April 13, Edinburgh

March 30, Belfast

March 23, Maidstone

March 16, Truro

March 9, Nottingham

March 2, London

February 24, Leeds

February 17, London

February 10, Birmingham

February 3, Brussels

January 27, Southampton

January 20, Liverpool

January 13, London

December 16, Leeds

December 9, Manchester

December 2, Cardiff

November 25, Birmingham

November 18, Durham

November 11, Maidstone

November 4, Glasgow

October 28, Southampton

October 21, London

October 14, Sydney

October 7, Manchester

September 30, Bournemouth

September 23, London

July 15, Belfast

July 8, London

July 1, Birmingham


April 13, Edinburgh

You can join Question Time's internet debate by emailing your views on the topics discussed in last week's programme to: questiontime@bbc.co.uk

Your emails and a selection of comments from the panel are published on this page.

You can watch the latest programme in Real Video by clicking on Latest edition.

On the programme this week were:

  • Dennis Canavan MP and MSP, Independent, Falkirk West
  • Henry McLeish MP, MSP, and minister in the Scottish Executive
  • Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish National Party MSP and MP
  • Ian Rankin, bestselling novelist
  • Clarissa Dickson Wright, TV chef

The topics discussed were:

Holocaust deniers as criminals?

Audience Question: Do the panel believe there is a case for a criminal offence of Holocaust denial in this country?

Dennis Canavan: There may well be a case for introducing such an offence. There should be time for reflection before bringing criminal law into this. I understand public opinion about David Irving and him being exposed as a liar and a racist.

Ian Rankin: At the moment we don't even try some alleged war criminals. The writer in me wants to defend free speech. But if you took it to court you'd be giving them more publicity.

Clarissa Dickson Wright: I'm a passionate believer in free speech. Once you hand it over to politicians who chooses what's acceptable or not? When I was 18 I walked out of a service in Dublin Cathedral when I heard the Holocaust being denied.

Roseanna Cunningham: We should encourage people like Irving to make complete idiots of themselves. We would not want to drive it underground. I don't know why the current race relations legislation couldn't be used against him.

Henry McLeish: The right to free speech should be safeguarded. We have the same problem with the BNP for example.

You said:

As a trained historian, it comes as no surprise to me, that David Irving's preposterous posturings have arisen, since our contemporary visually-driven culture has for a very long time deliberately fudged historical fact and fiction via television and cinema. "Titanic", "JFK", "Nixon", "Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan", and, just recently, "Boys Don't Cry" are just six examples. None of these otherwise entertaining spectacles serve the cause of accurate history despite many vigorous claims to the contrary by their producers.
Peter Tooth, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

In case anyone believed Clarissa Dickson Wright on the Armada not being taught in Spanish schools, may I say that I was told about it at school myself some 20 years ago, even shortly after Gen. Franco's death.
Fernando Cortes, Edinburgh

While I completely and utterly oppose David Irving's views and his general attitudes, it is a sophisticated argument and it is very unclear that the Judge had a true understanding of the issues and the nature of the evidence. The panel simply had no clue whatsoever. Of course, laws cannot determine historical truth or falsehood, so a law determining that a particular view of history is illegal is truly absurd.
Professor Christoph Bluth, Leeds

I found Clarrisa Dickson Wright's comment extremely offensive. She implied that the Catholic Church as a whole denies the Holocaust, which it most certainly does not. During the Second World War the Catholic Church did a lot to help the Jews.
Miss J. Kingston, Woking

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What price a Scottish Parliament?

Audience Question: Would the people of Scotland have voted for the Scottish Parliament if they had known how much the building alone would cost?

Roseanna Cunningham: Maybe if some of the politicians had been more honest at the start... Currently they're completing an office block at Westminster which will cost more money than the entire Scottish Parliament. I don't think it will be a building suitable to an independent Scotland.

Henry McLeish: The Scottish people would have voted yes. We campaigned for this for a 100 years. Things could have been managed better but we now want effective management of the project.

Clarissa Dickson Wright: In a country that has more granite than anywhere else why do we have to use Chinese granite. I voted for the parliament but while there are problems still to be resolved they should stay in a Nissen hut.

Ian Rankin: Decsions were made badly: very quickly and too early. The site and architect were chosen for political reasons.

Dennis Canavan: Yes, I think the people would have voted for it anyway, but that's no excuse for the escalating costs. There are other alternatives. The Royal High School site was earmarked way back in the 1970s.

You said:

I think the Parliament should be built outside the centre of Edinburgh and should not cost 200m. It should be sited in Stirling, not exactly in the centre-belt but just outside. Good access etc. It should not cost anywhere near the price being quoted. If it goes ahead the price should be capped by law.
Richard Fergusson, Largs

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Playing the xenophobic card

Audience Question: Is xenophobia a vote-winner?

Clarissa Dickson Wright: It is a very easy vote winner. It's rather on a par with fox hunting. It's something that needs to be addressed in a calm, clear light. Something politicians seem unable to do.

Dennis Canavan: Some politicians imagine that xenophobia is a vote winner. Enoch Powell was thrown out from the shadow cabinet all these years ago for using language like that used in the Conservative local election pamphlets. Some of the actions of the Labour government are discriminatory against people of other races. No wonder some of them are begging in the streets.

Henry McLeish: When elected to public service you have a responsibility to be careful about what you say. If you look at other countries in Europe refugees have increased. I ask for a measured debate. The voucher system is just one part of a very generous package on offer.

Roseanna Cunningham: It's clear from political parties south of the border that xenophobia is increasingly employed. The voucher system is stigmatising folk. No change from vouchers is encouraging profiteering. We have to remember we are dealing with real people here. Scotland has a static if not declining population and is not full up. This is a country made up of immigrants.

Ian Rankin: We used to have this idea in Scotland that we have no place for racism we only have bigotry. Unfortunately we have both. I was scandalised by the way the media treated the people bussed up from London to Glasgow.

You said:

It is disgusting but sadly unsurprising that people's misfortunes are being distorted to further political ends. However, I do not disagree with the proposition of issuing vouchers so long as the scheme is extended to ALL benefit recipients within the UK. This would in my opinion go some way to reducing a number of social problems including benefit fraud and drug abuse etc. By extending the scheme in this way we could maybe prevent us from becoming a country of racists.
Roz Janes, Birmingham

Finally, some reasoned compassion for asylum seekers. I've been wondering where to relocate, while seemingly much of England, (currently embracing values instigated by the appalling Jack Straw) continues its descent to values to the right of Enoch Powell. Now I know. I can nip across the border to the country I was born. Thank you BBC and thank you Scotland for a most reassuring show.
David Knopfler, The Home Counties

I was appalled at the left-wing bias of both the panel and the audience. Apparently it is racist to talk of a flood of illegal immigrants (which those of us who live in Dover know to be true), but not racist to want to exclude foreign companies from British contracts. Tonight's programme, with its five left-wing panellists, resembled a Labour Party fringe meeting.
Barney Smith, University of St Andrews

The Truck Acts were repealed by that saviour of our country Margaret Thatcher......ouch!
Mido

I would like to know how Jack Straw thinks the voucher system for asylum seekers is any different from the yellow star of the Jews in Germany? Had some principles didn't you once Jack?
Mike Parker, Belper, Derbyshire

When are the Conservatives going to realise that by presenting themselves as a party of xenophobes and playing on the fears of the public, is not only morally and ethically wrong, but bordering on the point of RACISM.
Ryhan Clarke, Witney

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Govan and the MOD

Audience Question: Is it not scandalous that MOD contracts can be placed outside the UK?

Henry McLeish: There's no row in Scotland. Everyone wants the order to go to Govan. We want to see capacity remain in Glasgow. We have to retain a united front on this. We should be optimistic and fight hard. In an independent Scotland there would be no MOD contracts.

Ian Rankin: Germany are using cheap Eastern labour. As an MOD contract it should go to the UK.

Clarissa Dickson Wright: Yes, it would be scandalous.

Roseanna Cunningham: If Govan don't get this order then, Govan will be New Labour's Ravenscraig. One of the reasons we're in such difficulty is the strength of the pound.

Dennis Canavan: It's not good enough for the government to hide behind European rules and regulations. In the West of Scotland 10,000 jobs or more are at risk here. We cannot have government ministers standing by.

You said:

We seem to forget that even if building these ships in the UK is more expensive, it is still cheaper for 'UK plc' as the money remains in this country and is recycled in many ways. For instance, Income tax, VAT, retail sales and so on. If this is compared with the cost of supporting an unemployed person, around 9,000 per year, even if the MOD has to pay 30-40% more due to the high exchange rate, it would still be financially prudent - wouldn't it?
Ken Wright, Workington

The strength of Sterling is a ridiculous argument put forward by manufacturing industry for lack of investment. Over a lengthy time period, the pound has steadily devalued against the dollar and major European currencies. The fact is that a better product can be manufactured abroad; in that case the MOD should purchase abroad. Would you have your son or daughter in uniform in the best ship available or the British built ship?
Simon Banks

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GM Scottish salmon?

Audience Question: Do you believe any self-respecting Scottish salmon would be prepared to share spawning ground with any GM alternative?

Ian Rankin: We're potentially we're already getting them from the output of Sellafield washing up our west coast. When we've got such good food already it seems to be why do we need it? It's now affordable to most families.

Clarissa Dickson Wright: If salmon's growing to 12 feet in that time think what it would do the person eating it. I'm not against farmed salmon but I'm opposed to genetic modification anyway. We don't know nearly enough about it. It's all being driven by the worst types of industry.

Henry McLeish: We have a very good product and we don't need it. This kind of activity doesn't do anything for people here. I'm happy to see certain GM experiments but not this one.

Roseanna Cunningham: I wish scientists would stop mucking about with our food and I would encourage everyone to support farmers' markets.

Dennis Canavan: I'm sceptical about GM foods and am in favour of a moratorium on GM crops until we find out more.

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Crisis in Zimbabwe

Audience Question: Does talk of ethnic cleansing in Zimbabwe just make a bad situation worse?

Dennis Canavan: The British government should use diplomatic pressure on Mugabe. There were great hopes in the 1980 when Zimbabwe got its freedom. Over 70% of the good farmland is in the hands of white people so land reform is essential. Free and democratic elections are essential.

Ian Rankin: Land reform is essential but you can't do it overnight and just kick the army out. Hopefully it won't work and we'll get a change of government.

Roseanna Cunningham: Land reform is a hugely important issue and was set to one side during the decolonisation process. We're also selling military hardware in Zimbabwe. I hope nothing anyone says in the UK adversely affects the situation.

Clarissa Dickson Wright: It would be very ironic if a government which fails to support its own farmers should support farmers over there. Its nave not to have expected it to happen. White farmers should have expected it.

Henry McLeish: There's a near state of panic in Mugabe's camp about the forthcoming elections. The intimidation will probably escalate until then.

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General comments:

With Scotland lurching towards independence under the present Scot dominated UK government what is the future of the Army and its very large Scottish contingent, will the Black Watch and Royal Scots become 1st Battalion Salmonds Soldiers? As an ex-soldier I am only too aware of all the parties' lip service to 'our wonderful men and women in green' and the reality of their policies to degrade our Armed Forces to PC Boy Scouts armed with nothing but lethal rubber bands and copies of the European Working Time regulations!
Jonathan Trigg, Frankfurt

The only person worth listening to tonight was Clarissa Dickson Wright whose intelligence shines like a bright light and whose honesty is refreshing.
Camilla, a weekly viewer

Ian Rankin: What are John Rebus's politics?
Andrew Watters, Edinburgh

Your programme tonight denied the viewpoint of the Conservative Party whilst allowing comments hostile to it to be made unchallenged. You also dismissed the question of the audience member who asked whether the SNP and Scottish Parliament were xenophobic in themselves - why was this?
Tim Wallis

I heard of the possibility that the coronation of future kings/queens might be a non-Christian ceremony. It is about time our government voiced its support for our Royal Family in its role as head of the Church of England. If the various religions and cultures that are now present in our country wish to take part let them do so by showing support for our Royal Family, culture and respect for their religious beliefs/status in the same way that we hopefully try to respect them and their cultural beliefs.
Lee Murden, Hull

The coalition in Scotland has led to many Liberal Democrat MSPs taking the Labour line in votes to preserve their 15 minutes of fame. Having already capitulated on student tuition fees can we expect Liberal Democrat MSPs to start voting with their conscience and not following the blind lead of Labour?
Mike Kilpatrick, Montrose

Will England Scotland and Wales now be able to enter their own football teams in the Olympics?
Oliver Norris, Essex

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