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Cornwall debates national issues on BBC Question Time in St Austell

By CGHollie  |  Posted: November 05, 2013

  • Cornwall debates national issues on BBC Question Time in St Austell

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Top figures from the world of media and politics were grilled on national issues by Cornwall residents during filming of BBC politics show Question Time in St Austell.

More than 130 people were chosen as audience members of the BBC One political flagship programme and questioned a panel of influential figures on national issues.

The panel included Conservative business minister Matthew Hancock, Labour’s shadow work and pensions minister Chris Bryant, Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne, gay Times columnist Paris Lees and author and journalist Harriet Sergeant.

Items discussed on the night included the controversial high speed two rail service, or HS2 project, planned in the north, press regulation and renewable energy.

The programme was recorded live at Cornwall College’s Keay Theatre on Thursday and was hosted by David Dimbleby.

Sixteen year-old Tabitha Wethers from Torpoint, who is studying A-level Politics at the Cornwall College St Austell campus, was one of the lucky few chosen to be a part of the live studio audience on the night, and even managed to help out the production team during the programme.

Tabitha, who is a deputy member of the UK Youth Parliament for East Cornwall, said: “Question Time is a really interesting programme and the topics discussed will give me some great things to talk about on my A-Level politics course.

“I think it’s really important that young people have an interest in politics. As a teenager, your voice is often not heard but I have always believed that if you are in education, you have a right to have a voice about what is going on with the education system and what you get to do in the future. I find young people are actually inspirational to listen to, if you sit down and take the time and hear what they have to say.”

Following airing of the programme, some members of social networking sites debated whether political and influential figures from Cornwall should have been included on the panel.

But the office of MP for Newquay and St Austell, Stephen Gilbert, said BBC Question Time rarely featured local panellists as it generally focuses on national issues.

Mr Gilbert said: “ I was delighted that BBC Question Time came to St Austell last week and gave local people the chance to join the national political debate. The decision of who to invite onto the panel is entirely down to the BBC and it is rare for them to include local MPs. As with any invite to represent my constituents and debate their concerns in the media, I would be happy to take part in Question Time if they decide to invite me onto a future panel.”

Tessa Claridge, head of Cornwall College St Austell, said: “We are proud and delighted to be able to play host to an iconic programme like Question Time.

“It’s fantastic for the college to be a part of a national broadcast that is regularly watched by millions of viewers and attracts some of the most significant political figures in the country as guests.”

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