The debates

Autumn Session 2021

14 Oct.  That Shamima Begum should be allowed back into the UK 

21 Oct.  That the Government’s policy of ‘levelling up’ will succeed    

28 Oct.  That the the climate is more important than the economy

4 Nov.  That the great and the good are neither

11 Nov.  That the West has betrayed Afghanistan

18 Nov.  That mental health would be improved through the study of Stoic philosophy

25 Nov.  That the baby-boomer generation has stolen the inheritance of the young 

2 Dec.  That Christmas is humbug


The society is experimenting with hybrid debates. Members and visitors can attend our meetings in person (in the debating hall) or virtually (via Zoom).

We shall encourage principal speakers to come to the meeting that evening, unless they live too far away for this to be possible.

The use of face coverings is discretionary, but when the wearer is speaking they will need to be removed.

For more details please email the President:

The speeches

The Proposer and Opposer of the motion each speak for up to 20 minutes. The debate is then open to the floor of the House. Members and visitors speak on equal terms from the floor: once only, and for up to 10 minutes each.

The debate ends with the Opposer and Proposer each making summing-up speeches of up to 10 minutes each. Two votes are then taken: for members only, and for all persons present.

To round off the evening—and make any further points over a drink—a good number of debaters go off to the local pub.

Our style of debating

The structure of the debate has remained largely unchanged since 1886. It is formal in style: all remarks are addressed to the Chair rather than to those holding opposing views. This avoids any sense of personal animosity.

All speakers in the floor debate (after the Proposer and Opposer) speak once only, without interruption. This allows them to develop their ideas.

No heckling is allowed. This ensures that everyone, even the newest speaker, is given a fair hearing.

We believe that this formality enhances our debates, avoiding the free-for-all which tends to favour the loudest voices. The style soon becomes second nature, and there is plenty of room for a good deal of humour.

Topics for debate

Subjects range widely, from current political and educational issues, foreign policy and defence, to social matters and literary and historical topics.

A quick glance at the programme for 1901, seen on this page, shows the persistence of certain themes. Most of the subjects tackled then could occupy present-day debaters:

  • The Channel Tunnel
  • Retaining a conquered nation’s language after annexation
  • The licensing laws and alcohol
  • An offensive and defensive alliance with Russia
  • Import duties on manufactured items
  • A comparison of the Victorian and Elizabethan eras
  • MPs’ pay . . .


Our new season opens on 14 October.

We shall adopt hybrid debates. Members and visitors can choose to attend in person or by Zoom.

You can view the eight topics for the autumn session under The Debates.

List of motions for debate in the Spring Session 1901 Spring Session programme cover 1901, with members