The debates

Spring Session 2022

27 Jan.  That Margaret Thatcher’s legacy is more to be admired than Tony Blair’s 

3 Feb.  That social media is bad for society    

10 Feb.  That Maths is the most important subject for young people to learn

17 Feb.  That this House welcomes rewilding

24 Feb.  That the Irish can take much pride in their first 100 years of independence

3 Mar.  That the liberty to know, to utter and to argue freely, according to conscience, should never be constrained  [adapted from Milton’s Areopagitica, 1644]

10 Mar.  That this House regrets that Chaucer is rarely taught today 

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


Covid-19

The society’s experiment with hybrid debates is proving very successful, with increased numbers. 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:

kingstondebating@hotmail.com


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 new season will open in mid-October 2022. We are at present on our summer break

Hybrid debates are proving very successful. Members and visitors can choose to attend in person or by Zoom.

You can view the Spring Season's eight topics under The Debates.


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