Teams from the secondary schools across Hitchin and Harpenden pitted their debating skills against each other last Thursday at the inaugural Hitchin and Harpenden Inter-Schools Debating Competition. Hosted by Peter Lilley, the event was held at the Priory School, Hitchin and was won by James Stebbings and Max Jenner from Sir John Lawes School, Harpenden.
Peter Lilley said: “The standard was remarkably high and very few marks separated all the teams. So we had difficultly choosing the winner, but eventually selected Sir John Lawes for their very impressive performance proposing the motion “This House would allow prisoners to vote”. The set up inevitably meant a bit of rough justice, but the main thing was to give pupils the chance to participate in debating and stimulate an interest in public affairs, as well as providing an enjoyable event for both participants and audience.”
The teams were assessed on their eloquence and ability to martial the arguments by an all-party panel of judges made up of Peter Lilley MP and Councillors Joan Kirby and Lawrence Oliver and independent chair The Revd Canon Michael Roden – Vicar of St Mary’s Church, Hitchin.
Peter Lilley explained: “The idea for a debating competition was suggested by some young people on their annual visit to the House of Commons – when I invite all those approaching 18 on the electoral register to see first-hand how Westminster works. They asked me to help facilitate it and I am delighted that we had such a great response from the secondary schools in Hitchin and Harpenden.
“I am continually impressed by the broad interest in current affairs shown by the young people in Hitchin and Harpenden and this was certainly in evidence on Thursday evening. I would like to thank the Priory School for hosting us and all the teachers and pupils who participated – it was a very enjoyable evening and it was generally agreed that this should become an annual event.”