Decision Time

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

With a panel of top politicians and advisers, he reveals the arguments, the calculations and the challenges that confront government when decisions are simply unavoidable.

What counts more - political advantage or the national interest?

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Episodes

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2006122720061230

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

With a panel of top politicians and advisers, he reveals the arguments, the calculations and the challenges that confront government when decisions are simply unavoidable.

What counts more - political advantage or the national interest?

2007010320070106

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson explores the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

With a panel of top politicians and advisers, he reveals the arguments, the calculations and the challenges that confront government when decisions are simply unavoidable.

What happens when political advantage conflicts with the national interest?

2007011020070113
2009031120090314

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

With a panel of inside experts, he examines the problems that future governments will face and hear the arguments about how they might be resolved.

A look at the way in which controversial decisions are reached in Whitehall.

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2009040120090404
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How would a government, facing a huge deficit, cut middle-class benefits?

20100113

20100113

How would a government, facing a huge deficit, cut middle-class benefits? Nick Robinson and a panel of politicians, civil servants and journalists examine how this controversial proposal would fare in Whitehall and Westminster.

2010011320100116

How would a government, facing a huge deficit, cut middle-class benefits? Nick Robinson and a panel of politicians, civil servants and journalists examine how this controversial proposal would fare in Whitehall and Westminster.

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2010012020100123

How would a government which wanted to abolish the BBC licence fee get its way?

20100120

20100120

How to abolish the BBC licence fee? Nick and a panel of former political insiders examine how a government which wanted to abolish the BBC licence fee could get its way, and ask what opposition it would face in Whitehall, Westminster and White City.

2010012020100123

How to abolish the BBC licence fee? Nick and a panel of former political insiders examine how a government which wanted to abolish the BBC licence fee could get its way, and ask what opposition it would face in Whitehall, Westminster and White City.

2010012720100130

2010012720100130

How would controversial proposals to tackle binge drinking fare in Whitehall?

20100127

20100127

Nick Robinson and a panel of politicians, civil servants and journalists examine how controversial proposals to tackle binge drinking would fare in Whitehall and Westminster.

2010012720100130

Nick Robinson and a panel of politicians, civil servants and journalists examine how controversial proposals to tackle binge drinking would fare in Whitehall and Westminster.

How would controversial proposals to tackle binge drinking fare in Whitehall?

2011060820110611

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Westminster and Whitehall to ask how controversial decisions are reached.

A look behind the closed doors of Whitehall to ask how controversial decisions are reached

2011061520110618

Nick Robinson and his panel examine the European Court of Human Rights.

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall and Westminster to ask how controversial decisions are reached.

This week, he and his panel examine the European Court of Human Rights, which has generated controversy with its judgement on prisoner voting.

With him to examine the case for changing Britain's relationship with the court are Jack Straw MP, the former Home, Foreign and Justice Secretary who has been leading the criticism of the Court on prisoner voting, Carl Gardner, a former government lawyer, Priti Patel, the Conservative MP, Sir Stephen Wall, the former Permanent Representative to the EU and former chief European adviser the Prime Minister, and Allegra Stratton, political correspondent for the Guardian.

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20110629

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall and Westminster to ask how controversial decisions are reached.

In the last of the current series, he and his panel consider how a government would consider the case for a new generation of nuclear power stations.

How would the safety, financial, energy security and environmental arguments be marshalled, and how would the protagonists make their arguments stick?

Joining Nick to discuss the issue are Tom Burke, a very experienced environmentalist and former special adviser to three Environment Secretaries; Professor Sir David King, the former government Chief Scientific Adviser; Tim Eggar, the former Energy Minister; Tessa Munt, the Liberal Democrat MP; and Anne McElvoy, Public Policy Editor for The Economist.

Producer: Giles Edwards.

Nick Robinson asks how controversial political decisions are reached.

2012011120120114

Nick Robinson returns with a new series of the programme that goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall and inside Westminster to explore how controversial decisions are reached. Each week, he asks people with senior experience of government and politics how a government, of whatever political colour, would approach a looming decision. Producer, Rob Shepherd.

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall.

2012011820120121

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall and inside Westminster to explore how controversial decisions are reached. Each week, he asks people with senior experience of government and politics how a government, of whatever political colour, would approach a looming decision. Producer, Rob Shepherd.

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall.

2012012520120128

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall and inside Westminster to explore how controversial decisions are reached. Each week, he asks people with experience of government and politics how a government, of whatever political colour, would approach a looming decision. Producer, Rob Shepherd.

Nick Robinson goes behind the closed doors of Whitehall.

2012020120120204
2012052320120526

Nick Robinson examines how decisions are reached behind closed doors in Westminster.

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

Producer: Giles Edwards.

2012053020120602

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

2013010920130112

Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Westminster and Whitehall.

This week, he and his guests discuss whether the benefits for pensioners that top up the basic state pension should be paid to all pensioners, including the very well-off. Should the winter fuel allowance, free bus pass, prescriptions and eye tests, and free TV licences for the over 75s be scrapped, means-tested, or protected at all costs?

Decision Time examines how a decision that could face a government of any political complexion at the present time might be taken or blocked in Westminster and Whitehall with those who know the business of government and politics are done.

Joining Nick Robinson for this edition are Lord Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary; Peter Hain MP, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga; Chris Skidmore, Conservative MP, who has written about the 21st century welfare state; and Sean Worth, a former Number 10 adviser in the Coalition Government and now at the Policy Exchange think tank.

Producer: Rob Shepherd.

Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

2013012320130126

Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Westminster and Whitehall.

In this programme, he discusses whether to spend billions of pounds building four new submarines to carry the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons.

Trident has to be renewed and renewed soon, we are told, because the subs being used now will simply wear out.

Is the nuclear deterrent the ultimate insurance policy in a dangerously unpredictable world or a relic of the cold war, an unusable weapon which sucks billions of pounds away not just from public services but from combatting today's threats - terrorism, cyber attacks and drone warfare.

To discuss the issue, Nick is joined by the two men who until a few months ago were responsible for this decision: Dr. Liam Fox, the former Conservative Defence Secretary and committed supporter of Trident, and his deputy, Sir Nick Harvey, a Liberal Democrat who set up the process of looking for an alternative.

With them are Professor Malcolm Chalmers, special adviser to two Labour Foreign Secretaries, and now research director at the Royal United Services Institute; Sir Richard Mottram, former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence who was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee after the Iraq war; and Lord Ramsbotham - formerly General Sir David Ramsbotham - Commander of the British Field Army who has described Trident as a virtual irrelevance.

Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

Immigration2007011720070120
Press Regulation2012060620120606 (R4)

The BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson shines a light on the process by which controversial decisions are reached behind closed doors in Whitehall.

In this final programme in the current series, he and his panel examine regulating the press. Have British newspapers so abused their power that they've lost the right to be free of regulations imposed on them by Parliament? Or is the freedom of the press so valuable that politicians should resist at all costs setting rules for those whose job is, in part, to hold the powerful to account?

This series examines issues which could face any government, of any political colour, at this time and looks at how any decision might or might not make its way through the corridors of power.

Nick's guests this week are:

Sir Christopher Meyer, who was Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission when phone hacking was first revealed and, before that, was press secretary to Prime Minister John Major.

Bridget Rowe, former editor of the People and Sunday Mirror newspapers.

Sir Hayden Phillips, Permanent Secretary of the Department for National Heritage when the press were told they were drinking in the last chance saloon 20 years ago

Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State in the last Labour government in what had become the Department of Culture, Media & Sport

And Evan Harris, the former Liberal Democrat MP who now works with the Hacked Off campaign.

Producer: Giles Edwards.