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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 00:53 GMT
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme, was in Gateshead on Thursday, 16 March 2006.

David Dimbleby was joined for the interactive debate by Margaret Hodge MP, David Willetts MP, Baroness Tonge, playwright and actor Kwame Kwei-Armah, and the columnist and former Times editor Simon Jenkins.

Margaret Hodge MP

Title: Minister for Work

Career: Margaret Hodge is minister for work at the department for work and pensions.

She was appointed the first ever government minister for children in 2003, and has also held the post of education minister.

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Before entering the House of Commons Margaret Hodge was leader of Islington Council for 10 years. She became an MP in 1994.

David Willetts MP

Title: Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Career: David Willetts supported David Davis in the Conservative leadership election.

His previous role was as shadow trade and industry secretary. Shadow social security secretary under William Hague, David Willetts was also parliamentary private secretary to Norman Fowler, chairman of the Conservative Party from 1993 to 1994.

In 1996 he quit as paymaster general over the Neil Hamilton "cash for questions" affair.

Baroness Tonge

Title: Liberal Democrat Peer

Career: Now in the House of Lords, Dr Jenny Tonge stood down as a Liberal Democrat MP at the last general election.

As an MP she was sacked from the Liberal Democrat frontbench as the party's spokeswoman on children, over her controversial comments on suicide bombers.

Baroness Tonge is also a former Liberal Democrat spokesperson on international development.

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Title: Playwright and actor

Career: Kwame is starring in the film Fade to Black which is being released this summer.

From 1999 he played the paramedic Finlay Newton in BBC One's Casualty.

His play Elmina's Kitchen was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2003.

Simon Jenkins

Title: Commentator, The Guardian

Career: Simon Jenkins writes for The Guardian and has a column in The Sunday Times.

He started his career at Country Life and since then has edited both the Evening Standard and The Times.

Simon has written books on politics and on the history and architecture of London.

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


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