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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 18:00 GMT
November 9, London
You can join Question Time's internet debate by emailing your views on the topics discussed in the latest edition of the programme to:

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A recount in Florida?

Audience question: Is a Florida recount sufficient for the position at stake or do you think the state should re-ballot? You said:

I know the problems with having another election - country wide - but, why not? No more campaigning - just let the people decide. They know what a dire situation they're in. The people who care about democracy will vote. America has a bigger population than 10m - who's asleep out there?
Maureen O'Brien

On the question of the American election I believe the issue should go to the supreme court which would hopefully find in Gore's favour with the provision that the electoral system be overhauled to include proportional representation.
David Drane, Poole

Allegations of election rigging aside, I think there is a lesson here for us all in our readiness to accept unfounded news items from the mass media. It may be the information age, but it is not unfortunately the "factual" age. I have to say that Bush seems to have had a steadier nerve when dealing with the crystal ball gazers in the US TV networks.
Dominic Dinardo, London

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Grounds for protest?

Audience question: With concessions to pensioners and the fuel protesters has Gordon Brown consigned the Tory party to another five years in opposition? You said:

How can Labour justify penalising the poorer sections of the community, like pensioners, the low paid and those who live in the countryside? You spend millions on the dome failing to close tax loopholes which benefit Labour backers, and spend more on the apparatus of government than ever before. I voted for you at the last election, I will never vote for you again.
Dave, Welshpool

Once again the government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. All this about cutting fuel tax by Gordon Brown is rubbish, especially when it comes to the average person living in the remote areas of the UK. A cut of tax in a fuel that we can't buy! A reduction in road tax for cars that don't have engines big enough to get you up the hills!
John Moore, Inverness

I've heard about the New Labour link between petrol tax and the need to spend money on public services. I've also heard about how we have to tax fuel for the sake of the environment. There seems to be a contradiction here - surely if we all stop buying petrol there won't be the tax revenue for public services.
Dominic Dinardo, London

I have been very impressed with Gordon Brown as chancellor but am very concerned about the pre-election budget. Is it the privilege of the ruling party to announce a bonanza budget before an election or is there a danger of playing fast and loose with the economy? I submit that this has put Britain into a false economic cycle in the past to the huge detriment of the country as a whole.
Noel Lock, Bath

OK, so lorry owners are slightly better off, but an average reduction of 715 in road tax is nothing when you consider the amount of fuel it takes to fill the average lorry's tank.
John Moore, Inverness

I've heard about the New Labour link between petrol tax and the need to spend money on public services. I've also heard about how we have to tax fuel for the sake of the environment. There seems to be a contradiction here - surely if we all stop buying petrol there won't be the tax revenue for public services.
Dominic Dinardo, London

I have been very impressed with Gordon Brown as chancellor but am very concerned about the pre-election budget. Is it the privilege of the ruling party to announce a bonanza budget before an election or is there a danger of playing fast and loose with the economy? I submit that this has put Britain into a false economic cycle in the past to the huge detriment of the country as a whole.
Noel Lock, Bath

To Rob Dickson of Slough. The floods affecting York this week were the worst in 270 years. Therefore, over 270 years ago, we had worse rainfall than that experienced now. Was global warming responsible then? Methinks not.
Peter Howson, Sheffield

People are facing serious hardship trying to get from A to B because they can no longer afford petrol and the cost of motoring. Doesn't the railways situation prove my point? Public transport is in tatters and the government has the cheek to tax us at one of the highest rates on this planet!
Adam, Abergavenny

Fair enough, our fuel taxes are higher than in other European countries. But I am sure the public and farmers would soon be complaining if we paid the average amount of tax paid per person in those countries - nor do we pay tolls for motorways. Also to be considered, when are we going to accept that the environment is an important issue not to be ignored?
Claire Turner, Leicester

I am fed up with hearing that it was a Tory chancellor who introduced the fuel escalator. We get told this almost every week so the real question must be, if the fuel escalator is so abhorrent then why did Labour continue its existence?
Steve Vickery, Basingstoke

I think Gordon Brown's give away is a step in the right direction, but the duty freeze next year should be a duty cut each year (a downward escalator) to bring prices into line with Europe. The 55 discount on car tax disc is welcome, but abolishing it would have been better. New labour (contrary to the views of Diane Abbott) are not worthy of being re-elected.
Tim Norris, Maidstone

Fuel tax versus environment? The government claims a link but cannot demonstrate one. Tax on essentials is an easy revenue. When will the country wake up and realise that any increase in the surplus residing in the chancellor's so called 'war chest' is precisely the figure the ordinary taxpayer has been overtaxed by!
Keith P Barnes, Oxford

Congratulations to Diane Abbott. She is the first person that I have heard so far to point out that increased car use is one of the contributing factors to global warming which is widely believed to have contributed to the floods of recent weeks.
Rob Dickson, Slough

I find Francis Maude's attitude to the chancellor's pre-budget statement particularly galling and object to his apparent assumption that as a member of the electorate I cannot remember anything that happened more than three years ago. If the Tories seriously intend to get re-elected then I suggest they accept that 15 years of running up an overdraft might just require the current level of taxation to pay it off!
Tom Notman, Telford

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Does it pay to protest?

Audience question: Following the chancellor's pre-budget statement does it pay to protest? You said:

It was obvious that it did pay off eventually. But did the protesters really have any idea what a knock-on affect it had on the nation? Did they not realise the risk they put our emergency services into?
Joanne Meskill, Middlesbrough

The significance of the recent fuel protests is really nothing to do with fuel or any of the issues discussed in connection with it. These fuel protests were an imitation of the French fuel protests of earlier in the year.
Matthew Kirk, Derby

Support the fuel protesters next week, 85p a litre is a scandal. The government should reduce tax by at least 5p (if not more), I am an ordinary hard-working individual who is on a fairly low income but to get to work I spend 200 per month. Only a few motorists that probably do very few miles will benefit from the changes announced yesterday.
Mr Barthorpe, Warwickshire

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Should it be easier for sex shops to open?

Audience question: Is the British Board of Film Classification correct in calling for local councils to make it easier for sex shops to open? You said:

You said:

I could not believe the panellists' answers to the question over making it easier to have sex shops in our towns and cities. I found their remarks to be far too casual. They were obviously dodging the issue. In a country with so many sex offenders, so much child sex abuse, rape and sexual diseases, to make sex shop licences easier to gain, will only further add to our growing lack of sexual morality.
Gareth Lewis, Northampton

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The dome - daylight robbery?

Audience question: With 600m taken from lottery funds this must surely be considered as the biggest robbery of all. Why is nobody taking responsibility for the dome? You said:

I feel that the millennium dome, despite all its problems, can still be a great asset to the country as a whole. All of the money spent will go straight back into the economy and unlike welfare handouts we have something to show for it. Even though the contents of the dome may have failed to draw the crowds the building is still a great engineering success.
Jolyon Latchmore, Sheffield

I would like to comment on what was said regarding the dome. Both the Conservative and Labour parties were blamed. The Conservatives certainly did initiate it, but they were not responsible for what it eventually contained.
Adrienne Franklin, Bristol

I watched Falconer's response to the chaos resulting in all the VIPs being stranded like mere mortals on a station platform, and I quote: 'It was only a one off'. Surely before taking on such a project, someone should have explained to his lordship that for most sentient beings the celebration of the passing of a millennium is highly likely to be a one off event.
Robert Cooper, Walsall

I'd just like to say that the dome is the best. The guests should experience it for themselves before passing comment on how much of a financial failure it really is. In short I found it one of the most enjoyable days out I have had in a long time.
Steve Mills, Stourport-on-Severn

Why have the government spent so much on a folly like the dome, when it could have been spent on the NHS? If Gordon Brown can't afford to lower fuel tax, how can he afford such a profitless drain on the public purse?
Naomi de Berker, London

I don't recall anyone ever saying that surely the real reason that the dome has been a flop is that it was exactly one year too late. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the contents and attractions. The millennium ceased to become an event on the 1 January 2000. Now we are in 2000, it means nothing. The hype has totally vanished and so has any public interest in millennium-related events.
Martin Baker, London

As the last Conservative Government initiated this project, it was deemed to be a profitable commercial project. If it had not been a commercial concept, but purely of social and educational interest, then none of the financial aspects would have been in question. Why can we not accept the Dome as an achievement - one that has given the public of this, and other countries interest and debate.
Sue Acheson

The comments on the Dome do not take into account that if you built an entertainments' building there is no way you can recoup your investment in one year. It will take at least five years before it starts to make a profit. I do not know if any of the panel had been to the Dome but I have and the building as a civil engineering feat is marvellous. The zones are informative and the whole experience was superb. I am sad that we do not seem able to enjoy it for its own sake.
M Tonge, Wigan

Regarding the question about the Dome, I wholeheartedly support the speaker who made the reference to Disney. It seems to me that it is the British disease that we cannot be proud or supportive of something British. Having visited the Dome and just recently returned from Disney in Florida I have no doubt whatsoever that had the Dome been in Disney it would have been better managed and fully supported by Americans.
Lesley King, Durham

Everyone I have spoken to who has actually been to the dome, has said what a wonderful experience it was. I have been and would ask all the critics to visit before condemning. I am certainly considering making a second visit. However I do think the money could have been better spent but since it is now in being let us make the most of it. It is wonderful.
Bud Shields, Sutton on Sea, Lincs

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Why won't nurses in England work?

Audience question: Why do you think the NHS is having to recruit nurses from other countries? What is it that does not encourage nurses in England to work? You said:

I would love to join the nursing profession, but as a home-owner with a mortgage, I cannot afford to give up my current salary, for a bursary of 4,800pa to train. Is it possible that this is affecting the recruitment of nurses in this country?
Cathy Nelson, Eastbourne

It would not surprise me to find many of the people complaining about the taxation levels on fuel etc in this country are also the ones who feel that we don't pay enough to our public sector workers. You can't have it both ways - if you want a top-class NHS and education system, it's going to cost money.
Karl Henderson, London

If the government agrees to seven years' experience before consultants can do private work in order to subsidise their salaries we will lose our dedicated consultants who have spent years training and working extremely long hours as junior doctors in hospitals. More importantly as a mother of one of these people now working in America I lose my rights to watch my grandson grow up here.
Ina Cox, Farnborough

I think nurses are always whinging about pay - what has happened to the vocation that nurses were supposed to have? Pay is not everything. I worked in the NHS for many years and nurses were not always overworked and underpaid. I think 20-30,000 is quite good pay! The general public is under a misapprehension if they think nurses are the only ones who carry the NHS. Good luck to the imported nurses.
Mary Kallagher, King's Lynn

It is openly accepted that there is a nursing recruitment problem in the NHS. There is also a problem whereby both the public and the government fail to see that a hospital is not nurses and doctors but is in fact many teams of staff. I am a qualified biomedical scientist who left 12 years in hospital laboratories behind because I got fed up looking up at even the nurses pay scales.
Stephen Balmer, Derbyshire

Diane Abbott said something has to be done to help nurses afford accommodation in London. Does she think it's only in London where there are hospitals? In Newcastle the nursing home was closed down. It now houses refugees, which is obviously funded by the government or the local council, which in Newcastle is probably Labour. If it can be funded for refugees why couldn't it be funded for our nurses?
Mrs J Wilkinson, Redruth

The caring profession is notorious for being expected to soldier on because it is made up of vocational workers, but the reason I left nursing is more to do with the undermining of the profession by so-called experts who have ruined a good thing by their interference. I would not feel safe trying to do the job today.
Monica Rees, Newport, Isle of Wight

In the NHS today we have general managers who are qualified and experienced nurses. Similarly nurses are IT managers, acting as management consultants instead of nursing. We do not have a shortage of nurses, we have a shortage of nurses, nursing. In the meantime thousands of NHS staff who are not nurses have been made redundant. This cannot make sense!
P W Tekell, Braintree

Our hospital recruited nurses from Canada and Ireland. It was a good idea, but most of them went back because they were homesick. Is the problem not just money but the fact that hospitals are now run by men in grey suits and not the medical staff? It is said that it is not practical to bring back matrons, but maybe if managers were in uniform and had practical nursing experience, it would give nursing staff a lift and a more positive attitude. Dealing with people's health should not just be about finance.
Joanne Barton, Buckingham

The final question tackled the subject of nursing recruitment. I am a physiotherapist working in Rotherham. I agree absolutely that nurses should be paid a decent wage, but would like to add that physiotherapists (like myself) are also inadequately rewarded.
Jenny Manners, Sheffield

I had to give up my post due to difficulties with my ex husband I now find myself doing a non nursing job as the only nursing job I have been able to get in nursing was for an agency at a rate of pay of 4.25hr. The job involved assisting NHS community nurses. Why are the government not putting more money into community care and employing there own qualified nurses at a correct rate of pay instead of using cheap labour of agencies?
Tracey Pearshouse, Blairgowrie

With regards to nurses' pay, more should be done with regards to training these nurses. I know people who want to become nurses but have been accepted then waited 2-3 years before they can start their courses because their is not enough training facilities available.
Sian Halliwell, Wigan

Although I agree that adequate pay for nurses is important, so is job satisfaction and respect. I also think something needs to be done about trainee nurses who leave before finishing their training, as this only makes matters worse. There should be taster sessions so would-be nurses have the chance to see what it is really like.
Vicki Griffiths, Gloucester

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General comments on the programme:

It was refreshing to hear the frank comments made by Diane Abbott, who consistently refuses to toe the party line when it comes to something she feels strongly about. Also, listening to Gary Hart was interesting. It seemed to me that he had a greater intellectual capacity and certainly more charisma than either of the candidates who are now battling for the presidency.
Julie Wake, Newcastle upon Tyne

The quality of debate between Labour and Conservative politicians is reminiscent of playground squabbles. Each party blames the other for the state of the country - the Conservatives seem to think we have the memory of a goldfish whilst Labour just gets defensive and says: "Well we're trying our best but things take a long time".
Robin Duckworth, York

I have to suggest that David Dimbleby's attitude tonight was flippant and arrogant. I believe he led the debate into a lower tone. The whole debate was a laugh and entertaining, but that has up to now been the role not the strength of Question Time.
Chris Birchenhall, Stockport, Cheshire

Diane Abbott was a good choice for a Labour panellist. Though I don't agree with her politics, she has my respect for not toeing the party line on some issues and speaking her mind regarding some of her colleagues.
Paul Smith, Plymouth

My wife and I watch the programme but each week we become more and more disenchanted. The programme is entitled Question Time. You obviously select questions to be put to the panel thereby taking away the spontaneity of the public who attend.
Michael Franklin

I think David Dimbleby should remember that he is chairman of the discussion and not adopt the role of interviewer, often interrupting speakers, including those from the audience in mid- sentence, to argue with them. Please take this as constructive criticism as it is meant.
Dennis Proudman, Taynuilt

Thank goodness Gary Hart did not become US president. If his input to Question Time was anything to go by, the world would be in a terrible state by now. Not once did he give an informed opinion.
Rowland Hayward, Blackpool

Doesn't your programme, excellent as it is, prove that Churchill was right when he said that democracy is the worst system apart from everyone we've ever thought of. To have all the politicians who are supposed to be struggling with the real questions of our age to be rather wrapped up in thinking of ways to defend themselves is surely not the answer.
Simon Adams, Walton-on-Thames

I enjoy Question Time very much, but it seems that all too often that the Conservative Party representative is from a different planet both in what they say and how they say it. Would it be possible to invite some "more normal" ones?
Roy Dobb

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