TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL DEBATING AT THE ANNUAL
1. LISTEN TO THE DEBATE – YOU ARE ENTITLED TO CHANGE YOUR
Prior to this Conference your Group ought to have discussed all the
motions for debate on the agenda and formed an opinion about each one.
Whilst you may have been instructed how to vote on each motion by your
Group, it is important for you to listen to the debate and understand what
is being said. Experience has shown that many Groups are not particularly
well informed about Plus matters, for various reasons. You might discover
that valid points are raised which your Group was not aware of, and you
might decide that the way you have been instructed to vote is wrong. When
a Group elects a delegate, it gives that delegate the power to ’exercise
all rights of voting' on its behalf. This includes the right to change
how you will vote if you consider it right to do so.
2. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
When a vote is being taken, the National Chairman will ask for votes
for or against each motion. They may also ask for abstentions. An abstention,
in 18 Plus terms, means ’I do not wish to vote'. The Annual National Conference
is your main opportunity to have a say in the running of the Federation
and you should make the most of this chance. If you are not sure
which way to vote then do something about it. Ask a question or raise
your concerns as part of the debate, or discuss it
with other members during breaks in the Conference so that you can form
3. MIND YOUR MANNERS!
In 1995 the Conference became quite confusing because
members chose inappropriate moments to ask questions. Bear the
following in mind and the proceedings will be less confusing.
a. The National Chairman will probably allow a short period of
time for questions before the debate on a motion is opened. There is a
fine line between a legitimate question and something that ought to be
raised during the debate. If you are expecting the proposer of the motion
to answer the question, then you really ought to ask it during the debate.
Your question will be answered when the motion is being summed up. If you
have a procedural question or you don’t understand what the motion is trying
to do, then ask it when the National Chairman invites questions.
4. PROCEDURAL MOTIONS
b. Members who notify the National Chairman in advance that they
wish to speak on a motion will be allowed to do so alter the short period
allowed for questions and before the Chairman allows anyone else to speak.
This means that members wanting to raise points of order, points of information
or propose amendments will not be acknowledged during this time, with one
exception. Procedural motions will be allowed, although the delegate must
make it clear to the National Chairman that they wish to propose a procedural
c. Should something unexpected happen during a debate, the National
Chairman might need to seek advice on how to proceed. Often members try
and help by offering suggestions, but this tends to create more confusion.
The National Chairman has a number of very experienced members sitting
near them for such an occasion and would prefer the Conference to bear
with them whilst a method of dealing with the situation is agreed.
The two main procedural motions used within Plus are ’Move to the
vote’ and 'Move to next business’. To propose either of these, a delegate
may go directly to the front of the queue at either of the delegates' microphones.
The only words the delegate can say are their name, Group and which procedural
motion they wish to propose. A procedural motion will not be accepted if
the delegate says anything else before proposing it.
Delegates should think carefully before proposing either type of procedural
motion. Many members complain there is too little debate on motions before
a ’move to the vote' is proposed. Similarly there is a view that
an unpopular motion ought to be voted on and defeated instead of having
a ’move to next business’ proposed.
One final tip on procedural motions. A 'Move to next business' cannot
be proposed whilst an amendment is under discussion. It can only be proposed
when a substantive motion is being discussed.
Amendments to motions will be allowed providing they do not alter the
sense of the original motion, are not a direct negative of the original
motion, or require changes to the Constitution if the original did not.
6. IT’S YOUR CONFERENCE!
Once an amendment has been proposed and seconded, debate will then be
confined to whether or not to accept the amendment. E.g. if the substantive
motion is to increase the upper age limit to 36 and someone tries to amend
it to 40 the Conference should debate why the number 36 should be changed
to the number 40. It is very easy to continue debating the motion as a
whole, but this is not allowed. The National Chairman will try and clarify
what is to be debated, but ask if in doubt.
Remember, it is up to you how motions are debated. They may be broken
down into smaller parts as an aid to the debate if desired, but this can
only be done through a procedural motion if not already specified by the
proposer. In the absence of any decision from the delegates, the National
Chairman will manage each motion according to the wishes of the proposers.
Prepared by the General Purposes Committee & ANC ’96 Chairman.