November 25, Birmingham

November 18, Durham

November 11, Maidstone

November 4, Glasgow

October 28, Southampton

October 21, London

October 14, Sydney

October 7, Manchester

Thursday 30 September, Bournemouth

Thursday 23 September, London

Thursday 15 July, Belfast

Thursday 8 July, London

Thursday 1 July, Birmingham

Thursday 24 June, Leeds

Thursday 17 June, Manchester

Thursday 10 June, Birmingham

Thursday 3 June, Norwich

Thursday 27 May, Bath

Thursday 20 May, Belfast

Thursday 13 May, Birmingham

Thursday 29 April, London

Thursday 22 April, Glasgow

Thursday 15 April, Cardiff

Thursday 25 March, Sheffield

Thursday 18 March, London

Thursday 11 March, Manchester

Thursday 4 March, Maidstone

Thursday 25 February, London

Thursday 22 April, Glasgow

On the panel:

  • Donald Dewar MP, Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Alex Salmond MP, National Convenor, Scottish National Party
  • Jim Wallace MP, leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats
  • David McLetchie, leader, Scottish Conservative Party

    Devolution for England?

    Audience question: With all the money being spent on think tanks and spin doctors, has anyone got around to asking the West Lothian question?

    David McLetchie said: "Most people in Scotland, having our own parliament, do think it's anomalous that Scottish MPs in the House of Commons will be able to vote on matters relating education health and housing [in England]. It does indeed go to the root of devolution."

    Donald Dewar said: "I don't see anything threatening in the present situation ... We've answered the wishes of Scotland, I think we've strengthened the Union."

    Jim Wallace said: "It's up to the English. I'm not going to prescribe for the English whether they have regional assemblies or an English parliament. But I believe that is the logical destination of where we've started."

    Alex Salmond said: "There should be zero Scottish MPs at Westminster and I think the people of England should be self-governing. And I know some people doubt that England could sustain itself as an independent country. But I've got no doubts. I've got no doubts at all, I know they could do it."

    You said:

    Independence for Scotland is long overdue. It about time we were allowed to make our own decisions. Don't let the English decide for us. SCOTLAND IS AND SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE LAND OF THE FREE!
    Mark Paton

    Being Welsh myself and knowing that my famliy left my homeland, purely for economic reasons, I envy Scotland. I've always wanted Wales to become independent, largely because I feel that essentially, everything America says and does Britian does too. But economicaly Wales is terrible. High unemployment compared to the rest of Britian and a much lower average wage have left Wales the Ethiopia of the United Kingdom. Our government seems to respond to this by telling us that we need more investment and the only solution to our economic problems is if we sell everything to the Americans, Germans and the Japanese. I look at Ireland, which now has a higher standard of living than Britian and wonder if Wales could achieve the same thing. It rather reminds me of Finland, whose economy crashed in the early 1990s and went from 3% unemployment to 20% in just three years. The Finnish government panicked and tried desperately to stabalise the economy. Eventually they decided to subsidise higher technology. This was the greatest decision they ever made and its caused the Finnish economy to grow by 25% in the past 5 years. The hero and savier of Finland, was Nokia, a company founded in 1865 developing the forestry business. It's an amazing acomplishment for Finland as today one in four mobile phones anywhere in the world comes from one of the smallest economies in the entire developed world. I hoped that when Tony Blair came to power he would start subsidising higher technology too, and he did, only he gave money to Seimens, hardly a British company. It's happening again today with Rover. I look at my country today and think there is so much potential in Wales yet the government does nothing. Scotland is lucky, our pro-independence parties are all so extremist that no one would vote for them. At least Scotland has a future.
    Owen Williams, 18

    In all the various discussions on nationalism within the boundaries of the UK, there appears to be very little discussion of people like me. I have an English father and a Scottish mother. I've lived on both sides of the border. I support Scotland in Rugby, but England in football. In Kent they think my accent is Scottish, In Glasgow they think my accent is English. By the definition of most nationalists I've met, I'm neither wholly Scots nor wholly English; I'm British by default. I can't possibly be unique - so where are the loyalties of people like me supposed to lie in hypothetical Great Britain of independent nation states?
    Alasdair Brooks, York

    The SNP has made it clear they just want to divorce Scotland. That would cause many small businesses like mine to go under due to high left wing tax policies of the SNP.
    M Harrats

    I think it's disgusting how England is being taken advantage of in the process of devolution. I don't know why Labour had to carry out devolution, as things were fine with the state of the union before Labour took power. Frankly I believe that Labour only got elected, not for their policies, but just to get the Conservative party out of government. I think England is getting a very bad deal when it comes to devoluton and if Scotland wants its own paliament, why on earth do Scottish MPs still get decide what happens in England, while we have no say what happens in Scotland? I think the English are being too reserved and laid back about this and we should start to stand up and celebrate our own nationality like the Scots and the Welsh and every other damn country in the world.
    Tomas Edwards

    What single reason is there now for England not to devolve?. Or is it because the Conservatives would lead the English assembly and Tony wouldnt like that? Instead we are condemned to become 8 anodyne euro regions, whilst our British compatriots can vote on our issues but not we on theirs.
    Brian Singleton

    The British are fighting for a very broad autonomy for Kosovo. They should give at least the same autonomy to Scotland. That would give the Scots a much greater say within their country.
    Walter Miesenboeck

    What is the position of the Scottish National Party with regards to military cooperation with England and Wales? Would an independent Scottland support continued integration of Scots in the British Armed Forces? If not, why not?
    Eric Swanson

    Independance for England! Away from the dead weight of the whinging Scottish, England would be one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
    Chris Milburn

    I think the issue of whether the UK should break up or not depends on how much further Britain integrates into the EU. It may be better in 'British' interests to integrate politically as 4 separate 'European states' - each having it's own veto powers. Surely this would give us more power and say in European policy if we 'split' before integrating any further. On the other hand, if we do not, I believe it would be a bad idea. I believe this is also what some members of the government are thinking, and that is why we are heading down this track.
    Neil Lees

    I feel that independence for Scotland would be a bad idea as it would weaken the position of Britain in the world.
    Luke Smith

    It seems that the English have long chosen for themselves the role of the US pawn (which is a pity given the country's history). The Scots have any right to stay away from that. Go on Scotland! Shelter the pride and democratic tradition of England which is being expelled from its birth country! I'd also like to say that Scottish independence will also be beneficial for England because it'll help its people realise that there's no empire any more and consequently they'll choose the role of an equal partner in Europe rather than that of a docile US servant.
    N. Missoulis

    I think it's time Scotland was an independent country again. The English seem to use England and the UK interchangeably which is annoying. The English media concentrate on England Just look at the front page of this website - there is an article "How English are you?". I thought this was the BBC not the EBC. It's time for Scots to go our own way and reassert ourselves. The Irish have in the Republic, why can't we?
    George Waddell

    It is about time Scotland got independence. It is not quaint sentimentality. It is about Scotland getting the same opportunities as other countries. We are being governed from London. How can these London MPs know what is best for Scotland? If they did, we wouldn't be paying for an education! Scotland needs a Scottish Parliament and a Scottish Party. Alex Salmond gets my vote any day.
    Pauline Grieve

    Who cares? Do the Scots really care?Do the English or Welsh care? If a referendum shows a majority in favour of independence then so be it. If the majority want it and it is refused, then what are we doing in Kosovo?
    Stuart Allen

    Freedom for Scotland in 1999. It's about time ... do it!
    Ramon Espinosa

    I think the push for devolution for England should be top of the list of priorities for the Conservative Party. This is the issue that could rebuild their relevance and strength throughout England. The issue is clear, why should Scotland send MPs to Westminster who have a veto over English legislation? I think Tony Blair would even have to admit that this is grossly undemocratic - if he could be honest that is. Scotland is right to push for its own parliament and is right to openly debate on where it wants to head as regards independence, but the English are entitled to the same debate. The first priority of a new Conservative Government should be to redraw the constituency boundaries thus reducing the level of Scottish 'over-representation' at Westminster. The second should be to ban Scottish MPs from speaking in English debates and voting on English legislation. This will bring fairness to the devolved UK.
    Matthew Claxton

    I am a supporter of English nationalism. Why wait for the Scots to abandon the Union? Let us have independence for England, with the financial benefits that will follow.
    Graham Torode

    I hope the Scottish MPs will have enough integrity to abstain from voting at Westminster on issues that relate only to England - after all, they are the ones that want to stop English MPs influencing Scottish affairs. I also presume that the reason this wasn't passed into law when Labour set up the Scottish Parliament, is that most of the votes lost at Westminster would be from Labour MPs. I believe it is high time that English culture and needs were given more prominent in the UK. Certainly in New Zealand the tendency is to denigrate the English, whilst praising the Scottish, Welsh and Irish.
    Gary Jordan, Englishman, New Zealand

    To Mr Salmond: Patiently arguing for peaceful and democratic constitutional change can be a very ungrateful task. It leaves one exposed to the lowest kinds of criticisms, from all sides of the political spectrum. That is unfortunate, the civility of your approach has clearly not been granted the praises it deserves. Your Scotland, like my native Quebec, is a country that deserves to be born. Good luck to you.
    Mathieu Ayotte, joint enrolment Cambridge and Harvard universities

    Talk of "an independent Scotland within Europe" is such sickening hypocrisy. The SNP are happy for Scotland to be in a union as long as that union isn't with England. What right has anyone got to take part of my country away from me? My grandfather was born in Scotland, my grandmother bore a Welsh name, my maternal family has roots in the Midlands and from the Hugeonot settlers. These are all parts of me, and to think their being unravelled would be a forward step is an insult to my sense of identity.
    Michael Kilpatrick

    I fail to see the point of increased separation between England and Scotland in a time of growing global interdependence. More so in light of the increased centralisation of power occurring through the European Union. What is the point of breaking England and Scotland apart and then essentially reunifying at the European level? I fail to see the logic.
    Henrique Andrews

    The most apparent reason politicians wish for independence is the opportunity to pursue personal power and wealth. On the other hand, the "commoner" living in Caledonia will be subjected to another layer of politics, another plethora of politicians and the "right" to pay additional taxes to finance someone's folly and/or political career. Take it from one who lives in the States and supports at least seven governmental bodies with his taxes. There is little, if any, benefit derived from having more government. Being of Scottish descent, I would like to believe that the people of Scotland have the common sense to remain in a strong and united Great Britain.
    WR Edmiston

    As some one who normally lives in Edinburgh I think it would be devastating for Scotland to allow the mad socialists of the SNP to gain power and force independence. They have no long-term policies and forget that the oil is running out. Revenues are down and getting lower. How does Salmond expect to pay for bringing back student grants, scrapping tuition fees, increasing grants to 70s levels, opening embassies, paying for defence, increasing pensions, decommissioning nuclear power stations, building non-nuclear power stations, increasing social security payments, etc, etc when the money from oil duty is now only 2b?
    Dave Richards, student, Royal Melbourne Institute

    What purpose would independence for Scotland serve? In an unbalanced world where the terms are increasingly being dictated by the USA, only large united blocks can survive. Independence from the UK just means falling under someone else's influence. What can Scotland possibly achieve by itself? We are trying to build a united Europe, but how will that ever happen if we begin by fragmenting it even further?
    Nicolas Jarraud

    As an Englishman married to a Scot, surely it must be time to remove all the Scots from the Cabinet.
    Miles Butler

    Scottish Parliament

    Audience question: In view of the recent high costings of independence, shouldn't the SNP be telling us about the Scottish sixpence rather than the Scottish penny?

    David McLetchie said: "The agenda that the SNP pursues for the Scottish economy is a high-tax, high-spend, big government policy, which frankly would lead to lower employment in Scotland and lower public services. I wholeheartedly support the concept of Scotland remaining a partner in the United Kingdom."

    Alex Salmond said: "Economically Scotland's a very good bet indeed."

    Donald Dewar said: "There is an enormous silence about the economic strategy for independence from the nationalists."

    Jim Wallace said: "The question at the end of the day, is not whether Scotland could stand on its own two feet or not. The question is what is the cost of doing so? And are there other costs which are not necessarily quantified in money terms?"

    You said:

    The economic arguments are meaningless - for as in any partnership or relationship, when one of the parties starts to resent the other and believes it would do better alone, it is time to end the partnership or relationship in the most amicable way available. In the case of Scotland, just like Quebec, maybe the time has come for separation, whether it be good for the Scots or not.
    Michael Barry, New York

    Why is this debate limited to independence for Scotland? All the arguments in favour of Scotland focus on why it would be worse off if it were independent; usually a result of less money coming in from other parts of the UK. I have yet to hear any forward-looking argument that purports to show that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, that is that we are all better off in a United Kingdom than as a group of separate nations. Let's have a nationwide referendum on breaking up the UK in which EVERYONE, not just the Scots, can have their say.
    Bill Tarrant

    Denver school massacre

    Audience question: Is the internet a greater threat to the American people than their gun laws?

    Alex Salmond said: "The gun laws are the bigger threat in America ... It's a question of the opportunity to commit carnage and I think that opportunity is there if the gun laws are lax."

    David McLetchie said: "There are more guns than people in circulation in the United States and their record on gun control in recent years has been quite abysmal and it's something that I think has to be addressed quite seriously in that country. So far as the internet is concerned, I do think we have to have a look at how sites are policed ... but I'm not generally in favour of censorship."

    Jim Wallace said: "I think the guns are the greater danger. You can get information on the internet, but in fact it's actually having the mechanism, the guns, to deliver the damage, which is the real danger ... Let's not forget the power of good for the internet ... we actually can get truth into some countries where governments would otherwise try to suppress truth and information, and therefore the internet can be a great tool for good."

    Donald Dewar said: "In American politics, anyone who attacks the gun lobby, anyone who stands in the way of the freedom to have guns on an unlimited and unrestricted basis, is in deep political trouble. I do hope that in time people will perhaps re-think that approach and re-think that morality."

    You said:

    If someone has it in their head to do something they will, be it a few hundred dollars for an old-fashioned hand-held firearm, or a few hundred thousand (depending on the fundamentals) it's academic. They're gonna do it anyway - it's not the tools, but the users. Beware of your own sense of domination. I always say if you squeeze a balloon on one side it expands on the other - or explodes over all.
    Anne Bewey

    While at times it can be difficult to understand the logic of the more extreme American pro-gun activists, the comment by the leader of the Colorado Republicans that if the most recent concealed firearm legislation had been passed in Colorado, teachers would have been able to carry firearms and "perhaps" have prevented the Littleton massacre. Teachers shooting their students dead - while it may keep the body count down, it is hardly a satisfactory solution.
    Rupert Saper

    Giving someone instructions on how to manufacture a pipe bomb is not the same as giving them unrestricted access to a firearm and ammunition. Whilst the internet offers a quick and easy means through which to disseminate illicit material by those who chose to do so, it does not mean the internet is inherently bad. The internet simply reflects, and because of its speed and accessibility, magnifies all aspects of human life. During the early 1980s a text file entitled "The Terrorist Handbook", was freely disseminated through schools in the UK on floppy disk using the popular Commodore Amiga computer. I'm sure the same information would have been available, to those who cared to look, in printed form prior to the computer revolution.
    Simon Ward, Cornwall

    Guns themselves are not inherently evil, a gun itself can do no harm, it always takes someone to pull the trigger. People who wish to commit acts such as those witnessed in Denver will always find a way. As for the internet, I value the ability to express my opinion, to find information on obscure research issues (I'm a student). You might say that all information passed into the country could be screened for illegal information. An interesting idea that would not work for several reasons, the cost being one of the most significant, followed by the public outcry into the invasion of their privacy.
    R Styles

    The reason the law of owning guns is a very difficult debate for American senators to get into is that the right to have guns is part of the constitution and if you start to change the rules that were laid down then where do you stop?
    William Jones

    I am a teacher in the UK. On Monday, one of my pupils, who is an outsider, told me he would love to die by bombing a building. This was BEFORE the Colorado bombing. I dismissed his comments as teenage bravado. In the light of these events, I put myself in the place of the Colorado teachers, who probably had heard their students make these type of remarks, and like me, dismissed them as fantasy.
    Name withheld on request

    Don't get me wrong I'm not against gun control, but don't you think the criminal fraternity will always find a source for weapons? The problem isn't with the availability of weapons it's with the states of mind of the perpetrators.
    Graham Tully, Boldon Colliery

    Would you not agree that it is just as easy to walk into a library and find out how to make a bomb as it is to log onto the internet. You must have a computer first.
    Andy Hart

    Until the National Rifle Association is stopped very little can be done to resolve the issue of gun laws in America. The NRA are a powerful lobby whose power in Congress wealds a weight much greater than their true value.
    Paul Roche

    In a society where we would not allow, say, a policeman to pick up and read our post before we have read it, why, why then, do some people think that it's OK for authorities to be able to read our mail when it is sent electronically?
    Simon Newell

    I would suggest that the real cause for concern in this case is that a group of children (for that is what they were) were able to form a white-supremacist, devil-worshipping homicidal faction over a period of months, if not years, without apparently attracting any undue attention from any responsible and concerned adults, either in their families or their school.
    Steve Ford

    The internet was created by the US department of defence. If the US government cannot control Bill Gates and Microsoft, then what chance do they have of controlling the internet with the diverse way that it operates.
    Colin Gill

    I'd rather see kids hanging out in front of a computer screen where they can pick up positive influences, rather than street corners where the opportunity for positive stimulation is limited.
    Sarah Ewing

    If such a tragedy on the scale of this one still does nothing to change the American government's mind about gun controls, then it never will. And also I think the question has to be asked, why does the National Rifle Association have such an influence over Government Legislation? They are surely entitled to their opinion but surely not in the actual decision making of such an important and desperately needed piece of legislation.
    Stuart McPherson

    Spreading information to the masses is the best way of educating people. More people acquire productive knowledge from the internet than destructive.
    Paula Bennett

    Nato air strikes

    Audience question: Has Mr Milosevic been underestimated and should Nato concentrate their efforts on removing him rather than intensifying this war?

    David McLetchie said: "We've got to start what we finish. We owe that to the displaced Kosovans ... I think the Nato action has to be supported.
    [on whether ground troops are needed] I think the situation is changing, frankly, and the attitudes of all of us has to change in relation to the situation on the ground."

    Donald Dewar said: "We've got to stick to the essential aim, which is to bring a degree of security and stability to the people of Kosovo."

    Jim Wallace said: "It is clearly taking longer to have affect than was initially anticipated, but I don't think that necessarily made the action wrong ... You cannot rule out the use of ground troops."

    Alex Salmond said: "Just because 'something must be done' is not a reason for doing the wrong thing, and I think the bombing campaign was the wrong thing. Was Milosevic underestimated? Yes of course he was.
    [On his comments that Nato action was an "unpardonable folly"]: "I made these remarks because I believed them to be true. The politicians who make the decisions cannot be above criticism ... If we don't have that ability to speak our minds out, to say what we think, then what on earth are we fighting for if it's not that sort of democratic value?"

    You said:

    Bombing will not solve this problem. If Nato really wants to help these people, ground troops are a must. Without sending in ground troops, Nato have shown themselves to be tactically naive and unwilling to totally dedicate themselves to the cause.
    Jonathon Richards

    It is more than time to send ground troops. Otherwise, Kosovo will be empty soon. Here, some Serbs are trying to do public demonstrations because they don't agree with our involvement in the war. Bull!
    Michael Munger, Montreal, Canada

    The policy of UK and US regarding the Kosovo crisis is disgusting and barbaric. President Clinton said regarding the massacre in the Colorado high school: "We do know that we must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons." It is time to show this by example in the case of Kosovo.
    Alex Michael

    Nato has no legal right to bomb Yugoslavia. The international community does not recognise a policing role for Nato. If Nato is not stopped now, where is there selective criminal instinct going to take us next? Let's stop this bombing right now because the people of the UK want it NOW.
    Xenophon Christodoulou

    Journalists question the foresight of Blair and Clinton for ruling out the aggressive use of Nato ground troops in Kosovo. The media assumes that this was the wrong message to send to Milosevic. However, this message has never been addressed to Milosevic nor to western pacifists, but rather to President Yeltsin and his generals. Peace in Kosovo will require Russia's partnership.
    Nicholas Raden, London

    Donald seems to be getting very aggravated about his position on Kosovo. Is there anyone in parliament who has any idea of what they are doing in this situation? Can they make it clear so that we all know what to expect for the future? This speculation only seems to aid Milosevic's propaganda machine, which is exactly what he wants and what we should be avoiding. Sending in ground troops is now our only option.
    Pete Morrison

    Why is everyone underestimating the potential for massive escalation of this conflict? I won't be surprised to see this bizarre theatre turn into global chaos. Remember nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons are in the region, not under our control.
    Bryan Soulsby, Devon

    Nato should finish the conflict as soon as possible for the welfare of all civilians in the region. More help should be given to those who cannot help themselves.
    Ellie Bennett

    It was said in jest by Ian Hislop that we are fighting a war in which our aim is not to kill people, whilst ensuring that none of our people get killed. Is it not time Nato and the politicians injected a sense of realism into the situation and said that people will be killed, Western mothers will eventually lose sons, and that a ground war is inevitable but necessary if we wish to protect humanitarian principles in Europe.
    Steve Alderson

    General comments

    One of the best Question Times I have seen in a while - which surprised me, as an English person living in Scotland I usually find Scottish politics boring. I am regular viewer of Question Time and really enjoy it.
    J G Paterson

    I have to say how refreshing it was to watch a lively and entertaining debate on Question Time. You have to hand it to the English, they are experts at currents affairs. It is now apparent that a prime reason for the dour campaign in Scotland lies at the feet of the Scottish newsmedia, who seem more interested in headline analysis than content. No wonder Scottish politicians are now bypassing the media hacks. Another factor in the programme was the absence of media hostility towards nationalist politicians. David Dimbleby's professionalism and expertise is example to all Scots political broadcasters on how to handle serious debate.
    Malcolm McCandless

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