The Rational Parliament started as an experiment. We have refined our debate format since starting. The format we used in our first sitting (GM food, on 10 September 2013) is below for reference.
1. Members post their own feelings, issues and policy motions onto the Policy Board with sticky notes. Each member has three sticky dots with which they should mark the three notes they want to hear as part of the debate.
2. Members are asked to take a seat in the chamber.
3. The Speaker of the House opens the sitting and introduces the debate topic and the title motion, which will be refined during the debate and voted on at the end.
4. Two or three members who have researched the topic summarise their studies and other research for no longer than five minutes each (‘Openers’).
This lasts up to 90 minutes. During this time, members are free to walk around to post on the Policy Board, vote for motions with sticky dots, buy a drink, visit the toilet…
5. Other members question the researchers and debate the research.
6. A clerk selects feelings and issues as posted on the Policy Board based on criteria* and hands these to the Speaker, who invites the relevant members to elaborate these notes.
7. Members debate these and question each other.
8. A Clerk selects motions posted on the Policy Board based on criteria* and hands these to the Speaker, who invites the relevant members to propose them. Between now and the vote, members give voice to feelings and issues but priority to motions.
9. Motions are debated and voted on, with members holding coloured cards to cast their votes; the Speaker judges whether the motion passed or was too close to call.
10. Summary of motions passed and rejected; these are incorporated into the final wording of the title motion.
11. Two minutes for reflection.
12. Recess. Members vote on the title motion at the ballot box. The vote is counted.
13. Result of the vote is announced.
14. Full recess declared.
*Policy Board selection criteria
The Clerk will select the issues, feelings and motions posted on the Policy Board for debate in the chamber that:
- have attracted a large share of the sticky dots used by members to indicate support; or
- are judged by the Clerk to sustain the quality or breadth of the debate, such as novel or provocative motions.