Office of the Leader of the Opposition
Charter House, Belize City, Belize
Our Ref: OL/GEN/2019/(15)
8th October 2019
Hon. Laura Tucker Longsworth
Speaker of the House of Representatives
National Assembly Building
I write to express my displeasure over your decision not to allow debate on the write off motions that were presented to the House of Representative during the last sitting of the House of Representatives on Friday, 4th October 2019. Your arbitrary decision not to allow me and other opposition members to comment on the forty-thousand dollar Write-Off Motion relating to Joshua Perdomo, the son of the current cabinet secretary, was clearly a denial of my constitutional right and duty as a member of the House of Representatives and, in particular, as the leader of the Opposition.
The practice in the House is that Motions and Bills are 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 or 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.
Your 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 Representative functions as a rules-based, deliberative and oversight institution. It could also give the effect of having taken away my right and duty given by the Constitution to provide oversight on the Executive and to hold the government accountable for their action.
It is said that a sacred principle of parliamentary democracy is that “the minority will have its say and the majority will have its way.” Sadly, your actions in relation to this issue may have suppressed the first half of this principle and have emboldened the government side to legislate unchallenged and unfettered.
Hon. John Briceño
Leader of the Opposition