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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, will be in Stratford-upon-Avon on 31 May.

David Dimbleby was joined by senior Labour politician Lord Hattersley, Conservative shadow secretary of state for communities and local government Caroline Spelman, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Sarah Teather, well-known historian Simon Schama, and former director general of the BBC Greg Dyke.

LORD HATTERSLEY

Lord Hattersley

Career: Roy Hattersley is a senior Labour politician who held a number of key roles in the 1970s governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan.

From 1983-1987 he served as deputy leader and Shadow Chancellor under Neil Kinnock, helping to modernise the Labour Party.

However, he wrote after Tony Blair's election to a second term of government in 2001: "Now my party not only pursues policies with which I disagree, its whole programme is based on a principle that I reject. One thing is clear, I cannot retain both membership and self respect unless I make apparent that much of what the Labour Party now proposes is wrong."

In May 2006 he wrote of the grammar schools debate: "The survival of about 160 grammar schools - not all of which are the centres of excellence that their apologists claim - has a devastating effect on the whole area from which they select their pupils. To suggest that they can co-exist with comprehensive schools is clearly absurd. Every grammar school condemns the three or four secondary schools around it to the level of the old secondary moderns."


CAROLINE SPELMAN MP

Caroline Spelman

Career: Caroline Spelman is the Conservative shadow secretary of state for communities and local government.

Following a career as an agricultural consultant, she was elected to parliament in 1997 as the MP for Meriden in the Midlands, and was promoted to Iain Duncan Smith's shadow cabinet in 2001 as shadow international development secretary.

She has also served as shadow environment secretary and the party's spokesperson for women.

She recently accused her government counterpart, Ruth Kelly, of presiding over a "housing crisis" saying: "The young cannot get a foot on the housing ladder, homelessness is higher than under the last Tory government and the rate of house-building is down. When it comes to planning, this government will choose centralised bureaucracy over local democracy every time."


SARAH TEATHER MP

Sarah Teather

Career: Sarah Teather is the Liberal Democrat education spokesperson. She was first elected to parliament aged 29 at the 2003 Brent East by-election, becoming the youngest member of the House of Commons.

Before entering politics, she trained as a scientist and worked for Macmillan Cancer Care Relief, where she advised on health and social policy.

Following the resignation of Charles Kennedy, Sarah supported Menzies Campbell in his successful leadership election campaign and was promoted to the front bench earlier this year.

She recently accused the Tories of "displaying breathtaking inconsistency in their thinking on education," following their public debate about grammar schools.


SIMON SCHAMA

Simon Schama

Career: Simon Schama is a well-known historian, whose BBC series A History of Britain made him a household name.

He is professor of history and art history at Columbia University, and the author of a number of works on history and art including the historical novel Dead Certainties and a history of the French Revolution called Citizens. He has also been an art critic for the New Yorker magazine.

He has won numerous awards, including a Viewer Award for Best Television Series and two Broadcasting Press Guild awards. He was made a CBE in 2001.


GREG DYKE

Greg Dyke

Career: Greg Dyke is a former director general of the BBC.

He was appointed as director general of the BBC in 2000 and made headlines when he described the corporation as "hideously white". His most significant success at the BBC was the introduction of Freeview, a terrestrial digital platform which can now be accessed by half the population of the UK.

He resigned from the BBC in January 2004 following the Hutton Report. However, documents released in January 2007 suggested that he was reluctant to resign over the affair, and only did so on the insistence of the BBC governors.

A long-time supporter and donor to the Labour party, he switched his allegiance to the Liberal Democrats before the 2005 general election.

He has denied recent press reports that he is due to be the Conservative candidate for London Mayor, saying: "I was approached by the Conservatives and they asked if I would consider standing. I said no."




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