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Opposition Leader writes to House Speaker regarding decision to block debate of write-off motions

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Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2019. 4:38 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: The Leader of the Opposition of Belize, John Briceno today wrote a letter to the Speaker of the House, Laura  Tucker Longsworth to express his displeasure with her decision to not allow a debate for the write off motions presented by Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

At the meeting of the House of Representatives on October 4, 2019, Briceno questioned the decision to which Longsworth said that they would be no debate.

Barrow presented a string of bills and motions at the House sitting that day.

Briceno says that the decision taken by the House Speaker was in denial of his constitutional rights and duty as member of the House of Representative and as the Leader of the Opposition and disregard for the opposition members.

Briceno explained that the practice in the House of Representatives is for motions and bills to be referred to committees for consideration, deliberation and then reported back to the House for debate and approval.

“Since the House did not vote to suspend the standing orders to deal with that motion, which came back from committee, my right to comment of participate in a debate under those circumstances is undeniable. Your ruling, therefore, is contrary to the spirit and letter of the standing orders. Likewise it is contrary to precedent and practice governing the passage of motions and bills relating to government business,” Briceno explained.

In addition, Briceno said that the decision to stifle debate on a matter of national importance may have a ‘deleterious’ effect on the democratic process and on how the House of Representatives functions as a rules based deliberative and oversight institution.

“ It could have also given the effect of having taken away my right and duty and given by the Constitution to provide the oversight on the Executive and to hold government accountable for their action,” Briceno added.

The letter ended by reiterating that the sacred principle of parliamentary democracy is that “ the minority will have its say and the majority will have its way.”

Briceno says that the actions of the House Speaker may have suppressed the first half of that principle and emboldened the government side to legislate unchallenged and unfettered.

 

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