Debating Rules

1.) Motion
The motion of the debate is the topic of the discussion. A motion always starts with “This House …” and proposes what this House stands for. A motion can be either explicit („This House would bring back hanging.”) or not so clearly defined („This House resolves that we should wait and see.”). In this second example the first speaker is free to define the exact meaning of the motion. The speaker could propose letting scientists do what they like – but he could also propose that we should stay out of other nations‘ conflicts. Whatever his definition is, all other speakers must discuss within the parametres of this particular definition of the motion. The motion will be given to the speakers fifteen minutes before the debate.

2.) Sequence
Debates are held with four teams (eight speakers) in total – two teams for the proposition and two for the opposition. Each team consists of two speakers. The proposition puts forward the motion to the rest of the House (or their definition of the motion) and gives arguments in favour of the motion. The opposition gives arguments against the motion as defined by the proposition. The order of speaking is as follows:

1) First speaker for the first proposition-team

2) First speaker for the first opposition-team

3) Second speaker for the first proposition-team

4) … … …

3.) Timing
Each speech lasts for five, occasionally seven minutes. The chairman will knock twice to inform speakers that their time is up. Speakers should then come to a coherent end quickly – they will lose points if they need too much time. Speakers will not lose points if they speak for less than five minutes, but they must make sure that they include all of the relevant arguments in their speech.

4.) The Chairman
The chairman is the presiding judge and the sole interpreter of the debating rules. He opens the debates, keeps order and ensures that the debates are conducted according to the rules. He shall also give procedural guidance. He is also responsible for notifying speakers when their time is up.

5.) Points of Information
During a speech, speakers from the side currently not debating may offer ”points of information”. Points of information introduce relevant information or directly refute what the speaker has just said. They are made by standing up and saying ”Point of information!”. The speaker may then allow the opponent to make the point or not. Nothing may be said by the opponent until the speaker accepts the point of information. Points of information should be no longer than 15 seconds. The speaker has the right to interrupt the point of information at any time.

The first and the last minute that a speaker has at his disposal are protected and may not be interrupted by points of information. The chairman will knock after the first minute to indicate that points may now be made. He will knock again at the beginning of the last minute to indicate that points may no longer be made.

Good speakers accept two or three points of information, but they will never lose their line of argumentation by accepting too many disturbing points of information.

6.) General Rules
No expression shall be accepted which is offensive, personal or defamatory in nature. The chairman may call to order any person using such expressions.

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