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Question Time



Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 12:59 GMT
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, will be in London on Thursday 13 December.

On the panel are the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears, the senior Conservative politician and last British governor of Hong Kong Lord Patten, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy, the former editor of the Mirror newspaper Piers Morgan and the television presenter Kirstie Allsopp.


Hazel Blears MP

Career: Hazel Blears is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

She has been the Labour MP for Salford since 1997, and was promoted to the cabinet last May, becoming Labour Party Chairman.

She worked as a solicitor before her election to parliament, going on to take up a post in the Home Office with responsibility for crime and security under Charles Clarke.

In June she faced five of her colleagues in the race for Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party, which was won by Harriet Harman.

In the past she has been seen as close to Tony Blair, but dismissed speculation over a clash of loyalties, saying in February: "I've been loyal to the PM for 10 years. When we get a new Labour prime minister, then I will be loyal to our new prime minister and then I'll be called a Brownite loyalist."


Lord Patten

Career: Chris Patten is a senior Conservative politician and was the last British governor of Hong Kong.

He entered politics through the Conservative Research Department, becoming its youngest ever director in 1974.

He was elected an MP for Bath in 1979, a seat he held until April 1992.

During his time in government, he held a number of key posts, including Environment Secretary and Conservative Chairman, and played a key role in John Major's 1992 election victory.

He was appointed governor of Hong Kong in 1992, and famously oversaw the return of the territory to China.

From 1999 to 2004, he served as European Commissioner for External Affairs. He is currently the chancellor of Oxford University.


Charles Kennedy MP

Career: Charles Kennedy is the former leader of the Liberal Democrats.

In early 2003 he led his party in a forthright opposition to the invasion of Iraq that saw him address crowds at anti-war demonstrations during the build up to the conflict.

He wrote at the time: "There is genuine public perception that we are being bulldozed into a war not of our choosing and not - on the basis of the evidence so far - vital to national interests."

He resigned the leadership of the Liberal Democrats last January after admitting he had a drink problem.

During his tenure, the party had their most successful election performance for 80 years when they returned 63 MPs in May 2005.

He ruled himself out of a return to the Lib Dem leadership in the wake of the resignation of Sir Menzies Campbell this autumn.


Piers Morgan

Career: At 29, Piers Morgan was made editor of the News of the World newspaper.

He then embarked on a high-profile editorship of the Mirror during which the paper became a vociferous opponent of the Iraq war.

He was sacked from the job after publishing photos of the abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers which were shown to be fake.

He later said: "I didn't mind losing my job. Maybe Tony Blair or one of the cabinet will have the good grace, after 100,000 Iraqis died, to lose their job."

Since leaving the Mirror, he has become a well-known television personality, appearing as a judge on both America's Got Talent and Britain's Got Talent.

He also presents You Can't Fire Me, I'm Famous, and writes a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday.


Kirstie Allsopp

Career: Kirstie Allsopp is a TV presenter best known for the Channel 4 property programme Location, Location, Location.

In October she was asked by David Cameron to head a review of home buying, working alongside the Conservative shadow housing minister to create policies that could help first-time buyers.

This has led media commentators to refer to as the "Tory housing tsar".

The daughter of Baron Hindlip, the former chairman of Christies, she initially embarked on a career in journalism as a writer for Country Life magazine. She now says: "I don't think there is a more important issue out there than housing... So many of people's hopes and dreams rely on having a roof over their heads."

She has campaigned against the government's introduction of Home Information Packs and says she feels "passionate about the struggle of first-time buyers."

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