In 2018, much to the disgust of the Y13s who had prepared carefully for the return leg of the regular debate against Caterham School, weather caused the confrontation to be called off. It was a close run thing in 2019, but on Wednesday 6th February the roads had thawed, and Caterham School sent their premier Economics student to Lingfield to propose the motion “This House Believes that the government should act now to close the gender pay gap” .
The three Lingfield College students opposing the motion, Caitlyn, Oli and Adam had rushed to prepare for this debate as they had spent the prior two weeks intensively researching and preparing a model budget for the IEA Budget competition - following in the footsteps of last year’s team, who made it into the top 10 finalists in 2018.
With the introductions out of the way, the teams set about explaining their points of view, and providing the evidence to support their respective stances. For a while each team seemed to gain the upper hand, with Caterham using statistics deftly to support intervention, but then Oli effectively questioned the validity of the statistics – how were they gathered, have they been adapted to meet an agenda, should policy be based on statistics?
Lingfield then got on the front foot, citing changes from the 1970s to date that gave clear evidence to a closing gender pay gap for similar roles within firms that had occurred without additional legislation. Additional ground was made by showing the beneficial impacts, over time, of existing legislation, and how opportunities for women are adjusting as more achieve high level qualifications, and as the nature of work changes.
Following the speeches there was a round of rigorous questioning between the teams, and then from the floor. Oli took to heart the challenges to his research, and was suitably firm in rebutting any suggestion he had misinterpreted the data, and both teams passionately supported their stances. On this occasion the emotive appeal from the Caterham team was outdone by the factual approach of the Lingfield students, and the motion lost 14 votes to 4.
Each member of the Lingfield team made a significant contribution to the win; Adam's introduction was clear and concise, with points very clearly separated. Oli's main speech had a solid foundation in factual evidence, as well as pulling apart some of the support for the opposition’s arguments. Caitlyn's summing-up was clear and eloquent. There was something to learn from the exceptional oratory style of the Caterham students (all experienced public speakers), but res ipsa locitur, as the Latin goes.
A return match is in the process of being planned.