TELEVISION licence fees and doping in sport were two of the topics discussed by students in a debating contest.

Three teams of students from Hampshire schools battled it out at Queen Mary's College (QMC) in the Hampshire qualifying round of of the UK's toughest debating competition - Debating Matters.

The competition is run by the Institute of Ideas, for sixth form students, emphasising substance, not just style, and the importance of taking ideas seriously.

Debating Matters, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, launched in 2003 and is aimed to present schools and colleges with an innovative and engaging approach to debating.

Pupils from QMC, in Cliddesden Road, Basingstoke, went up against teams from The Godolphin School and Bay House School and Sixth Form, all vying for a place in the regional finals.

Following an evening of hard-fought debate, The Godolphin School were victorious, after proving they could answer some tough questions to triumph.

Students were judged on their knowledge as well as their public speaking skills.

Adam Rawcliffe, partnership manager from the Institute of Ideas, said: "All schools enjoyed making contributions to the debates from the floor as well as speaking on the panels.

"Jemima Holt, from Bay House School, particularly impressed the judges with her sharp contributions from the floor and was named Best Individual.

"During the debates students were grilled by a group of expert judges and professionals from across Hampshire."

The judging panel included commander Ian Harrop, nuclear submarine engineer officer fro the Royal Navy, Sarah McIntyre, justice of the peace for Buckinghamshire Bench, Simon Mouatt, associate professor in economics at Southampton Solent University, Simon Thompson, chairman of corporate and financial group CIPR, and James King, a student at the University of Oxford.

The Bay School will now progress to the South Regional Final held next spring.