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Donald Dewar Debating Tournament

As a volunteer judge I was invited to attend the 2016/2017 final held in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Established in 1999, the tournament is dedicated to the memory of the late First Minister Donald Dewar. It is Scotland’s largest debating tournament and is open to pupils from secondary schools all round Scotland. The tournament is organised by the Law Society of Scotland and sponsored by Hodder Gibson publishers and the Glasgow Bar Association.

There are four teams with two teams for the proposition and two teams for the opposition of the motion. The motion was “This House would deny smokers free access to healthcare”. The proposition and opposition team debating second are not present during the first debate.

The debate commences with the first proposition speaker followed by the first opposition speaker and thereafter the second speakers. Each speaker has 6 minutes, with questions allowed by the other team after the first minute but before the final minute. The Chamber is filled with pupils from various schools who are allowed 15 minutes to ask questions with the best floor speaker receiving a £50 book token. Thereafter one member from each team provides a 3 minute reply speech commencing with the opposition. Once the debate has finished a panel of five judges decide the winner.

The winning team was Douglas Academy from Milngavie and will receive £1,000 towards their debating society and a trophy. Both the winning and runner-up team receive book vouchers.

for more information please contact Tom Hempleman.

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