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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 14:19 GMT
January 18, Bristol
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Audience question: Taking account of the lengthy adoption procedures in England should it be advisable to use the internet as a fast track way of bringing a child into the family home? You said:
Kudos to the UK authorities for acting promptly in that disgraceful episode - the "purchase" of the American twins by that shameless pair, who even had the temerity to inform the "Sun" about the affair. I pity the poor twins.
I don't think the natural mother or the two sets of parents that bought these babies should have them. Anyone that is willing to buy and sell children is a completely unfit parent. They should be given to proper caring adoptive parents who will be willing to give love rather than money.
Firstly, I totally agree with Adrian's points. I would add that why did this couple even contemplate adopting from America when there are so many children in THIS country that need to be adopted. Had they taken this route they wouldn't have had to pay either!
Whereas I am as concerned as the rest of the country about the concept of adoption over the net, I think that the Kilshaws and their prospective daughters have been treated in a very high-handed manner by the authorities. The little girls have been shunted around sufficiently and now they are going into care, into the care of the social services who only recently showed themselves to be less than capable in preventing the death of an eight-year-old.
I object to the earlier comment "more adoptions fail than succeed". Where is your guest getting her information from? Who exactly has committed the crime in this case? Surely the people who profit from the sale of a child are the people who should be punished and not the people who offer those children something better than a price tag!
I think that Tony Blair, especially as prime minister, has no right to call people who have done nothing fundamentally wrong, "disgusting".
Child abuse, paedophilia, and vicious cruelty are "disgusting"; using an easy way to get what you thought might not be possible is not. Is it wrong that the internet now gives children who might never have had opportunities of being adopted, greater exposure and an increased chance?
As a new father, I find it sick and disgusting that parents could even possibly consider 'purchasing' children for adoption like everyday produce - especially when it is clear to see they already have two sons who deserve the parents' love and affection - not to be pushed aside as some kind of second hand toy!
I can't see anything wrong with the twins' adoption.
Is Tony Blair ducking out of democracy?
Audience question: By ducking out of the television debate with William Hague and Charles Kennedy is Tony Blair ducking out of democracy? You said:
If this country had a parliament which allowed meaningful scrutiny of the government rather than simply half an hour of cheap jibes and point-scoring every week there would be no need for TV debates. Would most people actually watch it anyway if it were a serious discussion of policies?
Any format that is exclusive of all leaders aside of the three main parties is unfair and unjust. The case that claims the other parties do not have a realistic chance of winning power does not stand up - when did the Lib Dems come close to taking office? Besides, why should the British public base their judgement on a couple of 60-minute broadcasts?
I think Tony Blair should participate in a televised debate with the leaders of the opposition parties. Unfortunately I think every speech which he makes seems rehearsed. If this was put to a vote I think it is something the people of this country would support and I think it may have a positive effect on the publics interest in politics.
This whole business about leaders of political parties having a head-to-head debate on live television in the run up to a General Election really is a load of old hooey. Check out the facts and you¿ll find that at every election of recent times the Leader of the Opposition has always requested such a debate and the Leader of the Government has always rejected it. One side has too much to gain and the other too much to lose to ever make it a viability.
I find it rather amusing that a majority of people feel that Tony Blair does not wish to face William Hague due to a fact that he is scared. In my opinion if such a confrontation was to be aired there would be only one winner, the prime minister. The reason for this is that in PMQ's the PM has to answer the questions that are submitted to him ie defend government policies. In an open debate the PM would be able to expose the weak policies of the other two parties.
In answer to Alan Halden: Nixon lost the vote due to voter fraud by the Democrats, Reagan won due to his opponent being so bad he was unelectable and Gore lost because he was a persistent liar and android like nonentity. Blair preens himself as a presidential style PM - let him take part in a presidential style debate.
Tony Blair's decision to not go on TV opposite Hague is a PRO-democracy decision. William Hague, to his shame, has reduced one to one debate to vicious personal abuse more akin to football hooliganism than democratic debate.
Mr Blair is wrong not to answer our questions. After all he is appointed by us for us as a collective, therefore we should have answers to questions, on the fundamental issues that affect our society and our children. It makes for one question: "What does he have to hide?" and I fear and know that this is the problem.
I'd agree that the TV debate between the political leaders would push us towards a presidential style election. However it can't be denied that there is a large proportion of society that do not read the broadsheets or watch Question Time who would gain insight into the issues by watching such a debate.
Following Tony Blair's willingness to appear on ITV's "Ask the Prime Minister" I find it difficult to understand why he can't go one step further and face down Kennedy and Hague in a televised election debate. Could it be that New Labour has finally completely lost its post election confidence? Such a debate can only enhance the democratic process.
Re Baroness Jay's boast that Tony Blair had opened himself to the people of Bristol...you may have noticed a murmur from the audience. It was restricted to selected party members - the only say that anyone else got was by throwing fruit as the man went in. That's not what I call democracy.
Tony Blair is quite right to refuse presidential style debates. Kennedy was elected on his good looks and Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow, Reagan was elected because he was an actor at ease on the screen and Gore 'lost' the election because he was 'stiff' in front of the cameras. Our popular media focuses on sweaty shirts or bald heads - let's concentrate on the economy and policies.
The Labour party has become so arrogant, their true anti-class anti-tradition and lapdog stance is showing in its true colours. Blair hardly attends parliament to vote as it is and his absence yesterday was in line with his absence from the proposed TV debate.
Thatcher refused to debate with both Foot and Kinnock, who was the coward in this instance.
I regularly watch PMQ's and find it hard to remember Mr Blair ever giving a straight yes/no answer to a simple question. Instead we get a posturing performance that rallies the troops whilst refusing to give the information requested. A chaired debate would enable the public to set their agenda for debate and not have to listen to the one set by point scoring politicians in parliament.
Government hypocritical to spend time on banning fox-hunting?
Audience question: Isn't it rather hypocritical of this government to spend so much time on banning fox-hunting while also Jack Straw is in the process of bringing in new laws in to curb animal activists? You said:
I am appalled at some of the remarks I have read on this website. The horrific nature in which the foxes are hunted is being blatantly ignored. Talk about being on a high horse - the people stand by and watch while a pack of hounds play tug of war with the fox until it is ripped to pieces. Then they go home and write into this debate and argue that it is a civilised sport and the foxes are killed instantly and feel no pain whatsoever. The humanity of these individuals is questionable.
Fox-hunting is more cruel than fishing or pheasant shooting simply because fish and pheasants are not chased to exhaustion before being torn apart and eaten alive. My freedom to charge around the countryside in fancy dress yelling, blowing hooters and generally having fun ends where cruelty to animals begins.
It is frequently overlooked that animals themselves benefit directly from experiments of this nature. Many products used in human medicine are also widely used within the field of veterinary medicine. If one's cat or dog needs medication any product used by a vet has to be thoroughly tested to make sure that it is safe and will do whatever is necessary to return that animal back to health. This applies throughout the whole of animal medicine.
Experiments on animals are necessary, at least for the present, to bring about advances in medicine.
Hunting with hounds is purely for recreation and as such we could live without it.
As long as there is a commonly held belief that animal suffering should be minimised in the course of servicing legitimate human interest, then it is logical for both legal actions to be pursued.
As far as animal experimentation is concerned I do believe that effective alternatives should be pursued but, I accept that they may not be available as yet.
Hunting is not the most efficient way of keeping fox numbers down, employing one person on a wage of £25k a year would probably do a better job of keeping fox numbers down in a given area. However, if you were to ban fox-hunting then you would put thousands out of work and the economy would suffer. This would push Labour off being able to manage another simple pledge.
Having lived in the countryside for almost all my life, I have to laugh when these idiots come on TV and say "oh but fox hunting is part of country life". No it is not! Everyone I know in both the countryside and city believe these people should be locked up for life... or worse. Think about it people, the countryside got on fine for millions of years before you came along with your so-called help.
Give the countryside back to the animals, I say.
With regard to fox hunting, the self righteousness of the many in this column is unbelievable. We keep animals locked in houses while we work, we have pigs' throats cut by the million so that their carcasses can adorn our ritualistic Sunday dinner table, we allow animals to be bred for our lust for meat so that they can live in pens and die within months of their birth, we allow our animals to eat horses. Watch out tolerance the masses have been stirred!
Graham: The sound of the hunting horns... the hounds' excitement at the "smell" of a hunt... 'Tally ho old chaps!'. The terrified fox running for its life, trapped and ripped apart so a first time hunter can be daubed in its blood. That has absolutely nothing to do with gun control. I agree that guns on the streets of America are a BIG problem. Regardless, we are debating foxes, not America.
People go bananas when other animals are cruelly treated, so why be cruel to foxes? If fox-hunting was a pastime followed by some lads from a council estate, it would, rightfully so, never have legally seen the light of day!
It's about time these people, and their supporters in the press, realise that their views do not hold sway in modern Britain. Tories preach tolerance on this issue and yet victimise and scapegoat innocent members of HUMAN society like lone parents, asylum seekers and homosexuals. Therefore, who is the more hypocritical?
If foxes are pests and need to be controlled, then take a gun a shoot them - how can we call ourselves a civilised society when a small but significant minority take delight in something so abhorrent. If we were to treat puppies/kittens/pets in such a manner, we would be accused of animal cruelty. Why do this minority think they have the right to treat animals in such a way simply because they are 'in the countryside'.
Even if fox-hunting is banned, who is going to police it? Is it going to be the police with limited resources already travelling around the countryside making sure hunting doesn't occur! This Labour government are putting more strain on the police now to do much more with less.
To say hunting is only supported by rich people is absurd. It just highlights the fact how little the anti-hunt lobby really knows about hunting.
The intemperate language of hunt supporters is very worrying in a democracy eg this means war in the countryside ...we will defy Blair's law etc. When the democratically elected parliament of any civilised nation votes by a massive majority to enact legislation, you either accept it and peacefully campaign for a change of law/govt or, you push off to somewhere your bigotted views may be supported.
I hold no brief for fox-hunting but I cannot see the basic moral difference between hunting and fishing,
both of which are practised to fuel a rush of adrenalin by "defeating"a creature unable to fight back.
The same unwashed scum who are threatening staff at animal testing laboratories are the same vermin who have attacked and threatened huntsmen and hunt staff for years, yet Blair and his cronies preferred to turn a blind eye then. Hypocrites or what?
When I first moved to the countryside I was very passionately against fox hunting but I have come to realise that it is the best way of fox control. If hunting with dogs is banned, will the government be providing marksmen to control the fox population? A fox can only be humanely shot with a rifle and the recent handgun bill has created a shortage of rifle owning marksmen in our area.
As an old Brit living over here for 40 yrs, I love animals, but think the press and you are not putting enough emphasis on the side of farmers and their huge animal losses. A fox is as much vermine as any other predator on farm stock.
None of the panel managed to condemn the attacks on hunt supporters and staff in South easy England. We must presume that they all find terror attacks acceptable if they don't like the victims. Methinks that this illustrates the basis of the arguments for those who would ban hunting.
Watch how quickly fox popularity wanes if we get an outbreak of rabies, or a couple of townies are bitten in the street. Who's going to do the dirty work of disposing of the fox problem when hysteria breaks out?
I find it physically nauseating to watch Labour inclined members of the panel and public trying to shroud what is evidently an issue of class envy in GCSE classroom levels of half-baked self-righteous tendentious logic. Fox hunting simply doesn't figure as a priority in the animal welfare debate. What has happened to tolerance in this country? Indeed, what has happened to common sense?
I am just so depressed that Yasmin was against fox hunting purely because the toffs do it. That people like her can come on prime time television, and be so incredibly ill-informed about the issue, is absolutely awful. Her thoughts were nothing to do with the fox, I doubt she has even seen one, just total prejudice.
Mr Clive Hill: Americans have a far worse respect for wildlife than we do - look around man. All the shooting over there - at least we have the bottle to ban guns from our streets.
With so many important issues affecting our society today the issue of fox hunting is totally irrelevant. The way forward is to ban an inhumane pastime which serves the interests of a privileged few and concentrate on the more serious issues facing us like education, improved healthcare and crime.
Any society using culture and 'jobs' as an excuse for killing animals for 'fun' is abhorrent beyond words. Ironically, the job card was also the argument that people used to support the slave trade not so long ago! And PLEASE don't give us that country v city argument. I am from the country and I do not know any rational person that supports fox hunting!
You have to experience it before judging it. Think of all the homeless hounds and the job losses people will suffer from, it is some people's living and who do you think you are by meddling in things you know anything about! The fox population needs to be kept down, they kill other farm animals which are actually of some use to all of us, for example, chickens and sheep. You wouldn't have a decent meal without them!
Fox hunting is Britain's shame. Humans in pantomime costume abuse horses for the enjoyment of chasing a little dog with bigger dogs, until its lungs burst. Then the shameless gather to watch the tearing apart of a defenceless creature.
As politicians believe that they are not vermin, and are cuddly and fluffy (like foxes), I presume that they will soon be banning the hunt equivalent for political animals, ie journalists? The proposed ban is an atrocious attack on civil liberties.
Let's behave like the compassionate animal lovers we British have as a reputation and outlaw this barbarism and its supporters once and for all. Cries that it is part of our heritage should be dismissed as the desperate attempts they are. Slavery is also a shameful part of our heritage and some people wanted, for their own personal gain, to keep that too.
After spending so much time and money on the Burns report, which concludes there is no case to ban hunting on the grounds of cruelty, why has every Labour politician ignored its findings?
Why should the urban majority control what happens in the countryside? These foxes will now be shot, gassed and any other methods farmers and game keepers see fit to use. So far this shooting season we have shot 61 and this will increase if hunting is banned!
It seems to me that none of your panel understands fox-hunting and what it involves. If fox-hunting is banned how do you think the foxes will be killed? They are a pest and need to be controlled. According to the Burns report foxes, in the event of a ban, would either be snared or shot both of which would lead to more suffering for the fox than would be sustained when being culled by the hunt.
Fox hunting will be abolished in the future and we'll see how quiet the bloodsports supporters go subsequently to allow what they are now calling more important issues to be preferentially debated.
I'm a diabetic and both myself and my father would be dead if it not for animal research. I doubt if there are any animal activists who wouldn't let their children receive a blood transfusion or chemotherapy if they thought it would save their life. Such comparison with hunting shows a basic lack of understanding about how medical research is carried out and in the vast majority of cases an astounding case of hypocrisy.
It seems that hunting with hounds is not acceptable as it is currently practised (if at all). Do the same considerations apply to fishing? Are artificial and natural environments different in this respect? Is it acceptable to hunt, kill and eat rather than just eat - missing out the hunting (rearing) and killing (slaughtering)?
With regard to the comment made by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown where does she get her ideas from that hunt staff and other hunting related workers would want to make life size models of foxes for hunting. This would really turn the countryside into a theme park, and what use would it serve?
What I am against is the British parliamentary system allowing important time in parliament to debate such a small issue. I believe that parliament should be focusing on real issues of the day such as ending child abuse - which we seem to hear about everyday, improving education and health.
I'm only 27 and after 15 years of agony from Crohn's disease I've just received a drug which was not only tested on but developed from mice and I'm well for the first time I can remember. It's very important to develop new drugs in this way to help alleviate the suffering of many people.
Labour show their true colours, again. Fox hunting to them is a class issue and is yet another example of their paying for the silence of the extremists in their ranks. When it is illegal to own a gun dog, or a terrier, only then will the people of this country realise what an affront to civil liberty this bill poses.
Why are pheasant shoots and fishing less cruel than fox hunting?
Fox hunting should be banned, due to its barbaric nature, and savagery to the fox. These beautiful animals have been here for a long time, is it right for us to continue persecuting them just because tradition says so?
One may argue that its a time honoured tradition firmly entrenched in the rich English culture and heritage, but so was death by torture as many suffered the most inexplicable pain before being killed, by being drawn and quartered first - that, thankfully, seems to have lost cheer.
I was born and raised in South East England... and could never understand the pompous disrespect for helpless wildlife, so the blue blood could pursue "sport".
It seems very suspicious that such a high profile vote is left till this late stage in a parliament. This makes me think Labour doesn't seem to be all that bothered about the actual bill rather its politics and usefulness during the upcoming election campaign.
Why are we shocked by the treatment of dead bodies?
Audience question: In the current situation where the dignity of patients is compromised daily why are we so shocked by the treatment of dead bodies? You said:
If the mortuary is full, what are the staff to do? Personally, I think to put the bodies in the chapel of rest is perfectly appropriate, provided it is done with dignity and respect - there is nothing about this incident to suggest this was not the case. The loss of dignity was in the perverse person who took the picture, and the media who chose to publish it.
The solutions to the NHS, education, travel services are blindingly obvious: increase income tax. There is a vast resource of knowledge, experience in this country going to waste because of so-called 'ageism'.
Any person who has a job should thank their lucky stars and realise their social responsibility.
Any political party that has the guts to do this might just be voted in.
Yasmin made the comment that people are used to seeing Africans in body bags, but when they see dead people at home it's different. This comment was disgraceful and offensive both to myself and to my boyfriend, who is African. When did it become the norm to see dead Africans on TV? Maybe in future, this woman, who has such a voice in the media, should think twice before passing such a flippant remark.
When I worked in the NHS it was not unusual to have 20 or more bodies lying, in winter, on trolleys with just a sheet over them, in an open ended underground corridor, which was open to the elements at each end at all times of day and night which afforded them no respect at all.
What few people will know is that, on our request for their help, Bedford South Wing Hospital enabled us to build the first mortuary at a hospital at Bansang in The Gambia. This hospital with only 200 beds serves a population of over half a million people. We are forever indebted to Bedford for their help, and particularly the management there. When the maintenance staff cannot mend the broken temporary storage for bodies, where better to leave them than in The Chapel of Rest?
Why not privatise (or abolish) the good-ol' NHS, and allow the public to spend their hard-earned money on far superior private health-care. Whereas, currently, our monies are being mismanaged to the tune of over £60bn pa!
In countries where health services run at a satisfactory level such as France the ratio of hospital beds and medical staff to population is about right, supported by adequate funds. This has been well known throughout the fiasco of the last 10 years. Those that run down our health service hold a heavy responsibility for the present situation. It will take a long time for improved finance to be effective.
Re the recent scandal of the treatment of the dead at Bedford Hospital. The government is correct to state that this was a disgrace. I will say as a nurse in the NHS for 30 yrs that this is not the standard. Every nurse becomes attached to the patients and will always treat the dead with respect and dignity. There is a need for this issue to be publicly investigated.
Having worked in the funeral trade in Worthing during a flu epidemic bodies were laid in piles on the floor as no room was available in the fridges and those dead still received the respect given to them by the people working within the hospital - this is common practise.
I have been employed by a private cleaning company for a number of years and in my experience whenever the NHS make cutbacks the first service which has its budget cut is the cleaning contract. Although these cuts are made year on year we are still expected to maintain the same high level of service and standards.
What do hospitals normally do to the dead bodies when the mortuary is full?
Audience question: Does the panel believe that money is corrupting sport? You said:
It is a big shame that money has taken over the game of football in such an unstoppable way. Everyone has benefited except the genuine fans, who are forced to pay extortionate prices to watch their beloved teams. The heart has been ripped out of the people's game, and I can only see the game deteriorating as a result.
With regard the Bruce Grobbelaar issue. My concern is that none of the panel members mentioned the fact that the appeal court decision undermines the basic fabric of the English judicial system. The appeal court judges have basically dismissed the jury's decision.
The Welsh national football team is always losing out to England. Michael Owen is one of the most talented Welsh footballers today, and yet he plays for England, because England can more him more money!
David Beckham made it quite clear in the NoW last Sunday that talks about his future contract would not start until the summer. Why, therefore, do people keep on about him demanding £100,000 per week?
Audience question: Is violent crime rising due to the falling police numbers?
It amazes me that whenever the subject of violent crime comes up, neither panellists nor audience mention the fact of the appalling violence being shown constantly on TV and film which is bound to motivate antisocial behaviour. If we are subjected to advertising because it makes us buy things how can anyone deny the effect of media violence?
More police will be a great help in reducing street crime, but can they get the staff? I was mugged in Camberwell, SE London only a couple of months
ago. The attackers were probably only about 17. Afterwards I tried phoning
THREE different local police stations and nobody answered.
I don't think there is a direct link between total crime levels and police numbers but there is a clear link between street crime and the amount of police officers on the beat. Given the appalling level of street crime in this country I think it is about time that we took a very tough approach to crime and that would be to slash political correctness and bureaucracy in the police force and to implement zero tolerance policing throughout Britain.
I was surprised at the naivety of the discussion on street crime. If you were a teenager (as most of the offenders are) you'd know that boredom was the worst problem. Police can, to some extent, contain the resultants of boredom, but they will never stop them. All that's needed is to stop the boredom.
As a serving police officer, I can say that without any doubt whatsoever, the rise in crime has a direct link with police numbers. The police service has to be better funded if we are to achieve any real fall in the rate of crime. The criminals are streets ahead of us, so what chance do we have?
Policing in the UK would appear to be a seasonal occupation as the only time there is an adequate police presence on the beat is in the summer months when they all come out for a wander!
"More bobbies on the beat" will do nothing to reduce crime of itself. If they are treating people well, doing a good job they will get willing co-operation and 'intelligence' which may indeed reduce crime, but if they alienate the public, their presence will not help and may even exacerbate the problems.
There is some correlation between police numbers and rising crime. There is also a correlation between community trust and reporting crime and seeking to stop crime. There is a kink between a good citizen and stopping crime, so let's raise our fellow citizen's quality of life. Petty crimes are thriving in communities where people feel left behind by society.
Fox made a valid point, too quickly brushed over: You can have the bobbies on the street, suddenly hype up recruitment, the laws, but, if you do not have the will in the courts to implement the will of parliament, legislation, your criminals will continue to thrive for lack of deterrent. Never mind corruption in the sports. Look to corruption in the courts. An opinion borne of experience, not mere theory.
The panellists promote the use of sexist language by continuing, over a number or years, to use the term policeman. Are there no women employed by police authorities? Please, will someone correct this view? Even the women, like Baroness Jay use the term! Are all criminals men, chased by men?
In response to the comment made by Phil de Glanville. I don't know when he last went out in Bath on a Saturday night. The police presence there is negligible. Many taxi drivers I have spoken to will not work after 2am due to the trouble on the streets and the lack of police to intervene and help. Bristol on the other hand does have a good supply of police on a Friday and Saturday night, and trouble in the town centre is not as bad as it is in Bath.
We can employ as many police officers as we want, but unless we look at violent crime from the wider perspective, including the deep rooted social problems and the effectiveness of the judiciary we will not be able to curb current trends.
With reference to police recruitment when will the government start talking actual figures and not percentages? A 70% increase on zero is still zero!
My partner works as a civilian employee of the Metropolitan police and often informs me of the many police officers doing the same administrative jobs as civilians. The Metropolitan police should return more of these officers to the streets. I think that there should be a national review of what the police actually do with their time because my gut feeling is that there is a lot of time wasted at increasing public expense.
I wondered at times why four panellists were invited as it seemed that Baroness Jay was put on a pedestal and given a free floor in which to waffle on in her holier than thou attitude. Also why was Phil de Glanville on the show - he had nothing to contribute and obviously lacked any thought on a subject unless he had been directly affected by it.
Where were the Bristolians? I did not hear one local accent. Can it be that they are not interested or is it that the entire programme is packed with supporters of the various political parties?
When are we going to see someone from the Green Party on the panel? There are too many ill-informed, 'lightweight' celebs and journalists on the programme who contribute little to debates.
Has the BBC invited the three main party leaders to appear in the same edition of Question Time? Failing that, have they been invited to separate ones? That could not be confused with an "American style" TV debate and could provide similar scrutiny, even if, unfortunately, to a smaller audience.
I would like to protest at the way Dimbleby continually harrassed Ms Jay on tonight's show. He was rude and singled her out for criticism, and on a NUMBER of occasions asked her pointed questions when he felt that the audience was not ''grilling'' her hard enough.
Is it possible for a Labour representative to appear on 'Question Time' without sounding like a Blair clone? I doubt it, as the leader of the House of Lords is a perfect example tonight.
Why do the educated panel use the term 'gonna' instead of the correct term 'going to'?
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