Page last updated at 10:27 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 11:27 UK

The London panel

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme comes from London on Thursday 15 April.

The panel includes the Energy Secretary Ed Miliband, the shadow schools secretary Michael Gove, the Liberal Democrats' schools spokesman David Laws, UKIP's Nigel Farage, the director of the human rights organisation Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti and the broadcaster John Sergeant.

This week's Question Time will be broadcast live so that both the audience and panel are able to watch the TV prime ministerial debates earlier in the evening on ITV1, featuring Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, and are able to comment on that.

The same applies for the two following Thursdays when the election debates move to Sky and then to the BBC.

The programme is normally recorded earlier in the evening as explained in this information page about the programme.


Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband is the secretary of state for energy and climate change. He is one of the prime minister's closest political allies and was responsible for writing Labour's 2010 election manifesto.

After a brief career in television journalism, he became a speechwriter and researcher for Harriet Harman in 1993, and then for the then shadow chancellor Gordon Brown the following year.

He later became chair of the Treasury's council of economic advisers, assisting Gordon Brown in the development of long-term economic policy. In 2005 he was elected the Labour MP for Doncaster North.

He is the younger brother of David Miliband, the foreign secretary and, like his brother, is often spoken of as a potential future leader of the Labour Party.

Of the manifesto, he says it "has a big argument at its heart" about how markets and government will be reformed under Labour.


Michael Gove

Michael Gove is the shadow secretary of state for children, schools and families. He is often named as one of the key members of David Cameron's political "inner circle"

After leaving Oxford, he worked as a journalist for local and national newspapers, radio and TV, including stints on the Today programme and On the Record.

In 1996 he joined The Times and has been comment editor, news editor, Saturday editor and assistant editor. He became the MP for Surrey Heath in 2005.

When discussing Labour's manifesto this week he said: "In all these areas where urgent action is needed, Labour is either empty, silent or misleading. We've had 13 years of broken promises and nothing ever changes."

He said the Tory manifesto contained "policies that demonstrate the energy, the leadership and the values needed to bring about change, to get our economy moving, to mend our broken society and crucially to rebuild trust in our broken political system".


David Laws

David Laws is the Liberal Democrat spokesman for children, schools and families.

After graduating from Cambridge, he became managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd.

In 1994 he started working for the Liberal Democrats and took up Paddy Ashdown's Yeovil seat in 2001. He supported Clegg's leadership bid and became schools spokesman in 2007.

He claims he was approached by the Tories in 2008 to join their front bench team but said this week that he was "right to turn down the Tories when I had the opportunity two years ago".

Laws also said this week that he has been playing David Cameron in rehearsals with Nick Clegg for the Prime Ministerial debates.

He remarked, "That has been quite difficult due to how quickly the Tories have been changing their economic policies. I've had to be re-briefed every day."


Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage is the UKIP MEP for the South East and a prospective parliamentary candidate for Buckingham.

He was active in the Conservative party from his schooldays but left the party in 1992 when Major's government signed the Treaty on European Union at Maastricht.

He was a founding member of UKIP in 1993 and was elected to the European Parliament in 1999 and re-elected in 2004.

He became leader of the party in September 2006 and remained in the post until September 2009 when he announced his intention to stand against Speaker John Bercow at the general election.

He recently caused controversy after he verbally attacked the European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, saying he had "all the charisma of a damp rag".

Farage said this week at a speech in Buckingham: "I would be a good constituency MP because I don't take no for an answer and, as you have seen, I'm not especially terrified of authority."

He went on to encourage the electorate to oust Speaker Bercow saying "go on, I dare you, let's cause an earthquake in Westminster politics".


Shami Chakrabarti

Shami Chakrabarti is the director of Liberty, the human rights organisation which works to defend and extend rights and freedoms.

After graduating from the LSE with a degree in law, she worked as a barrister at the Home Office before joining Liberty in September 2001.

She was shortlisted in the Channel 4 Political Awards 2006 for the "Most Inspiring Political Figure" award coming second to Jamie Oliver but beating Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Galloway and Bob Geldof.

On DNA retention, she has recently said: "Election fever seems to be confusing the debate about DNA retention. It has been suggested that the tragic case of Sally Anne Bowman was only solved because her murderer was 'an innocent' on the database.

"In fact, he was arrested for a separate violent offence and it was then that his DNA was matched to the crime scene.

"We all agree that DNA taken on arrest should be checked against unsolved crimes. This is entirely different from stockpiling the DNA of innocent men, women and children for years on end."


John Sergeant

John Sergeant is a television and radio journalist and broadcaster.

He is one of the country's leading political commentators, having been the BBC's chief political correspondent and the political editor of ITN.

He increased his fame by appearing on Strictly Come Dancing last year and is currently a reporter for The One Show.

Discussing reporting during general elections, he has said: "It's harder than normal reporting. You've got to consider the effect of what you're saying - you've got to signal to people that we are being fair and that can sometimes make it more boring."

Question Time will be on BBC One at 10.45pm on Thursday 15 April and available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.

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