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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 11:53 GMT
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Slough on 17 February.

He was joined for the interactive debate by Diane Abbott MP, Nicholas Soames MP, John Thurso MP, journalist Johann Hari and UN Goodwill Ambassador Heather Mills McCartney.

Diane Abbott MP
DIANE ABBOTT MP

Title: Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Career: Diane Abbott entered Parliament in 1987 as the UK's first black female MP.

She publicly criticised David Blunkett for remaining as home secretary while pursuing his court battle with his ex-lover Kimberly Quinn, and correctly predicted he would have to resign.

Diane Abbott also regularly appears as a political commentator on BBC One's This Week, alongside Conservative MP Michael Portillo.


Nicholas Soames MP
NICHOLAS SOAMES MP

Title: Shadow Defence Secretary

Career: A close friend of the Prince of Wales, Nicholas Soames was "absolutely delighted" to hear of the Prince's engagement.

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The former army officer has criticised the government's defence cuts, saying the Conservatives would increase spending. He served as minister for the armed forces under John Major.

The old Etonian has a distinguished family background. His grandfather is Sir Winston Churchill and his father, Christopher Soames, was governor of Rhodesia and leader of the House of Lords.


John Thurso MP
JOHN THURSO MP

Title: Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs and Transport Spokesman

Career: John Thurso made constitutional history as the first hereditary peer to sit in the House of Commons.

As Viscount Thurso, he was front bench Lib Dem spokesman on tourism and food in the Lords before voting for his own expulsion from the upper chamber and refusing a life peerage.

Mr Thurso has criticised the government for not doing enough to tackle drink-driving. He is MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, a seat previously held by his grandfather for 30 years.


Johann Hari
JOHANN HARI

Title: Journalist

Career: Johann Hari is a columnist for the Independent newspaper, and writes regularly for the gay magazine Attitude and the New Statesman.

Aged just 25, he has already written his first book, God Save the Queen?, a critique of the monarchy, and written a play, Going Down in History, which won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival.

In 2003 he was named Young Journalist of the Year by the Press Gazette awards. A Cambridge graduate, he was also the Times Student Journalist of the Year in 2000.


Heather Mills McCartney
HEATHER MILLS McCARTNEY

Title: UN Goodwill Ambassador

Career: Heather has spent 11 years campaigning to rid the world of land mines and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1996.

A former model, Heather Mills McCartney threw herself into the media spotlight by inviting journalists to her bedside after losing part of a leg in a road accident in 1993.

Her husband, Sir Paul McCartney recently accused the press of "spiteful" treatment of his wife since they wed in 2002.


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



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