April 27, Newcastle

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 27, Newcastle

Your emails and a selection of the panellists comments are published on this page. You can still watch the latest programme online in Real Video by clicking on Latest edition.

Last week's panel included:

  • Geoff Hoon MP, Secretary of State for Defence
  • Lord Lamont, former Chancellor of the Exchequor
  • Liz Lynne MEP, Liberal Democrats
  • Sir Frederick Lawton, former Lord Justice of Appeal
  • Glen Smyth, chairman, Metropolitan Police Federation

The Tony Martin controversy

Audience Question: What reasonable force would the panel feel entitled to use, if alone in their own homes?

Geoff Hoon: I'm not persuaded that the law should be changed. But the government does have a responsibility to protect people in their own homes. Many people have said the law is fine, it comes down to reasonable force.

Norman Lamont: I'm not sure I would rush in to tackle someone, but then I'm not very brave. There is overwhelming concern by the public that the law should be changed. I think people should be fairly treated by the law and the law should be amended so they are not automatically convicted of murder. It should be manslaughter in many cases.

Audience Question: The word reasonable was used - but are burglars being reasonable?

Geoff Hoon: What we must never do is to encourage the use of guns in our society. What we do need is to have a proper and well thought-out debate on this.

Norman Lamont: This reflects a wider issue of fear of burglary that the public have.

Liz Lynne: I don't know how I would have reacted if I was in Tony's Martins place. I don't see why they didn't bring in the rule of manslaughter in this case.

Frederick Lawton: The concept of reasonable force and what the householder thought what was reasonable.

Glen Smyth: My fellow panellists have had longer to think of an answer than Tony Martin did to deal with his situation. There are a number of issues here for example, not enough policing, rising crime figures and more importantly, does the sentence fit the crime?

Audience Question: In view of the Martin case, should mandatory life sentences be changed?

Geoff Hoon: Murder remains the most serious crime in our society and so I am in favour of mandatory life sentences.

Norman Lamont: I am in favour of them. When the death penalty was abolished, mandatory life sentences gave the public some kind of protection.

Liz Lynne: People who commit murder commit different types of murder. No murder is the same and should be judged independently and judges should have the right to decide on the individual sentence.

Frederick Lawton: I have had doubts about this for a long time. The time has now come that Judges should have a discretionary right to sentence as they see fit. I believe that the Martin case was a one-off case.

Glen Smyth: In the Martin case, should it have been appropriate that he should have been sentenced to murder? I don't think so.

You said:

The judge in summing up said this was a warning to criminals. What he should have said is this is warning to house-owners, so just invite the burglars in!
David Thorn, Dartford

William Hague has put the rights of the British people first, for that he gets my vote!
Richard, Bristol

I do not believe that the killing of a human being is to be taken lightly. However, I am amazed at the way that people can quite happily watch Iraqi's or Argentinians being killed in a battle, yet fail to understand that lethal force may sometimes be required "at home" in order to save the lives of innocent people. I am sure that most homeowners would rather not have to resort to attacking an intruder. The law should not punish those who protect themselves when the state fails to.
Jim, Ashford

What seems to have been ignored is the fact that a human life was lost. Tony Martin kept an illegal gun with the intention to kill using it. He has been given the right sentence. Property is insignificant in comparison to human life.
Helen Chew, Wigan

To condone the killing of intruders puts the onus on everyone to be armed - innocent people would be hurt and people who are frail and perhaps incapable of handling a weapon would be made even more vulnerable.
Marian, Lewisham

Lets face facts shall we, the individuals who broke into Tony Martin's home had over a hundred convictions under their belts. They decided to break into his home with the intention of theft. In my view that gave him every right to do whatever was necessary to protect HIM and HIS home. Lets not get soft on the criminals.
M Stroud, Hull

Let us not forget that while the burglars were undoubtedly committing a crime, Tony Martin was also committing a crime by possessing and discharging an illegally held shotgun. In this country shotgun and firearm certificates are never issued to ordinary citizens for the purposes of personal security, but only for target shooting, hunting and pest control. Geoff Hoon stated that we should strive towards further reducing gun ownership in this country. Gun ownership laws in the UK are some of the tightest in the world. Tony Martin was already operating outside of these laws BEFORE he was burgled for the last time.
Andrew Bourne, Fleet

It is simply untrue to say that all criminals come from desperately disadvantaged backgrounds.
John Backhouse, Leicester

The United States has a massively lower burglary rate than the UK. Isn't it time we admitted our mistake and relegalised handguns for self-defence by adults with no history of violence?
Mike Holmes, Newington, Edinburgh

What was Tony Martin to do when he was suddenly confronted by two intruders in his own home? Shout "Help" as the Norfolk Chief Of Police suggests?
Mark William Tinsley, Stoke-On-Trent

The phrase used about reasonable force to protect "you and your property" seems to put life and property on an equal footing.
Neil Robson, Kelso

I am amazed at the public outcry at the murder verdict in this case. Tony Martin shot the youth concerned three times in the back with an illegal firearm. He had been heard to say he intended to kill anyone who attempted to burgle him. The crime was pre-meditated. The suggestion that he should have been charged with manslaughter is absurd. No amount of property is, in my view, worth a human life.
Jack Gibson, Cambridge

It is a bit strange. In California, if anyone enters your home, you better kill him. If you just injure him, he may turn around and sue you! Which is absurd, but real. In England, the perpetrator is not punished for the injured, but for the killed! I can't make sense of either. In a situation like this, the last thing in my mind would be my personal safety, and, of course, I could claim temporary insanity since nobody can think straight when one's place is under hostile intrusion. I would definitely shoot as many times as necessary to finish the job. I do not invite this prospect anymore than I invite a burglar in my home.
Ulysses Christodoulou, Los Angeles, USA

Aside from regurgitation of the empty soundbite "taking the law into our own hands" - which of course demands the assumption that the law in it's current form is cosmically significant and can never be altered - opponents of legal reform have little to say. The law dictates that people leave themselves open to be mugged, raped and burgled, with prison awaiting anybody that dares to commit the heinous crime of protecting themselves, their family or their property.
Rob Harris, London

To hear so many defenders of Tony Martins' shooting of an adolescent burglar is quite appalling. Nobody in their right mind would condone housebreaking but for people to take the view that his action was justified is to suggest that private possessions and property are more important than a boy's life. He was after all not threatening Mr Martin physically.
Benjamin Rae, Glasgow

Burglars deserve all they get if they break into someone's home. How can you use "reasonable force" to evict a burglar. Burglars are not "reasonable" people.
Gavin Parson, Kent

Can someone define exactly what is considered as "reasonable force" when one is defending one's own property? It seems that no one has the answer.
Tom, Wirral

Every man will always protect what he owns; it is a primal instinct that can never be diminished. Have you ever seen a lion offering another lion its kill? It is nature's way of protecting what is rightfully theirs. Hopefully, a less wet group of politicians will be elected into the next parliament, and they will start listening to the voice of the people, otherwise they will be heading for anarchy. Hopefully, The Sun will get the Norfolk One freed...very soon.
Simon Sutcliffe, Croydon

As a question of policy, it seems dangerous to propose that we condone extreme violence in defence of ourselves, our families or our property. The thing that we think will liberate us from feeling threatened is the same thing which will cause innocents to be harmed. Does the person who gets drunk and walks into an unlocked home by mistake deserve to be shot? Is society prepared to accept the additional risks which come out of a decision to make violence more acceptable?
Michael Casey, Boston, USA

While I don't think that anyone deserves to die for crimes they have committed or are committing, criminals need to realise that their actions may have consequences such as this.
Alan Donnelly, Uxbridge

I would like the panel to explain what they would have done if the head been in the same situation as the farmer? If any of the panel believe that use of a gun, or another weapon, is unnecessary in such a situation could they please explain how one is supposed to subdue two burglars, both of whom are younger and stronger than themselves.
Graham Innocent, Oxford

Whilst it is terrible that a 16 year old boy died, Mr Martin's life sentence sends out an appalling message to those people who feel "under siege" in their own homes. Many people now feel that the burglars can pretty much take what they want and the homeowner is powerless to stop them. What would the panel have done had they been in Mr Martin's position (i.e. armed with a gun, faced with two people breaking into their home)?
Jill Watson, Enfield

People go on day after day about young people and drugs, crime etc. 20 years ago there was 80% chance of you stepping into a job for life. Mines, car plants & shipbuilding are becoming non-existent. Britain has NO industry - how can you expect youth to look forward. Day after day the frustration increases then they turn to crime.
Scott, Chorley

Surely the jury must have taken into account the previous threats made by Mr Martin about what he would do to criminals in they entered his property.
Ferriman, Salisbury

Return to the top of the page


William Hague's "outbursts"?

Audience Question: Are William Hague's recent outbursts, on Tony Martin and asylum seekers, merely an attempt to win voters?

Geoff Hoon: It was knee-jerk and opportunistic on the part of the Tory party. Yes, Hague is just trying to win votes in next week's by-election and a good chance for a photo opportunity.

Norman Lamont: The response about this has been overwhelming. The Martin case has revealed a deep anxiety in society. I don't think Hague was wrong to respond to a public outcry. William Hague is there to respond.

Liz Lynne: Hague has got it wrong this time. He is pandering to racists over the issue of asylum seekers.

Frederick Lawton: Mr Hague was perfectly in his right to call into question this as a matter of public concern, but where he went wrong is to act as a solicitor, in a subject where he has no training.

Glen Smyth: Photo opportunities - I always thought that was what politicians did.

You said:

With regards to both the Martin case and Hague's comments: I find it strange that someone can keep an illegal weapon and use it and be championed as a victim. What about Saptal Ram, a man convicted for murder for defending himself from racist attack (note the 'attack') with a perfectly legal knife which he used for his job. But, then he's Asian and Hague can't appeal to the New Labour voting mild Englander's by speaking up against a real injustice.
Tony Kiernan, Glasgow

William Hague ought to go the whole way, quit British politics and head over to the US. I'm sure he'd make a great sheriff in some small southern town where they 'shoot first and don't answer any questions at all'.
Matt, Islington

I am staggered by criticism of William Hague's comments and reaction to the 'Martin' case - since the great criticism of the conservative Government was that the never listened to the public's opinion - now they have, they are being condemned for it.
James Roberts, Bournemouth

How can William Hague join the lynch mob baying for blood? Martin killed a man - albeit a yob - so he deserves to be duly punished. I would never vote Tory but this resolves me even more how wrong they are.
Margaret Daniels, UK

Return to the top of the page


Spend or save?

Audience Question: 22 billion pounds from the sale of mobile phone licences - why could it not be used on something other than to reduce the national debt?

Geoff Hoon: It's actually a very sensible thing. What we are doing is clearing off our interest that most people would choose to do if they had the chance. This is a very sound economic policy.

Norman Lamont: Yes I regret to say I but I back it whole heatedly. But the fact is public expenditure does have to be controlled.

Liz Lynne: What a windfall, they could do so much with that. It could be used to help the pensioners, education and transport. But I would like to see the money spent on pensions.

Frederick Lawton: I spent my life in the law, I'm not a economist or a financier, so quite frankly I don't know!

Glen Smyth: If its going to do something useful then I say hooray to that!

You said:

With regard to the windfall from the mobile phone auction, it seems ridiculous that the government could not spend at least SOME of the windfall on something frivolous and exciting - either free public transport for a week, or painting the dome more colourfully. Pay pensioners more, but let's have some fun, too!
Nick Posford, London

What I'd like to know is why is there absolutely nothing being done to the NHS? Why can't they spend money on the NHS and schools instead of the useless dome
Amanda Kirkley, Essex

Return to the top of the page


A moral responsiblity for Zimbabwe?

Audience Question: Can the British Government have a moral responsibility for our colonial past, as in the case of Zimbabwe?

Geoff Hoon: We have a limited responsibility, but obviously we can't do that if there is an unstable situation in Zimbabwe. We intend to carry out our obligations as planned and discussed. There are plans to get people out, as with any crisis in any part of the world, to get people out

Norman Lamont:. I think we do have a moral obligation to this. But we should be cautious; we have given a lot of money to Zimbabwe in the past. There is much corruption there; it is a deeply corrupt country and a deeply worrying situation and so we have to be careful.

Liz Lynne: We do have an obligation. Money has to go to the black farmers and can't go into Mugabe's pockets again. But also the press reporting on Zimbabwe has to be much fairer in the future.

Frederick Lawton: One hundred years ago white people took over the land and that has to be put right some time in the future. There should be some measures for land reform. We promised that land reform should happen and it still should. But there should be a proper manner to do it.

Glen Smyth: Our responsibility has to be to both black and white people in Zimbabwe.

You said:

Britain should start moves to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth
Wesley Streeting, London

Why should we give Robert Mugabe millions of pounds for 'land redistribution' when he so clearly has decided to take the matter into his own hands in an entirely unacceptable way. The killing and looting must stop first.
Paul Riley, Surrey

The way and manner in which land was taken from the people of Zimbabwe 100 years ago from the natives were far worse than what is happening now. At one stage or the other the deprived will take their assets back if they feel empowered enough to do so.
Daniel, London

Return to the top of the page


Performance related teachers?

Audience Question: What are the teaching unions afraid of in regard to performance related pay?

Geoff Hoon: What performance are we looking at here? We want teachers to be rewarded for teaching and not lose them to other areas, such as administration. We want good teachers to be rewarded for teaching.

Norman Lamont: I think the teachers are quite wrong about this.

Liz Lynne: I am totally opposed to it. We have to try and persuade the govt that this is not the way forward for teachers. But I don't think striking is the answer.

Frederick Lawton: Rewarding ability is something that no one can argue with. But the way it is to be implemented is wrong.

Glen Smyth: A teacher in a particular school is very different and has different demands depending on catchment or location. How do you compare like with like?

You said:

Do the teachers just want a wage increase? I know a great many work very hard for their living, but in the real world things are a little tougher. For a start we do not get numerous holidays and to be fair the pay support workers get compared to teachers in school positions is a joke. Please do not take it the wrong way, but you do pretty well for yourselves!
J Trosud, Yorkshire

With respect to performance related pay, you can't measure something that has so many variables involved.
Quinton Smith, London

This government seems very keen on performance related pay. The electorate should have a referendum on performance related pay for MPs. I think they will have to pay us.
Tim Norris, Maidstone

Performance related pay will be a complete nightmare in education. Recently the government has changed teachers and head teachers contracts (without consultation) to get them to spy on each other. Schools in deprived areas such as mine will find it harder and harder to employ teachers because they will fear not passing the threshold or fear having it taken away from them when you have a poorer class.
Stuart Brady, Birkenhead

There has not been a government that did well out of education. As long as they continue to allow experienced - good teachers to take early retirement - I taught for 22 years till in 1997 I was offered 10 years worth of extra pension! There will continue to be a shortage of good, experienced teachers. There is a solution - pay the teachers a living wage and look carefully at the workload.
Tariq Ahmed, London

If teachers were going to be paid by performance, what school would take on a mentally disabled child? Or one year you may get a large number of hyper intelligent pupils, and the next, pupils that in spite lots of coaching and care, will not progress. Therefore even the best teacher in the land may be paid less than what they should have earned.
John W, Croydon

If the Government thinks that Performance Related Pay is such a good idea for teachers in primary, secondary, and now tertiary, education, perhaps it would like to set an example by adopting PRP for itself? I look forward to seeing what targets it would set for itself and how these would be measured and monitored on an individual MP basis.
Wendy Wheeler, UK

Return to the top of the page


General comments on the programme:

Surely the reason that BMW want to avoid showing Phoenix the book is that things are not as bad at Rover as BMW want us to believe. Plus Mr. Towers is likely to make a success of the thing (like he did with Land Rover), thereby showing up BMW's incompetent management of Rover.
Richard Watson, Stoke On Trent

I do think you are being a little easy on the politicians. Give them hell - that's what they are paid for. Congratulations on your earlier slot - thank goodness I can get an early night. Thanks again for very entertaining television.
Kate Stride, London

What a biased audience - ably supported, as usual, by a biased chairperson. If you select your audience from a Labour stronghold then you end up with an audience made up largely of puppets as we witnessed in Newcastle tonight The concept of having no politicians on the panel I would welcome, particularly around election time, local or otherwise.
George Galbraith, UK

I would like to ask the Minister of Defence why he sent our troops into battle with inadequate resources. If I remember correctly one of the main reasons for the fiasco at Arnhem in WW2 was due to radios that didn't work. You would think that in this technologically advanced age the Ministry of Defence could ensure that at least our troops weren't likely to face that sort of problem again.
David Hall, Cheltenham

Return to the top of the page


Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.





Question Time Home | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage


Link to BBC Homepage