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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 17:32 GMT
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Coventry on Thursday 17 January.

The panel included the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the shadow defence secretary Liam Fox, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, the political editor of the Daily Mirror Kevin Maguire and the author Louise Bagshawe.

JACQUI SMITH MP

Jacqui Smith MP

Career: Jacqui Smith is the Home Secretary.

After 10 years as a teacher, she entered parliament in 1997 as the MP for Redditch.

She served as Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, and as a Minister of Schools in the Department of Education, before entering the Cabinet as Chief Whip in May 2007.

She was made Home Secretary by Gordon Brown in his first cabinet, and is the first woman ever to hold the post.

Last month she faced pressure from police over her refusal to backdate a 2.5% pay award. During the row, in which the Police Federation called for her resignation, she said: "I take seriously my responsibility to ensure that I put in place arrangements that are fair but also are affordable for the police service and the taxpayer."


LIAM FOX MP

Liam Fox MP

Career: Liam Fox is the Conservative shadow defence secretary, having previously been shadow foreign secretary.

A doctor by profession, he served as shadow secretary of state for health from May 1999 to November 2003, before being appointed co-chairman of the party in 2003. He ran for the party leadership in 2005, finishing third.

Last month he wrote in The Telegraph: "Anyone who has visited British troops in Afghanistan recently will know they understand, better than anyone, that soldiers can win the battles but that ultimately economics and politics will have to secure the peace. That is why a concerted approach to reconstruction and to the political situation is essential."


CHRIS HUHNE MP

Chris Huhne MP

Career: Chris Huhne is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs. He was previously the party's spokesman on the environment.

He has twice come second in the contest for the Lib Dem leadership, most recently in December when Nick Clegg took over, beating Chris Huhne by just 511 votes.

Before entering politics he worked in the City and has written a number of books on economic and development issues.

After five years as the MEP for South East England, he was elected as the MP for Eastleigh in 2005 and served as a shadow treasury spokesman under Charles Kennedy.


KEVIN MAGUIRE

Kevin Maguire

Career: Kevin Maguire is the political editor of the Daily Mirror and a columnist for the New Statesman.

One of the country's leading political commentators, he is seen as close to Gordon Brown, and was described in the Guardian as the "cheekiest and best informed [journalist] about Labour's politburo manoeuvres".

Formerly chief reporter on the Guardian, Maguire rejoined the Mirror in 2004, having quit in 1999. Last year he was nominated for political journalist of the year at the British Press Awards.

Last week he wrote: "The Premier has enjoyed a confident start to 2008, recovering some of his old authority with his ambitious NHS plans... Brown is in danger of appearing like a cabbage and broccoli leader - serving up to the public what he thinks is good for us, when we secretly yearn for the odd treat."


LOUISE BAGSHAWE

Louise Bagshawe

Career: Louise Bagshawe is a best-selling author who published her first novel, Career Girls, in her twenties. Now 36, she is due to be the Conservative Party candidate for Corby at the next election.

She joined the Conservative Party at the age of 14, and briefly switched to Labour under Tony Blair, later saying: "I never stopped being a Conservative; but I thought Blair was one too."

She was Young Poet of the Year in 1989 and worked in the record business before leaving aged 23 to write full-time. Since then, her novels have been published in nine languages.

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