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Question Time



Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 23:40 GMT
Burton Upon Trent Q & A
Geoff Hoon
Geoff Hoon MP
Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP
Rageh Omaar
Lady Meyer
Jan Berry

Following the programme from Burton Upon Trent on 9 November, we wanted to know what questions you had for Geoff Hoon or any member of the Question Time panel

What was your reaction to their views, thoughts and opinions?

Below are a selection of the responses received so far.

Geoff Hoon replies:

Q: Is the UK a more dangerous place since the start of the Iraq war? Chris Metcalfe, Beckenham

A: In terms of international terrorism, the UK faced a threat before the Iraq war and it still does. The atrocity on September 11 took place before the intervention in Iraq.

There is a school of thought that if you give in to terrorists or leave them alone then they will somehow leave us alone. I fundamentally disagree with this view.

If we were to leave Iraq and Afghanistan to the terrorists then we would feel the consequences domestically in a very short space of time.

Q: Is it going to be possible [for the UK and US] to talk to Iran and Syria about peace in Iraq, which they are trying to engineer into a democratic state, when both Syria and Iran are non-democratic? Oliver Kimmer, Brighton

A: There has been no change of policy. The British Government has long been encouraging Iran and Syria to engage positively with Iraq.

It is vital that the international community, especially Iraq's neighbours, supports Iraq as it consolidates security and democracy. Ultimately, a stable and prosperous Iraq is in the best interests of both countries.

Q: If the Prime Minister can give advice to and be questioned by the US Baker Report this week, why will he not agree to an inquiry into the Iraq war as debated in the commons recently? Anthony Griffith, London

A: The Prime Minister has made clear the government's position regarding an inquiry into the history of the Iraq war. Now is not the time for such discussions.

There have already been two Parliamentary Committee reports on Iraq.

The Foreign Affairs Committee on the Decision to go to war in Iraq and the Intelligence and Security Committee on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction - Intelligence and Assessments. There have also been two independent reports: The Hutton Inquiry and the Butler Review.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind replies:

Q: Do you think that the Conservatives' latest policy on immigration would ease racial tensions? Lynn Taylor, Dudley, West Midlands

A: The Conservative policy on immigration is formulated with a number of factors in mind, community cohesion being one of them. One of the ways in which we want to build public confidence in the system is by making immigration policy more socially responsible.

There are greater tensions within community relations today than we have seen for a long time. In this context, it is more important than ever that we get immigration policy right.

There is no doubt at all that Britain benefits from immigration. The problem is that we don't benefit from any or all immigration. Ensuring that we don't exacerbate tension between communities is a vital component of our policy.

Q: How will the results of the US midterm elections affect the British political scene? Robert Duckham, Maryland, USA

A: Only time will really tell! One thing we can say though, is that the US midterm elections will result in the forging of a new approach in Washington to Iraq.

Britain needs to make a contribution to the shaping of that new approach. This will require engaging with the new America that is evolving. Whether Tony Blair carries much credibility in the new American Congress is another matter.

In this country, Iraq is associated with one man, and one man alone - Tony Blair. The elections and the wide-ranging debate on Iraq that is ongoing in Washington emphasises the need in this country for the British Parliament to be able to examine and scrutinise the Prime Minister's strategy for dealing with the disaster in Iraq.

The vigour of American democracy, as demonstrated in the past week, is putting our system to shame!

More responses to follow.

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