by Jim Hanson and Diana Thompson, 1998

      updated by Jim Hanson Feb 8, 2008

What happens for each debate


The tournament posts the round including who debate who, where, and with which judge.

Schools typically go to a room/area where they wait to hear what the topic is.


The topic gets announced in a main meeting area and a student cell phones/text messages it to the school.

You get 20-25 minutes to prepare and get to your round after the topic is announced.


The government team prepares a case that supports the resolution (usually pretty closely unless the government team is more kritik/performance oriented).

The government case typically has inherency, plan, and advantages. It includes warrants with references to experts, statistics, good reasons, impacts, etc. It is a lot like a policy case in CX or NDT-CEDA debate but without direct quotations.

The MG prepares responses to expected disadvantages, counterplans, kritiks, topicality arguments, and case responses.

The opposition team prepares disadvantages, counterplans, kritiks, topicality arguments, and case responses to the government cases they expect they will debate.

Both opposition debaters prepare these arguments. The Member of Opposition can focus more on responding to responses to these arguments as he/she will be doing that during the debate.


Be sure to arrive at your debate on time.

You then debate; See the times below.

At the end of the debate, you usually leave the room while the judge decides who won and completes the ballot. The judge may or may not talk with you later about the decision and provide comments for you.

At some tournaments, there will be a room where results will be posted after each round.

Speaking Order and Times

7 min _Prime Minister Constructive (PMC)

8 min _Leader of Opposition Constructive (LOC)

8 min _Member of Government Constructive (MG)

8 min _Member of Opposition Constructive (MOC)

4 min _Leader of Opposition Rebuttal (LOR)

5 min _Prime Minister Rebuttal (PMR)

The judge, called the Speaker of the House (“Madame Speaker” for women; “Mister Speaker” for men), usually times the speeches. You will receive oral time signals (“Five” meaning five minutes left) or hand signals from the judge that tell you how much time you have remaining in your speech (for example, if the judge holds up two fingers, it means you have two minutes remaining in your speech).

The debaters can ask questions speeches after the first minute and before the last minute of the constructive speeches. (These are called Points of Information)

The debaters and audience members can pound the table to support arguments a speaker makes and they can shame arguments to show they dislike the arguments by quietly saying “shame.”


What each speaker should do during the debate

Prime Minister Constructive presents the government case in favor of the resolution

Leader of the Opposition Constructive presents Disadvantages, Counterplan, Kritiks, Topicality Arguments, and Case Responses.

Member of the Government Constructive answers the Disadvantages, Counterplan, Kritiks, Topicality Arguments, and defends the Case.

Member of the Opposition Constructive kicks positions (there is almost never enough time to go for everything), and then defends the Disadvantages, Counterplan, Kritiks, Topicality Arguments, and Case Responses. The FOCUS IS THE LINE BY LINE ARGUMENTS.

Leader of the Opposition Rebuttal WEIGHS THE ARGUMENTS—TOUCHES ON THE KEY POINTS ON THE KEY ISSUES IN THE DEBATE AND MAKES THE LARGER CASE FOR VOTING FOR THE OPPOSITION. Note: avoid making new responses/arguments other than extensions of arguments presented in the Member of Opposition constructive speech.

Prime Minister Rebuttal presents THE REASONS THE GOV SHOULD WIN—RESPONDS TO THE LEADER OF OPPOSITION REBUTTAL. Note: Unless the Member of the Opposition constructive made new arguments, the PMR should not make new responses other than extensions of what the Member of the Government constructive argued.

NOTE—As of 2008, most Parli Judges believe that if the Leader of Opposition Rebuttal did not extend an argument—the judge should not vote on it and the Prime Minister Rebuttal does not need to respond to it (although it is still a good idea for the PMR to respond). Most Parli judges are not supportive of “splitting the block” where the MO and LOR cover different issues.


Introductions to each speech

1. Before you start each speech, a speaker should recognize/thank others. Keep it brief – with your own personal touch

2. Example introductions to your speeches:

“Speaker of the House, Members of Parliament, the government . . .”

“Speaker of the House, My Honorable Opposition and My Humble Partner. We have argued that . . .”

“Speaker of the House, My Distinguished Opposition, thank you for an engaging debate, . . .”


Points of Information (POI) Questions

1. Questions are allowed after the first minute and before the last minute of a constructive speech. Judges usually knock on a desk to indicate questions may begin/stop.

2. Do not stand up during protected time (the first and last minute of a constructive speech). If done purposely, it is considered rude.

3. Asking a POI -

a. Stand up (you can quietly say "Point of Information" if you wish)

b. Wait to be recognized by the person speaking

c. If told "no thank you" or “not at this time” promptly sit down.

d. Use no more than 15 seconds.

4. Tips for handling POIs during your speech

o       Most speakers take up to three questions during their speeches.

o       Many speakers will say “I will take your first of three questions” to put the other team on notice of how many questions they are permitted.

o       Before accepting your last question say, "I will take your last question."

o       When refusing a POI, avoid using phrases like, "I don’t have enough time" or "I need to move on," because you look rushed and disorganized. Try saying, "No thank you" or “Not at this time” or “I’ll take your question after I finish this point.” Keep these refusals short as it saves time.

o       TAKE QUESTIONS ONLY AT THE END OF POSITIONS AND ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE TIME (although you really should take at least two questions during a constructive speech)


Points of Order - used when you believe a rule is violated (usually in a rebuttal to point out new arguments).


1. Stand up and say "Point of Order" (loud enough so everyone in the round but especially  the judge can hear you)

2. THE DEBATER SPEAKING SHOULD SAY “Please stop the time” The judge is supposed to stop the time and recognize you.

3. Explain what rule has been violated (for example, “The PMR has made a new argument in her rebuttal. The argument xxx was not presented in the constructives. It should be disregarded as we have no more speeches to respond to it.”


1. MAKE SURE you remind the judge to stop the time. Ask: “Have you stopped time for the Point of Order?”

2. Listen carefully to what the point of order is.

3. IMMEDIATELY RESPOND “This is not new—my partner argued . . .” “This argument responds to THEIR NEW argument—it is our first chance to respond to their point . . .”


1. The judge should say one of the following:

o       “Point well taken” means that the judge agrees with the point of order. Discard the arguments mooted by the point of order if this occurs and continue with the debate.

o       “Point will be taken under consideration” means that the judge will think about the issue. Continue but you should make arguments that both assume that the judge will and will not agree with the point of order.

o       “Point not well taken” means the judge disagrees with the point of order.  The debate should just continue knowing that the point of order did not have an effect.

2. Some judges may not know what they are supposed to do. Explain the above to them.

3. Some judges will do something else such as ask: “why are you interrupting the speaker?” Handle these situations as best as you can.

Table pounding and Heckling - verbal ways of agreeing and disagreeing with the speaker.

1. If you like a point, you should “pound”

a. "pound" on a desk.

b. say "here, here."

2. If you do not like a point, you should heckle

a.     Say: "Boo" or "Hiss" or “Shame, shame” (don’t do this too loudly nor too often)

c.     Say a witty, humorous comment (careful, you do not want to appear rude).

d.    Avoid being too loud, you want to make a point without interrupting the speaker.

3. If you are heckled, then you need to think up a witty response. Ideas for responding

a.     Mock their heckling. For example, “boo, hiss you” or “this is a sign I have made a good argument.”

b.    Mock their arguments. For example, “No, hiss your argument that said xxxx” (pointing out your opponent’s argument’s flaw)

c.     Provide a specific reply. For example, “As I said, cars produce pollution, that is a fact, not something to be hissed at.”


Types of Resolutions you might debate.

·        Factual Resolution - Fact resolutions ask you to prove the resolution true or false.

Example: This house believes that federal welfare policies have increased poverty.

Government: Show the resolution is probably true. Example: Federal welfare programs have created dependency that entrenches poverty.

Opposition: Show the resolution is probably false. Example: Federal welfare programs provide food, housing, medical care, and job training that directly reduce poverty.

·        Value Resolutions - Value resolutions ask you to evaluate an idea/concept/theory.

Example: This house believes even tough use of the law is justified.

Government: Show the value is justified/is what the resolution says it is. Example: Tough use of the law prevents crime so it is justified.

Opposition: Show the value is not justified/is not what the resolution says it is. Example: Tough use of the law treats people unfairly and does not stop crime.

·        Value Comparison Resolutions - Value comparison resolutions ask you to compare two values.

Example: This house values liberty over community.

Governments: Show the value is more important, better, more justified, etc. than the other value. Example: Liberty is more important than community because it emphasizes individual rights.

Oppositions: Show that the other value is important, better,  more justified, etc. than the value that the government defends in their case. Example: Community is more important people consideration of groupings of people is more important than focusing on individuals.

·        Policy Resolutions - Policy resolutions support a new policy action.

Example: The United States should regulate the internet.

Governments: Asks you to present a proposal; this proposal is usually defended by arguing there is a problem (significance), the current policy isn’t solving or is actually causing this problem (inherency), and here is a proposal that will solve the problem (solvency). Often, the government will support a specific example of the policy resolution. Example: Internet sales of bad prescription drugs is increasing. Current policy permits this. The federal government will regulate prescription drug sales over the internet. This would stop sales of bad prescription drugs.

Oppositions: Show the government proposal would be disadvantageous (disads), that the problem isn’t so big (significance), that the current policy is solving the problem (inherency) and that the affirmative proposal will not solve the problem (solvency). Show that the government proposal does not support the resolution. Show that another action would be superior to the government proposal. Show that the assumptions of the government case are harmful (kritiks). Example: Internet sales of bad prescription drugs are not increasing. Current policy gives states the ability to stop such sales. Federal action will not reduce prescription drug sales. Federal action will undermine state and local solutions which are needed for ensuring innovative policies and for good state-federal relations.

·        Metaphor Resolutions - Resolutions that use vague or figurative language.

Example: This house believes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Let’s you do anything you want on the government so long as you can explain how the government case fits the idea behind the government. For example, you could argue that preventive medicine should be promoted more. Explanation: Preventive medicine is like “an apple a day” that prevents a need for curative medical care from doctors.

The opposition generally has to argue against whatever case the government presents (unless it is an unreasonable interpretation of the metaphor). For example, you could argue that preventive medicine should be promoted more. Explanation: Preventive medicine is like “an apple a day” that prevents a need for curative medical care from doctors.


Sample resolutions that you might debate.

This house supports the right to work.

This house believes quality of life is more important than presence of life.

This house would balance the books.

The United States federal government should support unrestrained trade.

This House believes the right to privacy is more important than the freedom of press.