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Archives for February 2011

The Oscars: Your reaction

22:48 UK time, Sunday, 27 February 2011


The King's Speech has been crowned best picture at the Oscars, as well as winning three other awards including best actor for Colin Firth. Who did you want to win?

The Social Network, won for adapted screenplay, editing and score. Natalie Portman was named best actress for Black Swan.

Briton Christian Bale and Melissa Leo won supporting acting awards for boxing drama The Fighter.

Sci-fi spectacular Inception won four awards, for cinematography, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing.

Did you watch the ceremony? Who were the worthy winners? Which films deserved more recognition? What are your views on the quality of the winning films?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Is the UK right to stop aid?

11:03 UK time, Sunday, 27 February 2011


The UK is to stop direct aid to 16 countries, including Russia, China and Iraq, papers seen by the BBC suggest. Should the international aid policy change?

A draft copy of the government's review of its overseas aid budget - due to be published later on Tuesday - also reveals aid to India will be frozen. But overall, the international development budget will rise by a third in this parliament as a new approach focuses on value for money, it says.

The report states that aid spending is good for Britain's economy and safety. By 2014, 30% of UK aid is expected to go to war-torn and unstable countries.

Should aid to the 16 countries be stopped? Does aid help bring stability? Should Britain be increasing its aid budget?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Do health warnings make you change your diet?

12:02 UK time, Friday, 25 February 2011


Health experts are advising us to reduce the amount of red meat we consume to cut the risk of bowel cancer. Will this prompt you to change your eating habits?

The Health Department is recommending we eat no more than 70g a week, the equivalent of three rashers of bacon a day.

Bowel cancer is a serious health problem with 1,600 people in UK dying from the disease every year.

Do you listen to health warnings? What measures do you take to make your diet healthier? Has advice from a health expert ever made you adapt your habits?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Should computers replace pen and paper in all exams?

10:16 UK time, Friday, 25 February 2011


An education expert is calling for all exams to be taken on a computer. Is this a good idea?

Isabel Nisbet, outgoing chief of the Ofqual qualifications watchdog, argues that GCSEs and A-levels will become "invalid" for digitally native pupils if writing materials are retained - she believes that children in the future should be tested in the way they learn.

But Dr Sheila Lawlor, director of think-tank Politeia, says this would create practical problems, and believes allowing children to write and analyse information in an accessible way teaches them how to think.

How do you think pupils should take their exams? Has the use of pen and paper had its day? Would computer security and speed issues make it difficult for computer-based exams?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

What should the international community do about Libya?

13:48 UK time, Thursday, 24 February 2011


The situation on Libya's border with Tunisia has reached crisis point as tens of thousands of foreigners flee unrest in the country, the UN says. How can the crisis in the region be solved?

About 2,000 people are crossing into Tunisia every hour but once there many of them have nowhere to go. Most are Egyptian but there are also significant numbers of Chinese and Bangladeshis.

There are also reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is attempting to regain control of rebel areas in western Libya.

World foreign ministers earlier condemned attacks on Libyan civilians and the European Union imposed sanctions including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Col Gaddafi and his close entourage.

Will sanctions make a difference? What should be the next steps for dealing with Libya? How can Libya be helped? Should Col Gaddafi be encouraged to step down? What are the implications for the region?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Is enough being done to help stranded Britons in Libya?

10:56 UK time, Thursday, 24 February 2011


Prime Minister David Cameron has apologised for the government's handling of the evacuation of British nationals from Libya. Should more be done to solve the crisis?

A plane chartered by oil companies for employees, with 78 passengers, has arrived at Gatwick and a government-chartered flight has also left Libya. A meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency planning committee, is being chaired by the Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Several other countries, including France, Russia and the Netherlands have already evacuated some of their citizens. However some stranded Britons have accused the government of doing nothing to help them.

Has the government's response been adequate so far? Is enough being done to help Britons stranded in Libya? Are you or members of your family based in the region?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

A quicker, cheaper and more amicable divorce?

08:46 UK time, Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Divorcing couples will be referred to mediation to sort out most disputes before they are allowed to use the courts, the government is announcing. Will mediation replace the courts?

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly said most people did not think using the courts was worth the stress. He says mediation is "a quicker, cheaper and more amicable alternative" to the over-worked family courts.

Any couple wanting to use the courts will have to undergo a compulsory mediation assessment session first, which could cost some couples up to £140. The measures for England and Wales will come into force on 6 April.

Have you been through mediation? What benefits does mediation bring? Does mediation help many people? Will the proposals radically reform the system?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Do we need another census?

10:43 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011


An advertising campaign begins today to raise awareness of the latest census for England and Wales. Is it worth the money?

Millions of people will be asked about their education, jobs, health and ethnicity in the project which is expected to cost £482m and create 35,000 jobs.

Census director said the data collected was invaluable to allow local and central government, businesses and voluntary groups to plan their service provision, but campaign group Big Brother Watch says it is a "very intrusive" way of simply duplicating information already available.

Is a census necessary? Is it too intrusive? What information do you think is important? Are some questions too sensitive to ask? Have you taken part in a census?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Is there still a glass ceiling in the workplace for women?

09:36 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011


Almost three-quarters of women believe a glass ceiling still exists in business holding back their chances of being promoted to senior management a survey suggests. Do you agree?

Just under half of the women asked in the research for the Institute of Leadership and Management supported the idea of having quotas for female executives, compared to nearly a quarter of the men asked.

Penny de Valk, the Institute's chief executive, said that although quotas may be seen as the quickest solution they do not necessarily drive a commitment to the more fundamental changes required.

Are quotas a good idea? What would be the best way to increase the number of women on company boards? Should gender come into employment decisions? What are your experiences in the workplace?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Does the welfare system need reform?

09:15 UK time, Thursday, 17 February 2011


Ministers have revealed plans to reform the current welfare system including a new "universal credit". Will this tackle the "benefit culture"?

There will also be new sanctions for claimants who turn down jobs as well as a cap on benefits paid to a single family.

Supporters of the overhaul claim that the current system actively discourages claimants from looking for work or those on low-paid jobs from increasing their hours. However, critics say that vulnerable people could be left worse off.

Does the current system encourage people to act irresponsibly? Are you receiving benefits? Would the changes encourage you back into employment? Do you work in the welfare system? Are you a benefits advisor?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Should there be restrictions on council pay?

09:20 UK time, Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said councils in England must change the way they set pay packets for their highest earning employees. Will this help make local councils more accountable or is the government just trying to score points in the battle between local and central government?

Eric Pickles wants to amend legislation so that councillors would be required to vote on plans to offer any employees a salary of more than £100,000.

Earlier this week, research by Incomes Data Services revealed that 15 council chief executives in England and Wales earned more than £200,000 a year - more than Prime Minister David Cameron. Is that too much?

Mr Pickles has refuted critics who say the measure is a political attempt to deflect attention from the big cuts in services the government is forcing local authorities to make.

What do you think of the plans? Will this ensure that staff salaries become "democracy proofed", as Mr Pickles claims?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Brit Awards 2011: Did the right acts win?

23:01 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Tinie Tempah walked away with two prizes at this year's Brit awards, claiming best British breakthrough act and best single for Pass Out. Did the awards go to the right acts?

The coveted best British album gong went to Mumford and Sons for Sigh No More and Take That scooped the best British group trophy.

Plan B was named best British male and Laura Marling won the prize in the best female category.

There were also prizes for Rihanna, Cee Lo Green and Arcade Fire.

Did you watch the Brits? What do you think of the winners? Who would have chosen?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

How can we encourage new scientists?

10:40 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Scientists in the Royal Society say A-Levels are "not fit for purpose", and are recommending a baccalaureate system to give pupils a greater breadth of subjects before university. Is this the way forward for education?

Schools minister Nick Gibb says the government's move to include mathematics and science in the new English Baccalaureate would drive up participation rates and attainment in these subjects pre- and post-16.

Chair of the Royal Society Education Committee Professor Dame Athene Donald said it should be a top priority for the government to reform England's education system.

How can science take-up be encouraged? Do you work in the field of science? Would you welcome a Baccalaureate-style qualification?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Big Society Bank: Will it work?

10:51 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011


The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has launched the 'Big Society Bank', a £200 million pound project using money from dormant bank accounts to fund social enterprises. But will this scheme work?

Cabinet Officer Minister, Francis Maude says: "The Big Society Bank will massively expand finance for social ventures, creating a new source of finance alongside philanthropy and public service contracts."

But critics have warned that investment in public services is needed if the Big Society Bank is to succeed.

What do you make of this new bank? Do you think it will put pressure on volunteers at a time of big public spending cuts? Has Mr Cameron fully answered your questions about the government's Big Society programme? Will you get involved?

Does the Blue badge scheme need reform?

10:46 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011


New measures to crack down on "blue badge" parking abuse have been announced by ministers. How effective is the scheme?

The badges allow people with disabilities to park for free or on yellow lines, but the system has increasingly been open to abuse. The number of badges has soared in recent years with an estimated 2.5 million now in circulation nationally.

Critics say some local authorities give them out too easily and do not punish those who obtain them fraudulently or allow them to be misused.

Are you currently a Blue Badge holder? Do you think changes are necessary to stop abuse of the scheme? How can councils improve how they administer the scheme?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Can China become the world's biggest economy?

05:41 UK time, Monday, 14 February 2011


China has overtaken Japan as the world's second-biggest economy. How does this affect the global economy? And how might it affect businesses and consumers in the UK?

Japan's Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano played down the significance of the shift and said that "as an economy, we are not competing for rankings but working to improve citizens' lives." Japan has been hit by a drop in exports and consumer demand, while China has enjoyed a manufacturing boom.

At its current rate of growth, analysts see China replacing the US as the world's top economy in about a decade.

The BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, commented on her blog that "China's currency won't be a serious rival to the dollar until China opens its capital account and frees up its financial system," allowing for foreign investment in China and money to go out to the rest of the world.

What impact will China's growth have on the global economy? Could it bring a financial boost to the UK? Will China change its global role?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

Will restrictions on Swiss gun ownership reduce crime?

11:28 UK time, Sunday, 13 February 2011


Switzerland is holding a referendum aimed at restricting gun ownership. Do you own a firearm?

If approved, it would end the long tradition of Swiss men keeping their army weapons at home both during and after compulsory military service.

Weapons would have to be registered, stored in armouries and owners would have to show they know how to use them. There are an estimated two to three million guns circulating in Switzerland, but no-one knows the exact number because there is no national firearms register

Are you in Switzerland? Do you keep a weapon at home? Should gun ownership in Switzerland be restricted? Would the move reduce suicides and gun crime? Will any changes undermine the military?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Is the middle class prepared for spending cuts?

09:04 UK time, Saturday, 12 February 2011


The middle classes are unaware of the impact of spending cuts that will hit them this year, Ken Clarke has said. Do you agree with his assessment of the state of the economy?

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the justice secretary said that the coalition government should be prepared for possible political difficulty when Middle England feels the full impact. He also claimed that he did not envisage a "quick rebound" for an economy in a "calamitous" state.

Earlier this week, local authorities including Manchester and Birmingham announced large job cuts due to the current economic climate.

Is the country fully prepared for the scale of spending cuts? Will the government pay a political cost once the cuts start hitting home? Have you or your family been affected?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

President Mubarak resigns: Your reaction

16:15 UK time, Friday, 11 February 2011


Thousands of pro-democracy protesters in Egypt have returned to Tahrir Square in Cairo, the heart of the popular uprising that led to the resignation of President Mubarak. How do you see the future of Egypt developing?

Mr Mubarak resigned on Friday after 18 days of protests. He was flown to his luxury residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh having handed power to the high command, a body composed of high-ranking generals.

The army now seems undecided on how to respond to the fresh influx in Tahrir Square. The military police chief has called for tents to be cleared from the area.

Are you going to Tahrir Square? Are you already in the area? Are you in a town or village in Egypt which hasn't seen protests? What is next for Egypt?

Thank you for your omments. This debate is now closed.

What are your views on the government's Freedom Bill?

10:18 UK time, Friday, 11 February 2011


The government is publishing a bill which will mean millions of people in England and Wales who work or volunteer with children will no longer need criminal record checks. Does this worry you?

Teachers will continue to be vetted - but those who do occasional, supervised volunteer work will not.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said the Freedom Bill, which will also include giving residents more control over CCTV, limiting police stop and search powers and ending the indefinite storage of innocent people's DNA will change the current system, which treats people with "too much distrust and suspicion".

Do you agree with the bill? Do you think the state treats you like a criminal? Is this a win for civil liberties and common sense or as a parent, do you think this is a step too far?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Who is right about Egypt?

09:45 UK time, Thursday, 10 February 2011


Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down. What is your reaction?

A senior member of Egypt's governing party, Hossan Badrawi, said on THursday he didn't expect Mr Mubarak to be president on Friday.

Earlier, Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said Washington should not "impose" its will on "a great country".

In reply, the White House said Egypt's transition plans were not yet enough to satisfy those calling for change.

What did you think of Mr Mubarak's speech? What do you think is likely to happen next? Is it right that the US and other countries speak out about the crisis? If you are living in Egypt, what would you like to see your government do?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Should prisoners get the vote?

09:37 UK time, Thursday, 10 February 2011


MPs have overwhelmingly voted to keep the ban on prisoners voting, in defiance of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Is voting a privilege or a right?

The House of Commons' decision is not binding, but could put pressure on ministers to go against the Strasbourg court's decision.

Currently no UK prisoner is able to vote except those imprisoned for contempt, default or on remand, but the ban has been ruled unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights.

The government says it has been advised that unless the UK law is changed it could face compensation claims from prisoners costing well over £100m.

Who should be allowed to vote? Should people lose their right to vote when they commit a crime? Have you ever lost your right to vote? What is the law when it comes to voting in your country?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Is the government breaking covenant with military?

11:35 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011


The Royal British Legion has accused the prime minister of breaking his promise to set in law a military covenant between the nation and its troops. Is support being "watered down"?

Last June, David Cameron indicated the covenant - a promise of a duty of care in return for sacrifices made - would be set out in legislation.

However, the charity's head Chris Simpkins claims the new Armed Forces Bill does not fulfil that promise and only requires the Ministry of Defence to publish an annual report on the covenant. It has also issued warnings of what it calls a tidal wave of low morale in the military.

Is the government doing enough to maintain the covenant with the military? What action should be taken to improve morale? Are you or a member of your family connected with the armed forces?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Should the government help incentivise marriage?

11:07 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011


The government should help incentivise marriage through state financial support. That's the message from the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. Do you agree?

In a speech, Mr Duncan Smith has outlined why he thinks married couples should get tax breaks and why it's the government's job to encourage people to get married.

The Liberal Democrats oppose the Conservative plans, with leader Nick Clegg calling tax breaks for married couples "patronising drivel that belongs in the Edwardian age".

Do you aspire to marry? What is stopping you from getting married? Is it time to make marriage a priority again? Or is marriage a thing of the past?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

What role should the UK play in promoting democracy?

09:35 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague is in Tunisia, where he is calling for "greater political openness." Is he right to visit the region at this time?

Mr Hague's visit, which began on Tuesday, starts a three-day trip to five countries in northern Africa and the Middle East amid a wave of anti-government protests in the region.

Mr Hague will call "for greater political openness and economic development in the Middle East in the light of recent events in Tunisia and Egypt" and look to strengthen ties in the region, the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

On Monday night, Mr Hague posted a message on micro-blogging website Twitter, saying: "Heading to Tunisia to meet the new interim government and show UK support for the people of Tunisia and their democratic hopes."

What is your reaction to William Hague's visit? Should the UK be strengthening ties in the region? Should the UK promote democracy abroad? Or should the UK stay out of the affairs of other countries?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

At what age can children be left alone?

13:06 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011


A mother-of-three has been given an official police caution for leaving her 14-year-old in charge of his three-year-old brother. What age is the right age?

Chris Cloke, from the NSPCC, says the law doesn't specify the age at which children can be left alone, but you can face charges if you put a child at risk.

Under Scottish law, a child must be deemed by the parents to be responsible.

At what age can you safely leave your child at home with no adult supervision? Can a child be over-supervised? How have you handled this issue in your family? Should there be a law specifying the age a child can be left alone?

This debate is closed. Thank you for your comments.

Should the UK cut its ties with the European Court of Human Rights?

09:04 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011


The government should cut its ties with the "expansionist" European Court of Human Rights, says a report by a right-leaning think tank. Is the ECHR fit for purpose?

The Policy Exchange report written by a former government adviser, Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, says the UK has become "subservient" to the Strasbourg court.

The recent row over prisoners' voting rights has highlighted the issue.

Is the ECHR over-extending the concept of human rights? If the UK severed ties would it jeopardise its commitment to human rights? Would it be too complex to cut ties with court?

This debate is closed. Thank you for your comments.

How should we deal with anti-social behaviour?

08:08 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011


New plans for tackling anti-social behaviour, including the abolition of Asbos, have been unveiled. Should Asbos be scrapped?

The new Criminal Behaviour Order can be attached to a criminal conviction, and a Crime Prevention Injunction is aimed at stopping anti-social behaviour before it escalates.

The coalition also plans to compel police to probe incidences that are reported by at least five people - known as the "community trigger".

The plans are part of a government consultation on anti-social behaviour.

What is the best way to tackle anti-social behaviour? Is scrapping Asbos the right move? Have you been a victim of anti-social behaviour? What do you think about the new plans?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Can front-line police jobs be protected?

10:57 UK time, Sunday, 6 February 2011


More than 10,000 uniformed police officer posts in England and Wales are to be cut over the next two years, Labour Party research suggests. Are cuts being made in the right area?

The coalition's Spending Review set police budget cuts at 20% by 2014-15. The government has always insisted that front-line jobs can be protected and hopes chief constables can cope with the cuts by saving on backroom staff, bureaucracy, and pooling more resources with other forces.

But after Labour collated figures from 42 police authorities in England and Wales - except the British Transport Police - the party claims that hope cannot be realised. They said a total of 10,190 police officers are to be cut.

Are you a police officer? What impact will these cuts have? Do you think cuts can be made without affecting front line jobs? How would you restructure the police force?

This debate has now been closed. Thank you for your comments.

What TV shows should make a comeback?

12:03 UK time, Saturday, 5 February 2011


The classic soap opera Dallas is making a return to our screens, with many members of the original cast including Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy. Were you a fan of Dallas?

At its height - in the 1980s - it was one of the most watched programmes on television.

It follows in the footsteps of many TV revivals such as Doctor Who, Hawaii Five-O and the big screen remake of The A-Team.

What other TV shows deserve to be remade? Are there any shows that should be left alone? Will you be watching the return of Dallas?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Has state multiculturalism failed?

10:29 UK time, Saturday, 5 February 2011


The UK prime minister has criticised "state multiculturalism" in his first speech on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism since being elected. Does the UK need a stronger national identity?

In a speech to a security conference in Germany, David Cameron argued that governments need to tackle the lack of identity in society, in order to tackle terrorism.

He also signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.

But the Muslim Council of Britain said its community was being seen as part of the problem rather than the solution.

Can a stronger national identity tackle terrorism? What can governments do to tackle extremism? Do you agree with the Muslim Council of Britain's point of view? In your country, what does multiculturalism mean to you?

Thank you for your comments. This debate has now closed.

How far should TV shows push humour?

09:45 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011


The BBC has apologised for remarks made on the television programme, Top Gear, that caused outrage in Mexico. Have you ever complained about a TV programme?

In a letter to Mexico's ambassador in London, the BBC said it was sorry if the comments had offended some people, but said jokes based on national stereotyping were part of British national humour.

Stephen Fry has also courted controversy and had a documentary series in Japan shelved after complaints about nuclear bomb jokes in his quiz show "QI". The Japanese Embassy accused the BBC of making light of the attacks, which killed up to 250,000 civilians.

Is there a line that humour just should not cross? Are there subjects off-limits for humour?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

How important is your local bus service?

11:09 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011


A campaign has been launched to save subsidised bus routes after it was found more than two-thirds of councils planned to cut services. Would cuts to local bus services affect you?

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of The Campaign for Better Transport, which is launching the Save our Buses campaign, said the cuts to bus services would hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.

However, local and regional transport minister Norman Baker argued that while he accepted the funding settlement was "challenging", most bus services would not be affected.

How important is your local bus route and how often do you use it? Would the proposed cuts affect you? Send us your comments using the form below.

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

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