The debates

Spring Session 2020

23 Jan.  That the voting age should be lowered to 16 

30 Jan.  That Queen Elizabeth II should be our last monarch    

6 Feb.  That eating red meat is no longer acceptable

13 Feb.  That the charity sector needs substantial reform

20 Feb.  That Oliver Cromwell is more to be deplored than admired

27 Feb.  That the water industry should be nationalised

5 Mar.  That good taste is overrated 

12 Mar.  That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government

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 . . .


Programme

Our spring season of weekly debates runs every Thursday from 23 January to 12 March 2020.

You can view the eight topics under The Debates.


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