British Parliamentary Debate Set-Up

  • Motion: A statement or idea that has arguments in favour of and against it
    • Ex. THW ban zoos.
  • Two sides: Government and Opposition
    • Government argues in favour of the motion, opposition argues against
  • Four teams: Opening Government, Opening Opposition, Closing Government, Closing Opposition
    • Although two teams are both arguing for the same objectives, each team is ranked independently!
  • In a round, you will be given the motion and then 15 minutes to prepare your arguments!

Types of Motions

  • THW – This house would
    • Typically relates to implementation of something/practical
  • THBT – This house believes that
  • THR – This house regrets
  • THS – This house supports
  • THO – This house opposes
  • THP – This house prefers
  • THA – This house as, x (an actor)


  • A roadmap for your speech
  • What points are you bringing up? When are you going to do your refutation?
    • What are the key points/most important parts of your speech?
    • Otherwise judges may miss what you feel is key content.
  • Introduced at the beginning of your speech and flagged throughout

Points of Clarification

  • Points of Clarification (POCs) are used to clarify components of the model which are unclear
    • Ex. Did they define the house? If it’s a world building motion, like THR, do they describe what the world looks like? If it’s a policy motion, do they describe what the policy in question will look like?
  • POCs must be given by opposition members during the first minute of the Prime Minister’s speech
    • The Prime Minister must take any POCs which are offered
  • POCs ≠ POIs
    • If you treat it as such, your judge may penalize you and won’t consider the POI


Opening Government (OG): Prime Minister (PM) & Deputy Prime Minister (DPM)

Opening Opposition (OO): Leader of Opposition (LO) & Deputy Leader of the Opposition (DLO)

Closing Government (CG): Member of Government (MG) & Government Whip (GW)

Closing Opposition (CO): Member of Opposition (MO) & Opposition Whip (GW)

Speaking Order:

Front Half Roles

  • 1. Prime Minister (PM) (5mins)
    • Modelling: Defining the relevant terms of the motion ( i.e. where does this debate happen, how will it work, ex. If the motion is in regards to a policy, how would it be implemented)
    • Constructive: Two-three pieces of argumentation that prove the motion is true or favourable
      • Your constructive should explain why your argument is true, why it’s important (impacts!) and how it proves that the motion is true or favourable
    • First + last 30s are protected time
  • 2. Leader of the Opposition (LO) (5mins)
    • Constructive (2-3)
    • Refutation/Responses: Explaining why the opposing side’s case is incorrect, unimportant, or does not prove that their side of the motion is true
    • First + last 30s are protected time

Protected Time and POIs

  • Each speech has a 30s of protected time at the beginning of the speech and the end.
  • What this means is that you cannot ask any POIs (point of information) during this time
  • Points of Information are used to ask questions about someone on the opposing bench’s speech.
    • Every member in the round should take at least 1-2 POIs during a round of debate.
    • These can be used to point out inconsistencies, weaken the other side’s case, or clarify an aspect of your own speech.
  • It helps you to remain engaged in debate!
  • You get to choose whose POIs to take and who to ignore! Finish your thoughts first!

Methods of Refutation

  • Disproving
    • Disprove the whole point → Not examples or small parts!
    • Why is what they said not true? Attack their mechanisms, why won’t it look like what they’re saying it will?
    • Do they have logical flaws?
  • Mitigating
    • Are the harms or benefits they describe not as extreme as they asserted?
  • Even if….
    • Even if their point is true, why does it not matter to the round? Or why is it actually really bad?
  • It’s good to have a few points of refutation to a single point!
    • This style is good for if the judges do not agree with your other aspects of refutation!
    • Be careful of time management!

Front Half Roles Cont.

  • 3. Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) (5 mins; protected time)
    • Refutation of the LO
    • Extending on the PM’s Constructive: Add a new layer of analysis or depth to your partner’s case
    • Rebuilding: Address the holes/attacks on your partner’s case, explain why they are untrue, unimportant, or misrepresent your case
    • Can present a new piece of constructive (not mandatory, should only be used when absolutely necessary)
  • 4. Deputy Leader of the Opposition (DLO) (5 mins; protected time)
    • Refutation of OG
    • Extending on the LO’s Constructive
    • Rebuilding
    • Can present a new piece of constructive
  • Both of these members can also frame/explain why their partners case is important to the round to help to cement its relevance

Closing Half

  • 5. Member of Government (MG) (5 mins, protected time)
    • Extension: Unique Substantive
      • Tip: Considering an actor analysis can help to generate back half content!
    • Refutation of the Opposition Bench (esp. The DLO)
  • 6. Member of the Opposition (MO) (5 mins, protected time)
    • Extension: One unique piece of constructive
    • Refutation of the government bench (esp. The MG)
  • All back half content cannot knife, contradict, or repeat arguments made by their front half.

Closing Half Cont.

  • 7. Government Whip
    • Biased summary of the round
      • Explaining why your team specifically has won the round
      • Ideas are organized through themes or team comparisons
      • Incorporate your rebuilding
    • Weighing: Why are your ideas more important/valuable than other arguments presented?
    • Refutation of the LO
    • No new content!
  • 8. Opposition Whip
    • Same as the gov. whip!

Speaking Scores

  • 65-70: didn’t fulfill role in a way that hindered the debate (i.e. not engaging with the other teams at all)
  • 70-75: Did not engage with other teams but had some contributions (i.e. not comparative but still make arguments, not proper impacts or mechs but point titles, didn’t refute but spoke so people could engage with something)
  • 75-80: fulfills role – debate the motion, has mechanisms & impacts, responds to other team
  • 80-85: Fulfills previous requirements, but also presents harder to make arguments, actor analysis, very comparative, identifies & argues key clashes