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Ian Hernon: The debate is back Question Time returns.

Byline: Ian Hernon

THE BBC's long-running Question Time will be broacast from Liverpool's City Exchange next Thursday.

Presenter, referee and circus ringmaster David Dimbleby told me: ``We always like going to Liverpool because the audience is always lively and outspoken . . . we are guaranteed a good debate. '' Here are the questions I would put to the panel: n To former International development Secretary Clare Short, who has turned into an arch-critic of the Iraq war: Why, unlike Robin Cook, did you not resign from the Cabinet over the war? Were the trappings of Cabinet power more important than your conscience? Why should anyone on Merseyside vote Labour?

To the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones: Areyou in favour of gay priests, the issue which threatens to tear apart the Church of England? What team do you support? Do people have a moral, ethical or spiritual duty to exercise their right to vote?

n To Tory Treasury spokesman and Cheshire MP George Osborne: Do you think Boris Johnson will ever be leader of the Conservative party? Michael Howard claimed he sacked him for lying over his affair, Johnson insists he did not, who's telling porkies? Why should anyone on Merseyside vote Conservative?

To Confederation of British Industry chief Digby Jones: Why a reyou against up rating the national minimum wage for the most poorly paid but in favour of fat cat management and boardroom bonuses? How hard will the planned smoking ban in pubs hit Liverpool's leisure industry? Will it put off the foreign tourists expected to flock to the 2008 European Capital of culture celebrations?

n To Comedian Linda Smith, like Johnson, a regular guest on Have I Got News For You: How much of the ``add-libbing'' on the topical news quiz is scripted, as Johnson claimed? How did you get on with your Red Dwarf co-star, the Merseyside poet and actor Craig Charles? What do you know about politics? Meanwhile Mr Dimbleby revealed that some people have a rather distorted idea about the smoking issue.

One member of the public asked him: ``Why are they going to ban food in Liverpool pubs?''
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2004
Words:354
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