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Question Time



Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 16:58 GMT
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Liverpool on Thursday 7 February.

The panel included the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham, the Conservative shadow secretary of State for work and pensions Chris Grayling, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on communities and local government Julia Goldsworthy, the director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti and entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne from BBC Two's Dragons' Den .


Andy Burnham
Andy Burnham is the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Career: He joined the Labour Party aged 14 and was elected as MP for Leigh in June 2001. Before being elected to Parliament in June 2001, he worked as a researcher for Tessa Jowell and at the NHS Confederation.

He served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury from June 2007, as part of Gordon Brown's first Cabinet. Before that, he was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality from 2005 to 2006. He was promoted to Culture Secretary in last month's reshuffle following Peter Hain's resignation.

He was born in Warrington and is an avid supporter of Everton Football Club.


Chris Grayling MP

Career: Chris Grayling is the Conservative shadow secretary of state for work and pensions.

He worked as a BBC Producer before entering politics as a councillor in 1998.

He was elected to parliament as the MP for Epsom and Ewell in 2001, and joined the Opposition Whips' Office in 2002. He was promoted to the shadow cabinet by Michael Howard in 2005, becoming the shadow leader of the House of Commons.

When David Cameron took over in December 2005, he became shadow transport secretary, and has been shadow work and pensions secretary since June 2007.

In October 2005, he famously wrote to Tony Blair calling for an inquiry into the business interests of then Work and Pensions Secretary, David Blunkett, which led to the minister's resignation from government.

Earlier that year, he had also led criticism of Cherie Blair for embarking on a speaking tour in the US, accusing her of "making money in a way which is so clearly linked to [her husband's] duties as head of Government."


Julia Goldsworthy MP

Career: Julia Goldsworthy is the Liberal Democrat Spokesman on Communities and Local Government.

She began her political career after university, working as a researcher for Lib Dem MP Matthew Taylor.

Winning the seat of Falmouth and Camborne in the 2005 election, she became the youngest MP in the House of Commons, and was appointed a party spokesperson on health in the same year.

She remains the youngest member of the Liberal Democrat front bench. Last year, she competed in the Channel 4 series The Games, finishing as runner-up.


Shami Chakrabarti

Career: Shami Chakrabarti has been director of the human rights organisation Liberty since 2003.

She is one of the UK's most prominent voices on civil liberties, spearheading campaigns against proposals to extend detention periods and introduce ID cards.

A barrister by background, she was called to the Bar in 1994 and then joined the Home Office as a lawyer. Since becoming Liberty's director she has written for a number of newspapers, including The Guardian and The Telegraph, and appears regularly on television and radio.

She was made a CBE in the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours. Last week she was given the Campaigning and Public Life Award at the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Award.

Reacting to this week's revelation that a Labour MP was bugged, she called for an overhaul of the police surveillance system, saying: "Whatever happens this time, it's high time for simpler and stronger surveillance laws with warrants issued by judges, not policemen."


Duncan Bannatyne

Career: Duncan Bannatyne is one of the UK's leading entrepreneurs and star of BBC Two's Dragon's Den.

After leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, he briefly joined the navy and worked as an agricultural labourer before setting up a series of businesses that made him a multi-millionaire.

He is most famous for his chain of health clubs, as well as casinos, bars and hotels.

He has become a well-known television face since first appearing on Dragons' Den and says of his public profile: "Television has given me a voice in government that I didn't have and would never have got without it. I was recently discussing capital gains tax with Gordon Brown. Of course, he'll probably discuss it with 50 people and put all those opinions together, but it's great that I can be a part of that."

He was recently awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Glasgow Caledonian University for services to business and charity.

Duncan Bannatyne was a donor to the Labour Party under Tony Blair, but publicly announced that he would no longer financially support the party in December 2005, saying:

"Disunity in the Cabinet has a corrosive effect on the country. Gordon Brown is a great Chancellor who has delivered a stable economy, but business wants that to continue and not be blown off course by petty squabbles based on personal ambition."

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