Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

This week's panel

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme comes from Weston-super-Mare this Thursday 12 November.

John Humphrys will be in the chair after David Dimbleby was hit by an animal on his farm. He is recovering well but will miss his first programme in 15 years.

The panel will include Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward, the Conservative shadow security minister Pauline Neville-Jones, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on communities and local government Julia Goldsworthy, the cultural commentator and writer Will Self and the rowing champion, double Olympic gold medallist, television presenter and writer James Cracknell.


SHAUN WOODWARD MP

Shaun Woodward MP

Shaun Woodward is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Having served as the Conservative's head of communications under John Major during the 1992 General Election, he entered Parliament as the Conservative MP for Witney in 1997 and went on to serve on the front bench under William Hague, before famously defecting to the Labour Party saying, "I am not leaving my party, my party has left me."

He was promoted to Gordon Brown's first cabinet in 2007, succeeding Peter Hain as Northern Ireland Secretary.

He is married to the supermarket heiress Camilla Sainsbury and does not claim his ministerial salary.

This summer it was widely reported that he was being brought into Gordon Brown's "inner circle" as a one of the Prime Minister's closest advisors in cabinet.

The Guardian wrote that he had been "drafted in to help Labour formulate a plan for attacking the Tory leader, David Cameron" and that "after working closely with Brown he had been in line for a promotion in last year's reshuffle until the situation in Northern Ireland was deemed too critical for him to leave."


DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones

Pauline Neville-Jones is the Conservative shadow security minister and David Cameron's adviser on national security. She was formerly the first woman to chair the Joint Intelligence Committee.

She was one of the most senior figures in the UK Diplomatic Service for over 30 years, working in a number of places, including Zimbabwe and Washington.

She was a governor of the BBC from 1998 to 2004 and was famously involved in the resignation of director general Greg Dyke following the publication of the Hutton Report.

Earlier this month it was reported that she had been asked by David Cameron to review the security arrangements for the 2012 London Olympics.

She is understood to be working with police and security authorities to ensure that counter-terrorism precautions are effective.


JULIA GOLDSWORTHY

Julia Goldsworthy MP

Julia Goldsworthy is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on communities and local government.

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.

In May she was forced to publicly defend her expenses claims, after the Telegraph revealed that she had part-claimed for a number of expensive items of furniture in the days before the deadline for claims.

She told the newspaper: "I claimed only reasonable costs for furnishings. There are a number of items - such as the [rocking] chair - where I did not claim the full cost. There were other items I did not claim at all."


WILL SELF

Will Self

Will Self is one of Britain's pre-eminent cultural commentators and writers. As well as writing novels, he regularly contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Independent, New Statesman, Prospect and The Evening Standard.

He also regularly appears on television shows such as Have I Got News For You and was a team captain on the comedy game show Shooting Stars.

This week he wrote in his column in the Evening Standard: "there are plenty of policy positions I'm happy to mock David Cameron for holding but his call for us all to 'hug a hoodie' isn't one of them. The problem of feral youth... is one of perception as much as reality: there's a different head under every hood, just as there's a different postie walking every route and a different policeman under every helmet."


JAMES CRACKNELL OBE

James Cracknell

James Cracknell is one of the most famous names in British sport - a rowing champion, double Olympic gold medallist, television presenter and writer.

He began rowing at school, and won a gold medal at the 1990 Junior World Championships. He is most famous for his part in the men's coxless fours team with Steve Redgrave, winning three World Championships and gold at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

He has since competed in a number of endurance events, such as the Atlantic Rowing Race 2005-2006 with television presenter Ben Fogle and last December competed with Fogle in the Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race - both were the subject of BBC documentaries.

He is a prolific presenter on ITV and Channel 4, and writes a column for the Daily Telegraph.



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