hughes MP, Richard Dreyfuss and Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Peter Hain

PETER HAIN MP

Title: Leader of the House of Commons and Welsh Secretary

Career: Last week's invasion of the Commons chamber by pro-hunt protesters prompted Mr Hain, as leader of the House, to speak out about its "antiquated" security arrangements.

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He described the House as "operating in a bygone age" and is now calling for a new director of security. He had already been considering new security measures after a purple flour bomb was thrown at the Prime Minister in May.

Brought up in South Africa, Peter Hain began his political career as a leading campaigner against the country's apartheid regime. An MP since 1991, he has been leader of the Commons since June 2003, a job he combines with his older post of Welsh Secretary.


Tim Collins

TIM COLLINS MP

Title: Shadow Education Secretary

Career: Tim Collins has developed a Conservative education policy based on the right to choose.

His education proposals include an extra 600,000 school places, aiming to give parents more choice, teachers more freedom and to allow the voluntary and private sector to provide state-funded education.

Tim Collins was promoted to the shadow cabinet in June. Before becoming Westmoreland and Lonsdale MP in 1997, he had served as an advisor to Michael Howard and was John Major's press secretary during the 1992 general election.


Simon Hughes

SIMON HUGHES MP

Title: President of the Liberal Democrats

Career: Simon Hughes has just been elected party president, a few months after his unsuccessful bid to become mayor of London.

He lost out to Charles Kennedy in the LibDem leadership election in 1999 and became the party's spokesman on home affairs, advocating his liberal views on issues such as penal reform and asylum policy.

Simon Hughes represents the inner London constituency of North Southwark and Bermondsey. He is an environmentalist and anti-nuclear campaigner, and also opposes both abortion and euthanasia.


Richard Dreyfuss

RICHARD DREYFUSS

Title: Actor

Career: American actor Richard Dreyfuss has criticised President Bush as "arrogant and incompetent" and blamed US Democrats for being slow to criticise the war in Iraq.

He made his name in blockbusters such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, American Graffiti and Jaws and at 29 was the youngest ever actor to win an Oscar, for The Goodbye Girl in 1977.

He pulled himself out of a subsequent 10-year drug addiction and will star in the West End alongside Lee Evans in Mel Brooks' award-winning show The Producers, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 9 November.


Julia Hartley-Brewer

JULIA HARTLEY-BREWER

Title: Sunday Express Political Editor

Career: Julia Hartley-Brewer has been the political editor of the Sunday Express since March 2001.

A graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, Julia Hartley-Brewer has also worked for The Guardian and Evening Standard as a political and news reporter.

As a broadcaster she makes regular appearances on the BBC, Sky, GMTV and Channel Five. She has also been a guest on Richard and Judy and Have I Got News For You.


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

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