Scotland’s finest young debating talent on show at Holyrood


Whether historic debt between Commonwealth countries should be written off will be the subject of debate at Holyrood on Thursday when Scotland’s finest young debaters gather for the final of the Law Society of Scotland Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament 2014

It is the culmination of a tournament which involved 128 teams from schools across Scotland. This year, pupils debated subjects as diverse as the abolition of the minimum wage and quotas for women in Parliament.

Chaired by Deputy Presiding Officer John Scott MSP, the final sees four teams battle for the first prize. The teams taking part are:

  • Craigmount High (Edinburgh) – Liam Stewart and Michael Davidson
  • Douglas Academy (Milngavie) - Amitai Gottleib and Rosie Duthie
  • Glenalmond College (Perthshire) - Robert Wilson and Issy Arnaud
  • Trinity High (Renfrewshire) - Sean Cosgrove and David Campbell                           

Speaking ahead of the final, Deputy Presiding Officer John Scott MSP said:

“It is fitting that the final of the Dewar Debate takes place in the Chamber of the nation’s Parliament, a place for debate and discussion about issues which affect us all.

“With more than 250 pupils taking part in this year’s tournament the finalists are to be congratulated for getting to this point and I look forward to welcoming them all to the Parliament. The final will see debate of the highest standard and I am sure we shall enjoy listening to what promises to be a lively debate.”

The event will be webcast live on the Parliament’s website from 18.00 to 21.45 ( on Thursday 5 June.

Established in 1999, Scotland’s largest annual schools debating tournament is open to pupils in all Scottish secondary schools. The competition aims to promote an understanding of the importance of debate, advocacy and communication to the legal profession, democracy and society at large. Organised and run by the Law Society of Scotland, the tournament is dedicated to the memory of the late First Minister Donald Dewar MSP.

Heather McKendrick, careers and outreach manager at the Law Society, said:

“The teams have done tremendously well to reach the final and it’s set to be an exciting end to the tournament when they meet in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament.

“This year we have included motions relating to the Commonwealth and as the Games approach this summer, it’s relevant for us all to consider what it means to be part of this group of countries. The debating teams themselves have been very enthusiastic about this theme and came up with thought-provoking arguments during the earlier heats when they debated whether the UK should have boycotted the Commonwealth heads of government meeting  last year or whether Commonwealth countries which consider homosexuality to be a crime should be expelled from the group.

 “I’m looking forward to hearing what the teams have to say when they take to the floor to debate the final motion in the grand setting of the Parliament’s Debating Chamber.”

The winning school will receive a trophy and prize of £1,000, donated by the Law Society of Scotland, and runners-up will receive £250, donated by The Glasgow Bar Association. All finalists receive individual quaiches and certificates to commemorate their success and this year’s sponsors Hodder Gibson Publishers will donate educational books to the value of £500, to be shared by the winning and runner-up school.

The judges for the event are:

  • Jon Dye, Former Chairman of the English Speaking Union (Presiding Judge).
  • Irene McGrath, Chair of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council.
  • Rob Marrs, Senior Policy Advisor, Law Society of Scotland, and formerly speech and debates officer, English Speaking Union.
  • Steven Docherty, Head of Conflict Resolution, Wright Johnston & Mackenzie LLP.
  • Mark McDonald MSP.


Photographs of the event will be available free of charge. Please contact the Scottish Parliament photographer Andrew Cowan on 0131 348 5878.

Contact information

Media information

Public information

  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
  • Text 07786 209 888
  • Ask a question online through live chat
  • We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in British Sign Language through contactSCOTLAND-BSL

Keep up to date with us on:

keep up to date with what's happening in Parliament on Facebook Follow the Scottish Parliament on Twitter @ScotParl keep up to date with what's 
happening in Parliament on YouTube