Thursday 21 January, Leeds

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 21 January, Leeds

On the panel were:

  • David Trimble MP, First Minister, Northern Ireland assembly
  • Teresa Gorman MP, Conservative
  • Bill Morris, general secretary, Transport and General Workers' Union
  • Liz Lynne, former Liberal Democrat MP
  • Hilary Wainwright, editor, Red Pepper

    The British Medical Council's condemnation of new NHS restrictions on viagra

    Audience question: Isn't it right to prescribe the drug viagra only for men with proven physical or psychological need?

    Teresa Gorman said: "Frankly I think this whole policy of Frank Dobson's has been a complete flop."

    Bill Morris said: "The Secretary of State's got a very difficult job ... There are other priorities that have got to be addressed within the National Health Service and someone has to make a decision ... There is only so much resource around and the doctors and those who proscribe have a responsibility to listen at least to what the Secretary of State has to say."

    Liz Lynne said: "The whole rationing debate has to be wide open for the public to take part in that, and viagra is just part of that rationing debate."

    David Trimble said: "You can't talk about clinical freedom against a situation where this costs an awful lot of money and drains resources away from other things."

    You said:

    It seems to me disgustingly selfish that so many should be so concerned about their sex lives, yet the only cure they're intrested in is the instant fix pop-a-pill option. I have talked to many pharmacists who are stunned by the behaviour of many GPs. Their complaints are normally along the lines of GPs living out of their books of available pills. By this track record it would appear that once a NHS prescribable impotency cure is available they will dose it out like candy or like low-level antibiotics are. Guidelines are needed. The present ones are far too strict and do not allow for many many cases where there may be no other solution. In such cases doctors should be able to prescribe it, but only as a last resort, rather than the quick fix.
    Iain Mulady

    It's time that prescriptions for lifestyle and advanced drugs were paid for by patients in the UK. Where do they think the line should be drawn for healthcare services? It is no longer the 1950s - costs have moved on, but expectations have increased, not decreased. We are UK health professionals working in Canada, where there is still a National Health service - up to a point!
    Rob Livingstone

    Should drugs (like Viagra) be available through the NHS? There are two questions implied here: a) should properly registered drugs be available? My view is YES. b) Should the NHS pay for them all? Here I think we could learn from the Belgians, where the Ministry classifies drugs into A,B or C categories and presciption costs vary accordingly on a percentage of the cost of the drug. The critically important drugs for serious conditions involve virtually no cost to the patient and the lesser clinically necessary drugs are supported less. Some drugs without the ABC grading are precribed and there is no payment by the state and the patient is responsible for the full cost. There are separate provisions to ensure the poor get appropriate support.
    C.M. Brooke, Belgium

    Here we are discussing spending taxpayers' money to fight the impotency of the well-fed, And at the same time we are grudging help to keep alive the unfed millions - who happen to have no impotency problem. Is it not just a tiny bit unreasonable? Of course I am 57 and still going fine, thank you, but I do not think that the State should take over all our individual shortcomings.
    J. Pailler

    It is not the duty of the NHS to give men erections. In fact there are far to many erections in the country already. They cause a vast number of problems in society and we don't need more.

    I firmly believe British doctors are right to ignore current gudelines. As as ex-theatre sister, I firmly believe that Viagra should be prescibed by GPs at their discretion. If this was given a general license for sale, then it should be available generally.

    How can a minister dictate what drugs a doctor can or cannot prescribe to a patient? Surely only the doctor can say what will benefit a patient. and as for "recreational drugs" what about all the drug addicts that get substitutes on the NHS for a "self inflicted problem"? I think that Viagra should be available on the NHS, but only after consultation with the "experts".
    Roy Fairhurst

    Viagra should only be available on private prescription. It's a complete waste of money. Not being able to have sex doesn't really affect your quality of life in the way a hip that needs replacing would.
    Ian Newton

    I feel anyone with a provable medical condition which could cause impotency should be prescribed Viagra if requested.
    Valerie Clayton

    My wife has a life threatening illness and our interaction with the NHS over the last two years has shown it to be stretched to breaking point. Spending huge sums of money on treatments for non-life threatening illnesses such as those that require Viagra is appalling to us.
    Neil Williamson

    Impotence: solving the problems:

  • Viagra is clinically trialled with a 78% success rate and side effects in 3%
  • Unregulated supply is causing deaths as Viagra is _prescribed_ by post
  • The NHS cannot afford to prescribe it freely and there is current discord over guidelines
  • A new treatment called Intimate system is independently clinically trialled (double-blind placebo controlled) at over 80% success with no side effects
  • It is cheaper and more readily available without a prescription
  • It is in the public interest to let people know about this new and natural system as it is the only clinically proven alternative
    David Shaw

    If the argument is about viagra, then discuss viagra, not the whole drug rationing system. To encompass all drugs, and there are a vast number of them, in one argument shows only the use of an enclosed and insular mind. Viagra is a drug that should only be placed on prescription if there are possible side effects or long-term damages that GP control can help people to avoid. If the side effects are medically proven to be harmless and that steady usage (as if they were headache tablets - not used all the time, but when necessary) does not cause damage, then they should be off-the-shelf. Either way, the cost should be the same. People pay for antibiotics on prescription and they pay for paracetemol that is off-the-shelf. The question is really about how damaging the drug is.
    Paul Charters

    I do not think that Viagra should be available on the NHS. There are too many other more serious an life-threatening diseases/conditions that require drugs the NHS will not prescribe because of the cost. If someone wants Viagra then they should pay for it privately. The NHS is stretched enough without prescribing drugs like this.
    Gillian Dyer

    I respect the situation and anxieties of genuine patients suffering from potency problems, but I am concerned that Viagra should be prescribed very carefully. If it is to enhance potency, what guarantees are there that we will not see a rise in rapes or other sex crimes? Could a prescribing doctor be held to share the blame if his patient were found to be later responsible for such an offence? I think so.
    Rev. Richard Dwyer

    I remember when the Tories were in power they blamed the Labour Government of the seventies for most of the country's ills for at least 10 years. It is bit rich for Teresa Gorman to blame the current crisis in the NHS on the present Labour Government after years of neglect.
    William Patey

    Frank Dobson is right. Priorities must be set for the NHS budget and Viagra should not be one of them.
    Gerry Cook, Petersfield, Hants

    Yes - quite right. But anybody else should be able to buy it with their own money.
    James Miller

    Paddy Ashdown's decision to resign as Liberal Democrat leader in June

    Audience question: Do the panel believe who leads the Liberal Democrats really matters in British politics today?

  • Is this the end of the centre-left alliance?

    David Trimble said: "One of the big questions over the course of the next five years or so, although the Tories don't I think fully realise it yet, is whether they can fend off the Liberal Democrats, because they do have a serious challenge. .I'm really puzzled at the timing of this ... if you announce it six months in advance then the politicking within the party will run all that six months."

    Liz Lynne said: "We've got PR for the Euro elections, we've got constitutional change, we've got a lot of things we wanted."

    Teresa Gorman said: "Of course it doesn't matter, because they're in bed with the Labour Party. Paddy was Tony's poodle ... He [Ashdown] told Tony Blair a year and a half ago that he was going. What a pity he didn't tell his members of Parliament."

    Bill Morris said: "On social policies, Labour campaigned on a platform and a manifesto but when it comes to major policies on constitutional issues like reform of the House of Lords or a voting system, it is right and proper that we seek all-party support."

    Hilary Wainwright said: "The Liberals should never have got involved in a Cabinet committee ... the Lib Dem leadership has been neutralised. In a way that's what Tony Blair wanted I think, to sort of buy them off in a way."

    You said:

    Is it not really the case, as Teresa Gorman said, that Paddy Ashdown has been forced out, because of growing unrest at the lack of leadership he has offered the Liberal Democrats? He has been drawn away from his own beliefs by his now master, Tony Blair, who says 'jump' and all his faithful dog Paddy says is, 'how high?'. The time has come for the Liberals to offer what they said at the election, something distinctive from Labour. How will the Liberals feel, if they are being used by Blair to share the blame when out-of-control spending etc puts an even bigger dent in this country's economy. To say that there is a centre-left consensus between the Liberals and Labour is nothing but a myth: Labour is much more centre-right. Now Ashdown knows he is not going to be offered a cabinet post, nor is he getting PR for Westminster, - surely he should have known 100+ Labour MPs would not vote to abolish themselves - he's quietly claiming excess credit for a job he couldn't do, before everything blows up in his face and he is forced to go. So I wish the Liberal Democrats a sucessful search for some overdue leadership.
    Mr Mohammed Z Saddique

    The Northern Ireland peace process

    Audience question: Do the panel agree with William Hague that the release of convicted terrorists in Northern Ireland should be stopped until the ceasefire is complete?

    Hilary Wainwright said: "No, because I think that both sides agree that the release of prisoners is a crucial confidence building exercise ... The continued release of prisoners is absolutely essential."

    David Trimble said: "Prisoner releases are a very difficult part of the agreement and we accepted the agreement as a whole and we knew that there was this difficult part in it, but the prisoner release scheme is not something that is an absolute that government is totally bound by. The actual release scheme has flexibility within it"
    On continuing violence in Northern Ireland:
    "One thing that really disturbed me about Tony Blair's replies to William Hague on wednesday is he almost seemed to be saying that this is legitimate, that this is permitted. And we can't permit this sort of situation."

    Bill Morris said: "My understanding is that these releases are not automatic, they only take place with a certain degree of security clearing and they take place on good advice. We can only trust those people, because they are better placed than we are and on that basis the releases should not stop."

    Liz Lynne said: "What I find so disappointing is the breakdown of all-party consensus on this."

    Mick Jagger's claim that he and Jerry Hall were never married

  • The issue: marriage versus cohabitation

    Audience question: Should the absence of a marriage certificate cost Jerry Hall 30m?

    Liz Lynne said: "I was quite interested to know why Jerry Hall's millions weren't going to be thrown into the equation as well because she's a millionairess in her own right and I think they should really pool the resources and then split it down the middle."

    Teresa Gorman said: "What a creep he is, what a creep. Twenty years they've lived together, they've got four children. I hope she takes him to the cleaners."

    Bill Morris said: "Whatever happens there's a family there, children there and of course there's the institution itself, so in the end it has to be resolved and it should be resolved on the basis of equity."

    David Trimble said: "In terms of cohabitation and marriage a lot of people now are cohabiting and it's partly because of the way things have evolved in terms of our tax structures and other structures that we're not giving enough support to marriage, and it is actually important.

    General comments

    Thank you very much for broadcasting Question Time online. Very much appreciated indeed.
    Daniel Elmes, British living in Canada

    Please revert to four panellists as soon as possible. With five, and too-numerous interjections from the audience, each member is only heard for a very short period of time. It also doesn't help that one or more of the panellists nowadays is not a serious politican, more likely an uninformed extremist, like Paul Heaton for example. And invariably they are left-wingers, spouting bland idealism rather than facts. This dumbing down of a fine programme risks making it undistinguishable from half a dozen others. Please return to four (or three) sensible, wordly panellists.
    R Lewin

    Is it the BBC's intention that only the unemployed should watch Question Time? In my opinion it is one of the most important and enlightening political programs on the box. Video recording it loses the freshness. I fell asleep during the program again last night and in future will only be watching if it starts no later than 10.30 - or is that the intention? Put it on so late that no-one watches, then scrap it because the ratings are so low.
    Neal Johnston

    I am very disappointed at the very late hour you are showing this season. I cannot be alone in thinking that 12.35am is too late to turn in when work beckons tomorrow. Next week's programme is little better. Is the series on its way out? In the days of Robin Day the programme was on at 10pm. It is very disappointing - I shall miss the programme and have to rely instead on Any Questions on Radio 4.
    Rob Ticehurst

    That's about it for me. Question Time has lost it's way. The concept of including 'celebrity' members on the panel has made the program more akin to the hideous "Thursday Night Live" being shown on ITV. I felt very sorry for David Trimble. While I may not agree with him on a number of points, I respect his views and informed opinions, whereas a lightweight like Hilary Wainwright just makes me want to cringe. Please revert to the old format. I accept it was more party political, but I suggest it was rather more informed. If, as promised, next week's edition includes the editor of Cosmo and a fish cook I might as well go down to my local because the opinion there will be just as well informed (and valid) as that of the lightweights that we appear to keep getting these days.
    Andy Baker

    Question Time is boring because it only ever has one of two people on the show who challenge the market system: Paul Foot and Tony Benn. It seems the system at the BBC doesn't acknowledge the anger there is on the streets and in workplaces over how we are being short-changed.
    Antony Savvas

    Please pass on my appreciation for the show and thank GOODNESS its on the internet.
    Rod Humble, USA

    As a long time enjoyer of Question Time I have rarely seen such a disgraceful programme. Three shrill women all vying to shout each other down until they were all totally incomprehensible. The chairman allowing this, to the detriment of the other two MALE panellists both of whom had important and sensible contributions which were just dismissed and a rabid audience of lefties who made a concerted effort to undermine and humiliate Theresa Gorman (I am surprised she stayed). It just shows how low all politicians (with the exception of David Trimble) are prepared to sink to achieve an often spurious party political point.
    Robin Griffiths

    Teresa Gorman should be on a comedy show rather than participating in a serious political debate. But she is quite amusing!
    James Miller

    Hate the set. Get it sorted for the next series, please.
    Matt Armer

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