June 8, Manchester

June 1, Aberdeen

May 25, Cardiff

May 18, 2000

May 11, London

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


June 8, Manchester

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

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


The topics discussed this week were:

WI pleasing middle England?

Audience Question: After the reception at the Women's Institute - does the panel believe that too much emphasis is on pleasing middle England at the expense of grass root support?

Rodney Bickerstaffe: I think where Blair has failed is on the catalogue which has been mentioned far too often. I do not think that that the women there were apolitical - but they were probably not the politics of this government, so in which case it was a set up.

Liam Fox: It was very much misjudging the audience, it was far to long. But today politicians are obsessed with spin and not much substance and spin only goes so far. Obsessions with focus groups and presentation, but people want solutions to problems.

Clare Short: I think the WI are trying to change their image - with the nude calendar and the heckling they have certainly done that! But middle England is dividing the country and we need policies for everyone, and it is creating a false divide. Our Government is solid and trustworthy and I truly believe that. But yes we are all obsessed with spin, even Hague, and it isn't working.

Cristina Odone: The Women's Institute managed to perform a slow and public castration without anaesthetic! It was wonderful and entertaining. But the WI do represent the majority of England and have concerns that most people are worried about and they want solutions too.

Chris Woodhead: I don't agree that there is a different agenda for middle England from an agenda that is important to the rest of the country.

You said:

How can Chris Woodhead say that the WI agenda is no different from the rest of the country? Has he been to any inner city schools lately? Does he appreciate the differences and if not how in heavens name can he have responsibility for inner city education?
Terry Barrow, Sheffield

Don't you think the WI should wake up and smell the coffee? I'm sure they didn't expect the PM to talk about jam making! Or, would they prefer that as a topic of conversation?
David Cartwright, Retford

Isn't the WI a bunch of Tories who were put up to what they did?
John Andrews, UK

Mr Blair and his colleagues missed the point about the WI objection. The WI were looking for an intelligent perspective on the issues that concerned their organisation. Instead they got a narrow party political bowl of rhetoric motivated by a media/image conscious Prime Minister worried about other non-relevant contentious issues.
Philip S Hall, Northampton

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Sin Bins for children?

Audience Question: Do the panel believe that we would be creating a better atmosphere for the majority if head teachers were allow to expel more?

Clare Short: Schools that just want to get their leagues tables up often just throw out the children who misbehave - and the ones who need more care and attention are being thrown out. And this is a rotten way to handle an education system. We need to honour and support schools which deal with these problems.

Chris Woodhead: I don't think schools throw out bad pupils and that is a gross slander of head teachers. But teachers do spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy on a minority children who misbehave and I don't think we can sacrifice the interests of the majority because of the minority. Hague is right - we need an alternative system for those who misbehave.

Rodney Bickerstaffe: If children are to be excluded from others in the school, they cannot be treated in the same way to the other children in the "sin bin". All children are different and should not be treated as a mass.

Liam Fox: I went to a big comprehensive, with 52 pupils in my form class. But the only way we got through that was with very strong discipline. Teachers are there is teach and not be child minders. But there is another point here - we were also scared of our parents if we got into trouble. Parents do have to take some responsibility for their children's actions and they need to support the teachers.

Cristina Odone: But these children are being set apart from an early age. They are going to be part of our society. Children are being stigmatised and labelled as being the ones that people cannot work with. What happens when they grow up?

You said:

Clare Short made the point perfectly, although due to her lack of intelligence, she did not notice. Clare Short said that she visited a school in Birmingham which took excluded children and was doing well. This shows that William Hague's idea will work. Also if there are 15000 bad teachers they should be sacked, not praised as Rodney Bickerstaffe thinks.
Edward Barham , London

As a parent and a school governor I put an awful lot of effort into promoting the value of education and polite, appropriate social behaviour with our children. We see this as our responsibility. The focus should not be on the disruptive element, but on how we can enhance the leaning experience of those that do participate.
Alan Pitts, St. Agnes

It is not the job of the teachers to control unruly children, their job is to teach.
B Tyler, Leamington Spa

Should we not increase the number of educational psychologists to meet the growing demand?
Alan Vernon, UK

Special needs pupils have a designated banding of labels manufactured by statistical skulduggery! I have 30 years of teaching experience with special education, as have many other dedicated teachers. We don't have to fill in forms to prove it - we are dedicated to our teaching and our pupils go on to fulfil their lives. Please get governmental dignitaries to visit the coal face - and see what really is happening!
Jan Lockett, Maldon

For the first time I agree with Chris Woodhead! Unless we sort out our pupils with behaviour problems early, many other children's education will suffer. If we get them early enough and have their parents support we can change their behaviour. Many leave our school with a number of GCSEs and go on to further education.
Angela Bareford, Woking

The real world (not the OFSTED perspective) is nothing like you describe. Teachers are bearing the brunt of the ineffective, time-wasting and hasty decisions that those who rarely spend any considerable amount of time in schools today are making. We desperately need support in our schools for disruptive pupils and we need it now... not after completing a mountain of paperwork and observations to prove what we know already!
Jane Robbins, Plymouth

Can anything be done to educate those parents who do not support their children at school - they don't turn up to parents evenings. They have no idea whatsoever of their child's ability or lack of it. This among many other factors contributes to truancy and rebellion within the classrooms.
Miss Robinson, UK

If a minority of children is disrupting the majority then they should most definitely be excluded. I do not understand why there is all the concern over the minorities welfare when the well-behaved and respectable students are being held back.
Martin Like, Hay-on-Wye

Why shouldn't teachers expel children for bullying? Instead of parents having to remove the victims from school because the school is not prepared to take measures to insure the safety of our less aggressive children. Does anyone know how many children are now being taught at home because the school has failed in its duty to provide a safe environment?
Colin Penney, Dorset

I think the comment made by Doctor Liam Fox was so appropriate. Parents should take more responsibility for the discipline of their children and support teachers.They could do the job much better if they were given the financial backing from the government to buy resources in order to implement the constant changes. I am tired of teachers being criticised for breaking their backs to implement the imposed curriculum and not getting the support they need from all quarters.
Patricia Hannan, Ellesmere Port

It is the fault of the parents. The parents should be sent to Sin Bins, on regular fixed evenings, to let them learn what they have been and are doing wrong.
Even weak teachers (as long as they knew their stuff and were enthusiastic) would be fine if they didn't have to get ready to defend themselves or run away from violent (i.e., disruptive) pupils.
Joe Lloyd, North Wales

I have Cerebral Palsy and I am a Local Government Officer and was able to achieve this due to accessing an academic curriculum at a special school geared up to my needs. Today, to many kids come under the umbrella term "special needs" and are expected to manage in mainstream school with minimum access to speech and physiotherapy. As a consequence their specific needs are not adequately addressed and consequently their potential to live independent lives and become contributors to the social and economic life of our country is drastically reduced.
Harold Sharpe, Matlock

Dr Liam Fox said that people want 'teachers not childminders'. Perhaps 18 years of education policy along those lines might have contributed to the problems we have in schools today. The focus should be on why we have this number of expulsions.
Dan Mason, Liverpool

Surely the more narrow, controlled and demanding the school curriculum becomes, the more there will be children who don't fit in. The amount of pressure on young children at school to achieve, and on teachers to make sure they achieve is frightening. For heaven's sake, take the pressure off teachers, parents and pupils; children should be taught to enjoy learning, not to reach targets and pass SATS.
Susan Blackmore, Surrey

If disruptive children had had one to one support in the early years they would not be such a problem once they get to secondary school. Can they not see what is happening and what teachers are trying to tell them?
D A Frost, North Yorks

Clare Short failed to mention that the government is hammering schools with large financial penalties for the expulsion of disruptive students. Schools receive around 2000 for each student they accept and in many cases have 6000 taken form them if they expel children at the middle of the school year. This is blackmail.
Mark Luscombe, Hull

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Queen Camilla?

Audience Question: Should there be a Princess or Queen Camilla?

Cristina Odone: There shouldn't be a marriage at all. Prince Charles will be the supreme governor of the Church of England and it is sending out tremendously wrong messages to the public.

Rodney Bickerstaffe: No-body has the right to say who can marry who. As long as we have a monarchy we will have to find some solution to the problem.

Liam Fox: The Prince of Wales has shown no inclination of whether he is to marry, this has been bought on by the media and not by the Royal Family. But he has a duty as head of state and if he doesn't like that then he has to put his private life first.

Clare Short: I think that Charles and Camilla is a truly amazing love story. But what hypocrisy. We know they are a couple, we know they are committed. They have been in love for a very long time. Why should we sit in judgement on other people's lives, they should marry and the title can be sorted out later.

Chris Woodhead: There has been far too much media attention on what is a very sensitive issue.

You said:

I cannot believe I agree with Claire Short, but I do! What a refreshing change - a politician applying common sense.
Kevin Bowers, Hereford

Why is the prince being told he is not allowed to marry just because he's a prince and soon to be King and head of the Church of England? He is a human being and should be allowed to do what he likes.
Stuart Cruickshank, Nottingham

What is the difference between their situation and that of Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson? If a marriage between Charles and Camilla is condoned, why did Edward VII have to abdicate?
Kim Millbery, Worcester

On a lighter note - don't the panel think that they should elope to Las Vegas and have a drive through wedding dressed in Elvis costumes!
Anthony Bruce, Aberdeen

Why does Camilla, if married to Charles, need to be Queen? Neither Princes Philip nor Albert were King. They simply ranked as Consort. Princess Anne's husbands have never had the title of Prince.
Mrs. Jean Wilson, Birmingham

Was not the Church of England devised for the divorce of a King? I think Charles and Camilla should be allowed to marry without any contest and whether Camilla is titled or not is of little consequence... We should all grow out of this Mary Poppins attitude!
Mark Stedman, Orpington

Will the "Church of England" please recognise that its views are irrelevant to most of us. We wish to move on from the era of being subjugated by organised religion, and back to some real awareness of our spiritual identities. Stop telling us what we should be/feel/do and start listening to our hearts. They do not suffer from compromise, doubt, or political spin. They are the real essence of who we are and why we are here. Stop listening to your head - listen to your heart.
Michael Cook, Beds

Everyone seems so concerned about Camilla being Queen. Do we have a King at the moment? I think not. Let them get on with it
John Beynon, UK

Christina Odone is nothing but a snob. If Charles and Camilla want to marry who is she to say otherwise. An audience member was spot on when he suggested the panel should get on with a more serious debate. Hopefully, when Scotland becomes independent we will ditch the lot of them and become a democratic Republic.
Iain Mac, Stevenston

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Passport bans?

Audience Question: Should people who are banned from UK football matches have their passports confiscated to stop them from travelling abroad?

Liam Fox: This Government has done to little too late. We know from intelligence gathering which people should have their passports taken away and sadly this is the lesser of two evils.

Rodney Bickerstaffe: My concern isn't just the violence - it is, much more unfortunately, tied up with xenophobia and racism - that is a matter of fact and that has to be stopped. Some of these people should be simply told that they cannot go abroad.

Chris Woodhead: There are civil liberties issues here which are very difficult. There is a minority of people who are wrecking the image of football and our country and they should be stopped from going abroad. I believe criminal intelligence can find these people and stop them from going abroad.

Cristina Odone: We have to take away their passports - but we also have to prevent this kind of violence from taking place.

Clare Short: Intelligence gathering and secret lists won't work. We know that they sometimes get the wrong people.

You said:

Is it really necessary to confiscate their passports? Would it be simpler to stamp them prohibiting them form going to Holland or Belgium?
Stuart, Nottingham

Clause 7 in my passport points out that it remains the property of Her Majesty's Government and may be withdrawn at any time. Simply withdraw passports of known hooligans and invite them to reapply for new ones which will take at least 6 weeks by which time Euro 2000 is long gone.
Robin Lawson, Edinburgh

Note on passport says "Caution this passport remains the property of Her Majesty's Government in the UK and may be withdrawn at any time." Please pass this on to whoever can act on it and ensure that the thugs do not travel.
John Butler, Middlesex

The only way to stop hooligans is to prevent them from leaving the UK, one of the few countries in the EU where passport controls still exist. Once potential troublemakers reach the other side of the channel, they can go wherever they want, criss-crossing national borders without fear of having their passports checked. Unfortunately, violence is inevitable at these championships and there is nothing the government could have done to prevent it.
Andrew, London

Why is it that everybody talks about taking the passports away of English football supporters, why does nobody suggest it when football fans from foreign countries perpetrate the same acts of violence.
D Tyler, Harlow

Current legislation MUST be changed to ensure that football hooligans with either a past record of violence and/or current intelligence linking them to violent activities have their passports evoked. The curtailment of the individual's civil liberties in these cases is not an issue for debate.
Kenny Hemlin, Lincoln

We must remember that a lot of the football hooligans are not British, but from many other countries, who only have one outlook in life and that is to cause trouble for England supporters. So as far as I am concerned it is time we stopped putting the blame on English supporters alone.
Anita McGarry, Kingston-upon-Hull

Such hooligans are continually damaging the reputation of Britain and the law needs to be changed to deter them from further action. It should be made clear to anyone who travels abroad that they are ambassadors of Britain and that their behaviour and attitudes will influence what the residents of the countries being visited think of Britain.
Gustav Pilsel, Crewe

Everyone who is convicted of crimes of violence should forfeit their passports permanently. As a member of the audience so rightly said, passports are a privilege not a right. If driving licences can be taken away, then the same should be possible for passports. Civil liberties are not an issue, because people convicted of crimes of violence forfeit such rights by their actions.
Hugh Oxburgh, Cambridge

Football violence is a comment on society. It's violence pure and simple, nothing else. We have no more of a problem than anyone else does. It is nothing to do with racism, xenophobia or anything else. Violence pure and simple, society is as much to blame. Until we realise that, nothing will change
Malcolm Reeves, High Wycombe

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The black hole NHS?

Audience Question: Should Labour really be throwing more money down the NHS black hole or is it time to move towards a private system?

Chris Woodhead: I don't think it is an either/or. The NHS does need extra resources and I'm glad the government is finding them. But I'm interested in increased accountability which is needed and seems to be immensely important - independent inspectors and inspections of some kind.

Liam Fox: Its not just a case of how much money - its how the money is spent. There should less demarcation of roles - sisters on wards can no longer tell cleaners to clean wards. We also need partnership between private and public services. Because it is not how you are treated but when.

Rodney Bickerstaffe: Given the mess that the Tory government got the NHS into, it's a damn cheek to even talk about it! There is no place for profit making in the NHS, that's why people love it and will fight for it. I would like to see the private health care abolished.

Cristina Odone: In the US if you don't have health insurance they won't treat you in an emergency - so I agree with Rodney on this. Also private health care insurance is very expensive.

Clare Short: I'm enormously proud of the NHS. But the NHS is not a black hole - the Tories ran it down but we are doing our best to improve it and it is improving.

You said:

Rodney Bickerstaffe's desire to abolish private health care denies choice to individuals who view their health as a priority and as such are prepared to invest in - what they believe to be a better service. Just like his hairstyle, his ideals haven't changed since the 60's.
Michael Twigg, Grange-over-Sands

I cannot believe the hypocrisy of Liam Fox - who is he to accuse the Government of the current problems the NHS is facing? The amnesia displayed by some senior Tories is worrying - they seem to forget that they were in power for 18 years and most of that time was spent deliberately running down the NHS. Are they really fit to govern this country again?
James Walker, Middlesbrough

In order to bring our health spending up to EU standards, we have to spend on Private Healthcare, not ideal but needed. Rodney Bickerstaffe showed that he is not living in the real world. I know of a case where an ITU nurse is used in a role well beneath her ability, due to a shortage of beds. The culture of waste seems to be rife, bring in a business "person" to turn the NHS round not a politician.
Edward Barham, London

The NHS does need more money but one of the big problems is the way it is used, It is very often wasted because of the simple fact that hospitals are run by pen pushers instead of doctors and nurses.
Peter Wilcox, Bridport

Why on earth are there two forms of health care, surely everyone should be entitled to the same level of health care. This is totally degrading to those people that cannot afford it and it does not treat many as human beings. A person should not be placed into a level of medical care on the basis of how much money they have, that system should not exist in this day and age let alone this country
Matthew Davies, Axminster

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General comments on the programme:

Cristina Odone - what a waste of a chair on the panel. Please find people with something worthwhile to say!
Michael King, Ipswich

I think QT is a very good programme with too many panellists. It needs to reduce by one and for Mr. Dimbleby to ask fewer questions of his own and let more of the audience participate. I think a 6 week run chaired by Robin Day with a smaller panel would be a welcome event!
James Burke, Reading

The success of Question Time as a programme is clearly not just dependent on the right mix and quality of members of the panel. But also from which part of the country the programme comes from. The panel was not up to standard, but the choice of Manchester (once again in the centre of a Labour Party heartland) was not conducive to providing a good unbiased political debate.
George Galbraith, Stirling

Thank goodness for hearing some common sense from Dr Fox and Mr Woodhead. There is far too much "political correctness" about. It should be exposed for what it is - the imposition by a strident minority of their ideas which fly in the face of common-sense.
A J McLay, Fife

I enjoy Question Time, but not as much as in previous series. Time must be made for more audience comment/participation. To enable that, I'd suggest: -
1) Return to a 4-person panel, 2/3 politicians plus a journalist and/or a business person. Celebrities, with very rare exceptions, have nothing to contribute other than their fame.
2) Stronger control by the chairman, particularly in stopping politicians interrupting and repeating their party points over and over again.
Darryl Mason, Surrey

I'm sick of this sulphurs dump of a country, with its xenophobia and third world public services. I'm off to Australia as soon as I've finished my degree. The breath taking incompetence of most of the politicians we have only fuels my desire to emigrate even more!
Reg Alderton, Newcastle

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