The motion was: Is Technology our Master rather than our servant?
Before the debate it was voted our ‘Master’ after is was voted our servant by 17 to 13 !

Ken was in charge

Malcolm was arguing

The rest were listening!

THE GREAT DEBATE 2014   took place in front of a packed chamber, members sitting on either side of the floor of the house as per the Commons.

The Chairman opened the proceedings by referring back to last year’s debate when the rather pessimistic motion was roundly defeated.  He then gave a short introduction to the motion before the house and members  took up their positions according to their views

The motion was:-


The motion was proposed by Keith Fieldhouse who gave a very convincing and well developed presentation.  His speech began with the words “You will all agree…..” but that was presumably wishful thinking.  However one member did cross the floor of the house  at this stage  to join the supporters of the motion (though he confessed afterwards that it was because he was sitting in a draught rather than that he had been persuaded by the speaker)

Next up, the First speaker in opposition was Malcolm Wakeman  who spoke passionately and  amusingly  but pressing home the serious point that technology would always be our servant not our master as long as we had an “OFF” switch to hand .  Ignoring the vibrations in his trouser pocket and the ring tone emanating from the mobile phone therein, he produced a wall switch  and demonstrated with great skill how it worked.

The next speaker was Roy Davis whose task was to second the motion and this he did in a most impressive manner, displaying the results of much research, fact finding and knowledge of his subject.  He produced a  word, new to many of us – namely  “Nomophobia” meaning a hatred of mobile phones especially when used by the person next to you on the train or in a group at the next table in a restaurant.  Roy’s presentation was so well stocked with salient points that the Chairman had to  show him the “TIME UP” card as it looked as though the house might be in for a late sitting.

Last but by no means least was David Keir who  rounded the speeches off very well with a heartfelt declaration that  technology was indeed our servant and it must never be allowed to become master.

The debate was then opened to the floor and several members  made valuable contributions  and brought forward a variety of views.

The final speaker from the floor was called and, holding his watch aloft he proclaimed  “This is our master”.  How right he was.  The fingers on the clock were drawing close to midday and the chairman called for a show of hands  and took the count.

The result :

The motion was defeated!   The members of Probus 87 had shown once again that they believed themselves masters of today’s technology and that it was  their servant.

The house rose.  Everyone seemed satisfied with the result even if they were not entirely sure which side had won!

The above was brought to you by our special robotic reporter: ken harler

THE GREAT DEBATE Thursday 13th November 2014 2014

The Motion: ‘Excecutive Bonuses Should be Banned in a Democratic Society’
Organised by Sandy Laird

A vote was taken from all members and at the beginning of the debate with the result that the motion was not supported by 17 to 13.

At the end of the debate  a vote came down fort the motion by 16 to 14. HOWEVER THERE IS SOME DOUBT THAT MEMBERS WERE LISTENING TO THE ARGUMENTS CAREFULLY ENOUGH !

- Below is a more accurate report of the proceedings, writen by the organiser Sandy Laird:




MOTION :- This Club considers that Executive Bonusses should be banned jn a Democracy.

On the 13th October the Probus’87 club had a debate. We have one debate a year, and this year the motion was “This Club believes that Executive Bonuses should be banned”. It was a lively morning, with some very well researched contributions. It proved a complex subject, as World salary levels, employment benefits like cars and entertainment, housing and helicopters, pensions, and many other ingenious ways of being rewarded, come into the picture.  Share options and delayed payments come into play.  This was called “the total remuneration package”.

The question of incentivising performance by giving bonuses for achieving “Targets” was debated. At lower levels, where direct production can be measured, such incentives work and are desirable.

It was noted that in many instances, a senior fellow director or head hunter may set the bonus scheme and the targets to trigger payment, and this was clearly dangerous. Too often, meeting targets did not depend on the work of the executive, but on many others. Shareholders’ should be given more power to control excessive payments and this could be done through the law.

Bonuses related to measurable benefits were approved of, but bonuses for failure and early departure and for targets over which the executives had no control or were the result of others’ work, were rejected.  

Some bonus systems encouraged recklessness as evidenced in some of the Banking disasters. It was generally felt that executives should be paid a salary (with all the perks clearly defined) to do the best job they can, to maximise returns for shareholders, to promote the growth and long term stability, and the public relations image, and ensure good employee relations and working conditions, for the company.  Executives are paid to do a job and they should get on and do it to the full, for their total remuneration package.

We must realise we are now in a world market for top talent, and sometimes have to match World payment and employment conditions.

Bonuses and farewell gifts for Civil Servants should be totally banned. Payments to leave because of performance at all levels should be banned, in both the Public and Private sectors.

Pension benefits and minimising tax came into it and raised a lot of complex and interesting issues.

It would be useful for the Government to help employers by making certain bonuses and terms of payment
illegal by law, but banning anything can lead to “unintended consequences” and must be treated cautiously as it could lead to mass emigration of our best managers.

There were a lot of references to Greed and Morality in modern business and the secularisation of the country affecting the way senior executives behave.

It was a fascinating morning, and the Motion was carried 16 – 14.

THE GREAT DEBATE Thursday 12th October 2017


No they don’t  /  Yes they do!!!

Watch this space for details

Has anyone a photograph of this great event?

- The Event was Organised by Chairman Sandy Laird -