Thursday 14 January, London

Thursday 17 December, Nottingham

Thursday 10 December, Manchester

Thursday 3 December, Southampton

Thursday 26 November, Newcastle

Thursday 19 November, Peterborough

Thursday 12 November, Glasgow

Thursday 5 November, London

Thursday 29 October, Birmingham

Thursday 22 October, Cardiff

Thursday 15 October, Leeds

Thursday 8 October, Bournemouth


Thursday 14 January, London

On the panel were:

  • Michael Portillo, former defence secretary
  • Ann Taylor MP, government Chief Whip
  • Matthew Parris, parliamentary sketchwriter, The Times
  • Fay Weldon, author
  • Malcom Bruce MP, Liberal Democrat chief Treasury spokesman

    Stephen Lawrence inquiry

    Audience question: Given the resignation of Detective Inspector Bullock, has the dignified and very peaceful campaign of the Lawrence parents been fruitless?

    Michael Portillo said: "I don't think it's been fruitless ... Even if as I fear, they're never going to see justice in their own case, I hope racism will be driven out of the police force."

    Matthew Parris "I think everybody, even racists, have begun to feel a little bit ashamed."

    Malcom Bruce said: "I certainly think heads should roll ...The idea that people can retire, collect a full pension and walk away without any discipline, is totally unacceptable and it must be changed and it must be changed tomorrow ... The problem we have is that we can only get the police to investigate themselves."

    You said:

    With reference to the Lawrence murdershouldn't we be looking for the people who did the crime rather than those who investigated it? Can we not leave the police alone for a change, for surely they are not the ones who should be held totally responsible. Someone or some people murdered a citizen of our country, should they not be the ones in court?
    Trevor Maddock

    The information revolution is making the world a smaller place. In the future a call to any place in the world will be extremely cheap, I will be able to communicate with people in the remotest villages in India. We all will have much more respect for each other. Higher education in the UK consists of many international students, whom we listen to and discuss with. This leads to friendship and relationships with people our grandfathers had hardly known about. Hopefully , this will lead us to greater understanding and respect for other cultures. Our natural instinct is to find differences. Racism can be eliminated, by education. We all must be responsible for our children and nurture humane thoughts.
    Ramesh Suren

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, the issue as to whether police officers should be disciplined and whether they should lose their pensions are two separate issues. It has been said by some that the state pays their pensions. The state does no such thing. Police officers pay a large proportion of their salaries into the superannuation fund and therefore have an entitlement to receive their pension upon retirement. The discipline question is another matter and it is surely not beyond the wit of government to devise a system whereby police officers (or members of any other profession) can be called to account for their actions whilst serving. I am a recently retired police officer and I feel hurt that members of what is a generically good organisation should have been put in this situation. It needs sorting out to the satisfaction of the Lawrence family and those police officers who have the interests of the police service at heart.
    Robert Erett

    If a similar situation like the Stephen Lawrence case in the future, how are the authorities going to deal with it properly, by not just talking about it as they are doing at the moment? When will more powerful legislation come into effect and if so then what will it be?
    S Palmer

    Labour sleaze

    Does the recent sleaze and scandal of the Labour cabinet indicate that the government has lost its way?

    Matthew Parris said: "The more sleaze the better ... it's the only thing that makes politics interesting. I just think we shouldn't take it so seriously and on the whole I don't think politicians should resign ... I think it's for corruption that people should resign and that's different."

    Ann Taylor said: "Clearly journalists like nothing more than sleaze ... The trouble is that sometimes all we get from journalists is the froth and not the substance."

    Malcom Bruce said: "My concern is that I'm not sure the government has not found its way yet ... we're still implementing Tory spending policies."

    Michael Portillo said: "Our government was destroyed by people disagreeing, there's no doubt about that. And that exactly what's happening with the Labour government. It looks as though they've spent 18 years developing these hatreds and jostling for position and that's why I think they've have lost their way."

    You said:

    The criticism of New Labour for attaching a higher priority to style over substance is not new. However, to put this in the context of whether they have "lost their way" in government, I offer a comment made by one commentator on their first anniversary of coming to power: "This is a government who aren't quite sure where they're going, but are bound to know a fabulous restaurant when they get there."
    Nigel Fletcher, London

    Before we continue to tear into the new government over sleaze let us ask these questions, who took responsibility for black wednesday? how many resigned over cash for questions? and who took the rap for the BSE crisis? Ok the presant government may not be whiter than white but at least people are takeing responsibility which is more than can be said for the last lot.
    Matthew Sheader, Huddersfield University

    Ann Taylor said that the cabinet are all happy bunnies, no infighting, cracking jokes - She should remember Richard III: "Why I may smile, and murder I smile..."
    Robert McWhirter

    I think that Peter Mandelson should not be able to hold public office again because he was attacking the Conservative Party for sleaze whilst committing a sleazy act himself.
    Carl Evans

    Audience question: Does the panel feel William Hague is capable of punching his way out of a paper bag?

    Michael Portillo said: "Let's face it, the difficulty is, those of us who know him think he's very good and very able and he's not yet found a way of convincing people through a television screen what those of us who know him personally know about him. And that is a difficult thing, some people are very well adapted to it and some people adapt over time ... But because I know him very well and I think he has very great qualities ... because I think he's got that basic equipment, I'm absolutely confident that he can master those techniques over a period of time."

    Matthew Parris said: "He's very good in the House of Commons ... He hasn't made much impact outside, partly I think, because I don't think the country want to hear from the Conservative Party for a long time."

    You said:

    Please, please, please tell Mr Portillo to not become Tory leader. Last night he came across as a nice guy who cares. How quickly this will change.
    Matt Sheringham

    When will the Tory party see sense and put Portillo in as their leader? Mr Heseltine had my vote but I can see a greatness in Mr Portillo, a greatness and honesty I have only ever have seen in Churchill himself. I'll 87 now, my grandson helps me surf the net and it's become an incredibly small world, son of a miner and proud to live in the north. But when you've seen what I've seen, you go for the right man with the right mind - sod the politics.
    Sid Morton

    The European Commission

    Audience question: Wouldn't it have been a lot healthier for democracy in Europe if the parliament had forced at least two commissioners to resign?

    Fay Weldon said: "To sack them at this moment with the euro, everything slightly trembly ... it would have been a very foolish move."

    Michael Portillo said: "I'm here as living proof that the British people have the right to get rid of people they don't think are doing very well ... Let's have some proper accountability."

    Malcom Bruce said: "What we need is effectively a constitution for Europe."

    You said:

    The European Commissioners are rapidly becoming the government of this country - and continue to ask for more powers. They are currently allowing over 6m every year to be wasted though fraud and mismanagement. It is outrageous that the European Parliament was not prepared to take action against the Commissioners. This episode only serves to prove how totally undemocratic the EU is.
    Richard Wright

    This current issue appears to be yet another indication that there is something seriously wrong with the way that the commission is set up and run. Over the years we've heard about MEPs running up enormous bills for travel, representation and the like, we've heard of subsidies either falling into the hands of criminals or those cheating the system and now we have the recent case where those running the commission are blatantly trying to avoid being investigated. Add to this the fact that Brussels has created one of the heaviest and most bureaurocratic administrations ever known and we have to seriously ask ourselves "Even if we believe in the EU do we really want this organisation to run it?".
    Nick Thompson

    Several people implied that the commissioners are the equivalent of our government or its ministers. This is not the case - the Council of Ministers have this role. The Commissioners are the equivalent of our senior civil servants, carrying out policies agreed by the Council of Ministers. Our House of Commons backbenchers don't seem to me to have any greater influence over our government than the European Parliament over the Council of Ministers and Commissioners.
    Dr Garry Fawcett

    Foster parents on the run

    Audience question: Should the Bramley family be given another chance to adopt?

    Fay Weldon said: "I think you ask the children."

    Matthew Parris said: "I hope they don't come back. I'm afraid that if they do come back they may be judged bad parents."

    Malcom Bruce said: "The only resolution now is to find a third party. These kids can't keep running for the rest of their lives."

    General comments

    I think Dimbleby cutting short the answers to the question 'Could William Hague punch his way out of a paper bag?' is a disgusting way for a so-called chairman to behave. He asked the question of Portillo and Parris, both ex-Tory MPs who of course replied he was the answer to a maiden's prayer, but he didn't consider it important enough to ask the majority of the panel. What is this guy doing as chairman of this important programme?
    Bob Payne

    A very good debate from an outstanding panel this week, with minimal political pointmaking. Well done.
    Alan Smart

    Why is Michael Portillo considered a suitable panelist for Question Time? I really do not care in the slightest what a former cabinet minister who was so little thought of by his own constituents that he lost his seat, thinks about anything. I also object to my license fee being spent on what is effectively self publicity for a private individual who immediately after election night announced his intention to become a broadcast journalist and has obviously failed to achieve this aim.
    Emma Kane

    I thought that Emma Kane's comments about Mr Portillo were entirely unfair. This man has held high office - which is more than can be said for Ms Kane - and he probably will again. A lot of people listen to him. I for one wish him well and hope his TVcareer continues to blossom,as it has done in recent days.
    Sarah

    Thank you for making Question Time available online.
    Nick Syrett






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