The Commission

Nick Ross invites a panel of public figures to discuss an issue of current concern - Nick Ross presents Radio's own public inquiry.


0101Boozing For Britain20020821Is it time to make drinking as socially unacceptable as smoking?
0103Paying For Democracy2002090420020907A discussion on whether it is time to find other methods of funding the democratic debate as more parties are financially embarrassed.
0104Testing The Nation2002091120020914The panel is asked whether, as both schools and pupils come under increasing pressure, we test children for the right things.
0105Subsidy Culture2002091820020921Can farming ever free itself from subsidies?
0106Doners Rights2002092520000928
0107Superlanguage2002100220021005Is The Popularity Of ENGLISH Killing Diversity?
0108 LASTGambling On The Future2002100920021012How should the gambling laws be changed?
0201Whose Body Is It Anyway?2003090320030906Nick Ross returns with a new series looking at major public policy issues, starting this week with the controversial subject of, whether in the light of severe organ shortage, people should have the right to trade their organs.

This week's three 'commissioners' are Sir John Gains, Group Chief executive of Mowlem Construction; Ann Furedi, Director of Communications for the British PREGNANCY advisory Service and Professor Richard Scase, the business academic, author and entrepreneur.

They'll hear evidence from five expert witnesses with vastly different experience and views on human organ donation.

0202Fat Tax2003091020030913The Commission with Nick Ross debates whether the government should introduce a fat tax on food and lifestyle products that encourages us to eat the wrong things and avoid exercise.

This week's three 'commissioners' are: Air Marshall Sir Timothy Garden, spent thirty years in the military, latterly as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff.

Shawar Sadeque, an education and IT consultant.

A former BBC governor, she is a lay member of the Royal College of Physicians' ethics committee.

David Taylor is a renowned leadership expert, and author of The Naked Leader.

This week's witnesses come from a wide background and represent an equally wide range of opinion.

They are: Tim Lang, professor of Food Policy at City University, who believes that the main problems of obesity are cultural.

Jo Morley, founder member of, she is keenly opposed to what she sees as blanket discrimination against fat people.

Dr Martin Breach is a LIVERPOOL based GP who has called for VAT to be imposed on saturated fat.

Susie Orbach, the author of the seminal 70s text, Fat is a Feminist Issue.

Susie is a visiting professor at the LSE.

She believes that a fat tax would unfairly penalise the poor.

Paul Gately is a lecturer in Exercise Physiology and Health at LEEDS University, and founder of a 'fat camp' in YORKshire.

The three commissioners will take evidence and question the five witnesses, and try to reach radical and fresh solutions.

0203Taking Liberties2003091720030920it's three years since the Human Rights Act was introduced and its brought cases to our courts covering everything from care for the elderly to whether burglars can sue their victims.

Have we now got too many rights? Could civil liberties be undermining rather than improving our society? This week's Commission looks at plans to further extend citizens' rights.

0204Immigration: Open The Doors?2003092420030927The current mechanisms for regulating immigration simply don't work, but what are the options for change? This week The Commission asks what we can learn from other countries, and what controls would be right for Britain.

Should we adopt a points system that makes immigration more competitive and selects only the best immigrants? Should we run a US-style Green Card Lottery? Or, with an ageing population and too few young people to support the retired, should we be looking further afield for a new workforce? This week's commissioners are author Frederick Forsyth, Royal Society Fellow Professor Kay E Davies and President of New Hall College Cambridge, Anne Lonsdale.

0205Should We Be Allowed To Choose The Sex Of Our Children?2003100120031004Over the past two years, the headlines have been full of stories about so-called designer babies.

Most operations of this kind are done in the US, but this autumn, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will publish the findings of a wide-ranging review and advise British government.

So, in light of this, The Commission asks whether we should be allowed to dictate the sex of our children.

Should parents be allowed to 'balance' their families - or should nature take the same route it has always done? And would a 'yes' decision spell the end for one of the two sexes? This week's commissioners include former Head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington and Faith Boardman, head of Lambeth Council.

0206Should Power Be Spread Evenly Throughout The Land?2003100820031011With the south east of ENGLAND reeling under increase in its population, can and should it be saved from overload by developing the north? Some argue that as the wealthiest part of the country, the south is subsidising the poorer north.

Could - and indeed should - this be stopped by spreading power, money and people more evenly throughout the land?

0207Are Britain's Judges Out Of Touch With The Nation?2003101520031018Could publicly elected judges be the key to shaking up the judicial system? In the penultimate edition of The Commission, Nick Ross and three independent commissioners discuss the arguments surrounding how to appoint the judiciary.

Tonight's impartial commissioners are Dean of the LONDON Business School, Laura Tyson; Head of the Countryside Agency Richard Wakeford and former High Dean of MANCHESTER Grammar School (soon to be head of St Paul's School), Martin Stephen.

Together they will hear the evidence of five experts all with a different point of view, and reach a decision that could shake up the entire judiciary.

0208 LASTRoad Pricing2003102220031025Britain is buckling under the weight of excess traffic.

Every year more and more cars pour onto the nation's roads, but what is the key to stopping them? In 2000 the government announced plans to reduce traffic levels in 2010 to 2000 levels, but even now they say we won't reach the target, so what are the options? In Spring this year the government announced a massive nationwide motorway extension and widening scheme which aims to reduce the pressure on our already heaving motorways, but can expansion like this really work in the long term? There is a review of the feasibility of road pricing currently underway which is due to report next year.

Some form of road pricing seems to be the inevitable result of the review, but will it stop the nation from completely grinding to a halt? With the opening of Britain's first toll motorway imminent, The Commission asks whether more toll roads are the answer, or whether the congestion charge should be rolled out nationwide.

Alternatively, should we just build more roads to cater for the increase in traffic? Nick Ross leads this week's panel of Commissioners, all of whom aim to bring their own unique experience into the debate.

Answering their questions from five very different angles will be our five expert witnesses.

0301Health Scares2004081120040814make regular headlines.

But how are we, the public, to know which are genuine?

0302Corporate Governance2004081820040821What's to be done about Britain's boardrooms in the light of recent scandals? Should non-executive directors be made more accountable? Should shareholders be given more power? Can British companies become more democratic?
0303The Future Of The Welfare State2004082520040828If you asked people in Britain whether they wanted to pay less tax and reduce the amount of welfare for the unemployed the answer would probably be a resounding yes.

So is there a radical way to reform or even dismantle the welfare state?

Is there such a thing as the 'undeserving poor' and could we create a better welfare system without relying solely on work as a solution?

0304Family Courts2004090120040905Are the family courts of ENGLAND and Wales in crisis and in urgent need of reform? This week the Commission hears from parents and lawyers who fear that secrecy and poor standards of evidence are undermining child protection.
0305The Future Of The British Military2004090820040912What should the British military look like in ten years time? Should the forces reflect our national image? Indeed does it make sense to have a separate army, navy and air force? Does our rich tradition make us militarily more effective, or just richly traditional? The Commission weighs up the evidence.
0306Does A Free Press Mean A Bad Press?2004091520040918Bad press requires more than the idea of re-thinking self-regulation.

Is it the case that almost everyone in public life is too scared of the Press to criticise it.

Are the press in fact the real spinners, leaving Mandelson and Campbell as also-rans.

Broadcasting is not immune from criticism, suffering the same herd instinct.

However, while the BBC has recently completed a major review of its journalism, it is difficult to imagine a similar exercise being undertaken by a newspaper group.

In spite of this we tend to think uncritically of Press freedom, yet journalists are held in such low esteem for good reason.

Media ownership, like the US presidency, is restricted to the super-rich.

The Press are unaccountable, unspeakable, yet so complacent they shrug off criticism, and so powerful no politician dare suggest curbing them.

But are there any radical solutions for press reform that don't gag the press?

This week the Commissioners are the defence expert Dr Rosemary Hollis0f the Royal Institute of International Affairs,Dame Judith Mayhew - Provost King's College Cambridge, and the Conservative peer, Lord Taylor of Warwick.

They'll be hearing evidence from David Mellor, Julia Hobsbawn, Mike Jempson, John Lloyd and Roger Alton.

0307Cleaning Up The Internet2004092220040926Is a tidal wave of pornography on the internet making it a dangerous and place for children and vulnerable adults?

Should we make more pornography illegal, drive it abroad and restrict access from here? Or is the answer, as the government has had it, that regulating the internet is impossible and undesirable and all hope lies in media literacy campaigns?

0308 LASTThe Challenge Of British Islam2004092920041002In light of increased hostility and discrimination against British Muslims, The Commission asks what can be done to heal the rifts that have emerged in British society since 9/11.
04012005080320050806The panel asks if miscarriages of justice caused by the evidence of expert witnesses can be prevented.

Giving evidence is Angela Cannings, the mother wrongly jailed for the murder of her children.

04022005081020050813With events in Iraq, Mugabe's dictatorship, the anniversary of Rwanda's genocide and the situation in Darfur in the spotlight, The Commission asks if international law is an international failure?
04032005081720050820Nick Ross and The Commission ask if low voter turn out is a sign that the adversarial system of politics is now a turn off.

With the likes of Bob Geldof and Bono championing causes, has politics gone pop? Or is pop compensating for what politics is not providing - a voice for the people?

04042005082420050827This edition looks at the future of the UK manufacturing sector, and asks whether, in the light of the exponential growth of places like China, Britain has any future as a manufacturing nation.
0405Bad Parents2005083120050903The Commission, presented by Nick Ross, asks why, if you need a licence to drive a car, to own a dog or a CB radio, you don't need to pass any test, beyond the fertility test, to have a baby?
0406Gang Crime2005090720050910Nick Ross asks if gang crime is out of control in Britain's cities.
0407Is The Uk Is Being Strangled By Red Tape?2005091420050917In the budget, the chancellor announced a crack down on regulation.

Although he advocated 'light touch', more focussed regulation, the first thing he did was to set up a new regulator to cut the red tape!

Every time there's a scandal from Alder Hay to Pension mis-selling, we turn to new and more regulation.

And deregulation is hard to achieve and resisted by all interested parties from consumer groups to trade unions, except the company management concerned.

So how is it possible to make a bonfire of red tape? is there a more radical solution? Should consumers take more responsibility for their own health, wealth and safety? Should we just tidy up at the margins and end overlaps?

The Commissioners are: Anesta Weekes, QC, journalist Jackie Ashley and branding guru Wally Olins.

0408 LAST2005092120050924Nick Ross asks three politicians to take the commissioners' chairs and choose which recommendations they'd like to see become real law.

Will they choose to look at ways of making organ donation easier, or vote for tighter controls on expert witnesses in court? Or will they look for ways of countering discord and tension between British Muslims and the rest of the population?

Frank Field, Sir George Young and Sarah Teather look for radical answers in the Commission.