THE Anvil played host to a lively debate about immigration, energy companies, the police and performance-related pay for teachers as Question Time returned to Basingstoke.

The popular political debate show returned to town last Thursday as Conservative MP Mark Harper, Labour MP Tristram Hunt, UKIP parliamentary candidate Diane James, Daily Telegraph chief political commentator Peter Oborne, and playwright Bonnie Greer answered questions put to them by The Anvil audience.

First up was the question of energy companies and whether prices should, or could, be fixed by Government. This came on the day that British Gas announced its bills are to rise by 9.2 per cent.

The debate about the issue led to wider discussions about fracking and nuclear energy.

The next issue for the panellists to get their teeth into was a question posed by audience member Aaron Dewey, who asked whether the UK could cope with any more immigration after Christmas from Bulgaria and Romania.

The question sparked some strong reactions from panellists and those in the audience.

A district councillor from Hart was one of those who spoke out about immigration, asking those on the panel where thousands of new houses will be built and how the local infrastructure would cope.

The debate then moved to whether the police can still be trusted following the ‘Plebgate’ scandal involving former chief whip Andrew Mitchell.

Last week the Independent Police Complaints Commission said three officers from the Police Federation who spoke to Mr Mitchell should have faced misconduct hearings for misrepresenting what the former chief whip had said.

Tristram Hunt described what happened to Mr Mitchell as “desperately depressing” and asked “could they do this to a young lad from Brixton or Bradford ?” if they were able to misrepresent a cabinet minister.

The last contentious issue up for discussion was the question of performance-related pay for teachers – something which Shadow Education Secretary Mr Hunt said he was in favour of, despite questions from Bonnie Greer and others about how performance can be measured.

However, Mr Hunt did backtrack about free schools, which he previously called “vanity projects for yummy mummies”, admitting that it was a “stupid thing to say”.