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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 October, 2004, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Poole on 7 October. He was joined for the interactive debate by Patricia Hewitt MP, David Cameron MP, Liberal Democrat candidate Jody Dunn, UKIP MEP Nigel Farage and columnist Matthew Parris.

Patricia Hewitt

PATRICIA HEWITT MP

Title: Trade and Industry Secretary and Minister for Women

Career: Patricia Hewitt has helped introduce new flexible working laws and increases in the minimum wage.

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At last week's party conference she also outlined controversial plans for longer paid maternity leave, higher paternity pay, and extending flexible working rights to carers, which have sparked fears among small businesses.

Ms Hewitt was promoted to the cabinet in 2001, four years after being elected MP for Leicester West. She had previously served as former Labour leader Neil Kinnock's policy co-ordinator, from 1983-89.


David Cameron

DAVID CAMERON MP

Title: Head of Conservative party policy co-ordination

Career: As head of party policy co-ordination, David Cameron will play a key part in preparing the party's election manifesto.

The 37-year-old has risen rapidly in the party ranks since becoming MP for Witney in 2001. He became a shadow minister in 2003, working in the Privy Council Office, as deputy party chairman and then as shadow local government minister. In September he was promoted to the shadow cabinet in his current role.

Before becoming an MP, he worked on the prime minister's questions briefing team for both Margaret Thatcher and John Major. His interests include criminal justice, the economy and disability issues.


Jody Dunn

JODY DUNN

Title: Family law barrister

Career: As Liberal Democrat candidate in the Hartlepool by-election, Jody Dunn narrowly failed to win the seat, finishing 2,000 votes behind Labour's Iain Wright.

She had to abandon her thank you speech to supporters at the Hartlepool count when purple powder was thrown over her in a Fathers 4 Justice stunt. She was targeted because of her profession, as a prominent local family law barrister in Middlesbrough.

She said: "It's ironic that more than once I stuck up for the plight of fathers denied access to their children, and yet it was me who was targeted." She says she will definitely be standing for the seat again at the next election.


Nigel Farage

NIGEL FARAGE MEP

Title: UKIP leader in the European Parliament

Career: Nigel Farage believes the UK Independence Party has lost sight of its key objective, to take Britain out of the EU, amid the euphoria over recent election results.

He says the loss of millionaire supporter Paul Sykes is a blow, and that the party should not be fighting against sitting Tory and Labour MPs "who are prepared to say the right things" about Europe. He has also rebuffed Robert Kilroy-Silk's leadership ambitions, saying there is no appetite for "any kind of internecine warfare".

Previously a Conservative activist, Mr Farage left the Tories when John Major signed the Maastricht Treaty. He became a founder member of UKIP when it was set up in 1993.


Matthew Parris

MATTHEW PARRIS

Title: Columnist

Career: Matthew Parris is a columnist for the Times and used to be the paper's parliamentary sketch writer.

Most of his early career was in politics. He was on the staff at Mrs Thatcher's office from 1977-79, and then MP for West Derbyshire. In 1986 he gave up his seat to present LWT's Weekend World, and is now a frequent television and radio broadcaster as well as contributor to various publications.

He has led several expeditions, including to Peru, which he wrote about in his first book, Inca-Kola, in 1990. Last year he brought out his autobiography, Chance Witness.


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

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