Parliamentary Debate

Named after the style of debate used in the British Parliament, Parliamentary Debate features clashes between two-person teams.

 The "Government" supports the resolution, and the "Opposition" negates it. The order of speeches:

  • Prime Minister Constructive 7 min.
  • Leader of the Opposition Constructive 8 min.
  • Member of the Government Constructive 8 min.
  • Member of the Opposition Constructive 8 min.
  • Leader of the Opposition Rebuttal 4 min.
  • Prime Minister Rebuttal 5 min.

The judge is called the Speaker of the House. There is more than one judge in out rounds.

The topic, different each round, is announced to both teams 15-20 minutes before the debate is to begin; each team uses that time to prepare to either support or negate the resolution.

Rules forbid bringing written evidence into the round. For some programs, the goal is to be reasonable and convincing using knowledge expected of a well-informed college student. In other programs, teams research before tournaments and prepare briefs in anticipation of current policy controversies. For some programs, value is placed on being reasoned and organized, and style is more important than it is in policy debate. In other programs, substance trumps style, and the paradigm and approach is more aligned with policy debate. Speakers may interrupt each other with "Points of Information" (questions) during constructive speeches and "Points of Order" in rebuttal speeches, where warranted.

To be competitive in Parliamentary Debate, speakers must be strong in at least three main areas:

  • General knowledge
  • The theories and practice of argumentation and debate
  • Research

 What you should expect to get out of this event:

  1. You will learn about reasoning, what makes an argument good or bad, and how arguments support cases.
  2. You will learn various ways to build convincing cases.
  3. You will learn how to respond to the arguments of others.
  4. You will learn how to structure information for clear and effective presentation.
  5. You will enjoy sharing your observations and insights with coaches and team members in practice, and with opponents and audiences in competition.
  6. You will learn greater control of your voice and body, making both more expressive.
  7. You will get better at thinking on your feet, practicing self-control and poise under pressure.
  8. You will learn to become a more careful listener.
  9. You will read more widely and perceptively, sorting and gathering material which you can use in your debates.
  10. You will develop your memory, learning to depend on it to provide you with information you need at the moment.
  11. You will learn to become a better observer of the world around you, staying alert for information and viewpoints that will make you a better thinker and speaker.
  12. You will better understand yourself, searching your own experience to help you find worthwhile things to say.
  13. You will learn a lot by watching excellent debaters.

Special features of this event in competition:

Though a relatively new event, PD is being offered at many tournaments, so opportunities to compete are abundant. Two national tournaments—NPDA and NPTE—are the most popular.

What you will do to be competitive in this event:

Initial preparation: about 6 weeks

  1. select the PD event
  2. discuss and practice topic analysis 1 week
  3. research and brief topic areas
  4. discuss and practice case construction 1 week
  5. discuss and practice argument presentation 1 week
  6. discuss and practice rebuttal 1 week
  7. practice rounds 2 weeks
  8. research and prepare useful material continuously
  9. study, discuss, and practice argument and debate theory continuously