Master in Charge: Mr Elam
An old favourite under a new name, the Literary and Debating Society, held its first meeting on the 27th January. Mr. Elam, at the request of the members present, accepted office as chairman, Ridealgh was elected secretary, and a committee, consisting of Ridealgh, Milner, Insole and Percival, was elected.
Four debates have been held this term. At the first, a short one at the end of the General Meeting, the motion was, "That in the opinion of this House the neglect of rural life and the concentration in the towns has been in the best interests of this country." Owing to insufficient announcement of this debate, the wording had to be changed several times, and even then Percival, the opposer, had to speak without notes. Proposing, Plouviez said that Britain was an established industrial country and could not be changed, but Percival maintained that a healthier, more rural life was desired by the people. The motion was defeated 5 votes to 4.
The motion, ''That in the opinion of this House the people of the U.S.S.R. possess as much freedom as the people of Great Britain," caused much keen argument. The proposers, Ridgway and Lander, spoke forcibly on Communist aims and achievements, dwelling mainly on Stalin's ideal of economic freedom. Dunn and Ridealgh for the opposition concentrated on political and civil freedom. The whole debate, as Mr. Elam said after the vote, depended on what you meant by freedom. The motion was defeated by 8 votes to 1.
The last debate of the term, ''That in the opinion of this House Germany should keep her pre-1933 frontiers," was proposed by Dunn, who spoke of the inadvisability of splitting a nation and thus sowing the seeds of future discontent. The opposer, D. Baker, suggested a scientific splitting of Germany into five or more equal states. Ridgway's comment from the floor that after 1918 Germany had a republic that was ''doing quite well'' and that she should be given another chance had a big effect on the voting, which carried the motion by 8 votes to 6.
On the literary side, three meetings have been held. One of these introduced the extremely popular ''Brains Trust''; and the other two have been talks.
Mr. Elam gave the first talk, taking as his title, ''Can the British Parliamentary system be improved?" He explained to a small, but enthusiastic group, just what was wrong with the system, and then detailed several suggested ways of remedying it, which were informally discussed at some length. We were enlightened on ''Proportional Representation," the Philosopher's Stone of Parliamentary Government. Not even the most frivolous-minded could call such a talk dull.
The second talk was by Dr. Warschauer on the subject of "These times, as seen from the Continent." He spoke from the point of view of one who had left Germany and come to Britain, and told us we did not appreciate our privileges until they were taken from us. We were, he said, still very lucky in being free and well fed in spite of what we considered harsh restrictions.
The Brains Trust was easily the most popular item of the term's programme. At the session the members were:- Staff: Mr. Emery, Mr. Rayner, Dr. Reaney and Dr. Whitt; Society: Milner and Plouviez. At first the members seemed a little shy, but they soon warmed up and answered nearly all the questions capably. However, they failed miserably on one or two aeronautical questions, which were answered easily after the session by members of the Fourth Form. ''O Youth''!
We should welcome a few more people at our future meetings, and we remind you that non-members are cordially invited. We can assure them an enjoyable and well-spent evening.
Master in charge: Mr. Elam.
Autumn Term, 1942, was another successful season for the Society. Eight meetings were held, with Mr. Elam in the chair each time, and if the attendance was not always large, it was always keen. At the first meeting D.Ridealgh was re-elected secretary and a committee consisting of J.Milner, J.Percival and C.J.Plouviez was appointed.
There were three serious debates during the term, one on the proposed opening of a second front, forming a topical if inconclusivc first meeting. The second, "that the music usually termed classical is preferable to that usually termed jazz," aroused considerable interest in view of the fact that a gramophone and records were used to illustrate it. The last, on Imperialism, was a much better debate, though not such good entertainment.
One Brains' Trust was held during the term. Mr.Elam, Dr.Reaney and Dr.Warschauer represented the Staff, Dunn, Milner, and Plouviez the Society. Ridgway was a capable Question Master. Questions and answers set a high standard and the audience was well satisfied.
Two "mystery debates" were the innovation of the term. Members had to make three-minute impromptu speeches on motions read out to them. The motions, devised by Milner and Plouviez, were usually ridiculous, and those called on to speak usually silent, but the meetings attracted and amused large audiences.
An intcresting talk on J.W.Dunne's Theory of Time was given by Milner. He kept the audience engrossed, and provoked lengthy, if often irrelevant, discussion. Numerous questions were asked on widely varying aspects of the theory, but the speaker knew his subject and answered to the complete satisfaction of all each time. The first member of the Society to give a talk, he will (we hope) not be the last.
So far this term attendances at the Society have been very poor, and although one or two satisfactory debates have been held, including one mystery debate, a separate discussion group has been formed by the more regular members who despaired of getting a quorum for debates. This group is holding informal discussions on such subjects as education and the Beveridge Report.
The Secretary of the Society this term is P.Dunn. J.Milner is vice-President, and the Committee consists of J.Percival, D.Ridealgh and W.Ridgway.