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This year, in spite of some first-class speeches, the attendance at the inter-house debates has reached an all-time low. Without an audience, oratory degenerates into sheer time-wasting buffoon-ery, and argument is also a wasted effort upon an audience so small that the vote, if not the judge's decisions, can be forecast.
Notably absent are members of the junior school and gone, -long gone, are the days when they would crowd into Room 22 to support their houses and make their contributions to the debate, amidst crowded tables and chairs and to a large, appreciative audience.
Although lively speeches are still made, knowledge and wit are usually greeted by a practically empty room. It is a wonder that in such conditions, the standard of debate has not deteriorated beyond recognition.
In this year's debating competition, Morris and Whittingham secured byes to the semi-finals. In the first round, Higham proposed, and Mallinson successfully opposed the motion that "Political parties have made a mockery of democracy". Also in the first round Spivey proposed and Allpass opposed the motion that "Modern advertising is a poor advertisement for modern society", the victory going to Allpass.
In the semi-finals Mallinson proposed and Whittingham opposed the motion that "Cinemas should be turned into car parks". Allpass proposed, and Morris opposed the motion that "English should be recognised as the international language".
In the final round, Beaney and Harris of Mallinson proposed, and Bates and Warbis of A1lpass opposed that "The powers of women have increased, are increasing, and ought to be diminished". Miss Hewson, Senior English Mistress at Walthamstow Girls' High School, who very kindly consented to adjudicate at this year's final, did so with ease and humour. She awarded the Norman cup to Mallinson House and although, for the first time, speeches from the floor were considered for the individual prize, it was in fact awarded to Warbis of Allpass House, one of the main speakers.
Our thanks must be accorded to Mr. Allpass, who, this year, was once again able to be our most welcome guest at the final of the verse-speaking and debating competitions for which he awards the prizes.
Thanks are also due to Messrs. Chapman, Marshall, Couch and Shaw, who presided and adjudicated at so many meetings, the attendance at which scarcely justified their efforts. In particular, Mr. Chapman's loss to the School has been a severe blow to the School's debating activities.