The event, which followed a similar student debate in the Lords chamber in December 2010, was run by the House of Lords and the social enterprise charity, Debate Mate.
The motion for the debate final was 'this House would not negotiate with terrorists'. Bridge Academy, Hackney proposed, while Eastbury Comprehensive School, Barking opposed the motion. The sides were randomly drawn just before the debate so the pupils did not decide which side of the motion they were supporting.
In a hard-fought and energetic debate Eastbury Comprehensive School pipped Bridge Academy to the winning post by taking the Debate Mate Artemis Urban Debate League Final 2012 trophy. It is the first time the winners have taken part in the programme.
They made powerful points on using diplomacy as the weapon to fight and resolve terrorism, which gave them the edge over their opponents during the debate.
Eastbury also made the case for rationality and negotiation, covering issues such as apartheid. They included the point that ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist’.
Bridge School made the central point that terrorism is wrong and gave an impassioned plea for the victims of terrorism and those left behind. They rebutted Eastbury’s salient point on diplomacy and rationality saying: ‘Once we give terrorists what they want, don’t they just start again’.
The Lord Speaker chaired the debate and congratulated both teams on their arguments, remarking on the refreshing exchanges but highlighting the differences between their debate and those that take place in the Lords.
She said prior to the final: 'I was delighted to be asked to chair the final debate in this wonderful competition. Public speaking impacts on all areas of life and this type of event encourages young people to speak out on issues they feel strongly about, as well as teaching them to express themselves clearly and confidently.'
About the debating programme
Debate Mate’s Urban League Debating Final is the culmination of a 16-week programme for secondary school children which takes place between November 2011 and April 2012. The debate final, hosted in one of the Lords committee rooms, involved teams from two London schools and a total of eight speakers. Over 2000 students from 145 schools competed for a place in the final debate in the Lords.
There were three speakers each on the proposition and opposition teams, who alternated giving five minute speeches, before the debate opened up to the floor for questions to be addressed during the summing up speeches.
CEO and founder of Debate Mate, Margaret McCabe, opened the event at 5.30pm by introducing the Lord Speaker. A reception and prize giving followed in the House of Lords River Room, which the Lord Speaker makes available for events for charities. She congratulated the winners with a short speech at the reception.
About Debate Mate
Debate Mate runs after school debating clubs in areas of high child poverty with students from the top universities as mentors. They use debating to develop communication, interpersonal skills and to build self-esteem. Over 2000 young people take part in Debate Mate programmes around the UK every week.
Artemis Investment Management sponsors the Urban Debate League and supports London schools through school debate clubs. Lindsay Whitelaw, a co-founder of Artemis Investment Management and chairman of the Artemis Charitable Foundation presented the winners’ trophy.
Image: Parliamentary copyright