House Speaker Talks Integrity … Recall Mechanism … Standing Orders

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Updated: July 27, 2016

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word integrity as being that of having a firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values; it is also defined as being honest and fair.  With all that has been unfolding we asked the Speaker of the House on the matter of the integrity of elected officials and of it being called into question and whether there is a standing order of the House that rules against a person’s integrity being called into question.

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE

“If there were standing orders to kick people out of the house whose integrity have been called into question if you look at the history of Belize the amount of representatives whose integrity have been called into question I don’t know you wouldn’t have much. There isn’t any such thing like that on the streets. When you are in the house the house plays by its own rules. The rules of the house and that is how I deal with the debates, according to the rules of the house. Anything outside of the house is not any concern of the house especially since for example you would know that all sayings by members in the house are cloaked with immunity so it is a specific purpose to ensure that what happens in the house is in the house and outside of it has nothing to do with it. Yes I mean there are certain rules and regulations that allow people to make motions concerning the behavior of members but I haven’t seen any motion I don’t know of any motion.”

In the Belize Constitution, Chapter four of the Laws of Belize, Section 121, it states, quote, “This section applies to the Governor-General, members of the National Assembly, members of the Belize Advisory Council, members of the Public Services Commission, members of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, public officers, officers of statutory corporations and government agencies, and such other officers as may be prescribed by law enacted by the National Assembly.”  It goes on to read, quote, “The persons to whom this section applies shall conduct themselves in such a way as not to place themselves in positions in which they have or could have a conflict of interest; to compromise the fair exercise of their public or official functions and duties; to use their office for private gain; to demean their office or position; to allow their integrity to be called into question; or to endanger or diminish respect for, or confidence in, the integrity of the Government.”  End of quote.  Peyrefitte spoke on this issue and how it works.

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE

“Do you have any evidence that any member of the house is guilty of that and if you have any evidence of any member of the house is guilty of that then whomever you vote for or whoever is your MP in the house ask them to table a motion if you have evidence.”

RENEE TRUJILLO

“But when your integrity is called into question does it mean that guilt has to be attached.”

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE

“Of course. So then what you would want for me to be able to stand on the top of my house and say anything about you and have it be accepted as fact? No man there has to be evidence seeking. I cannot just say I believe that you are a murder or that you are a thief  I have to bring evidence I can’t just say that or else we would fire everybody and suspend everybody. Every time somebody says something bad about anybody else then what ? You have to have proof, it’s easy for people to say things. In the house the standing orders provide that you must provide some sort of proof.  Do you have any evidence that any member of the house is guilty of that and if you have any evidence of any member of the house is guilty of that then whomever you vote for or whoever is your MP in the house ask them to table a motion if you have evidence.”

RENEE TRUJILLO

“But when your integrity is called into question does it mean that guilt has to be attached.”

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE

“Of course. So then what you would want for me to be able to stand on the top of my house and say anything about you and have it be accepted as fact? No man there has to be evidence seeking. I cannot just say I believe that you are a murder or that you are a thief  I have to bring evidence I can’t just say that or else we would fire everybody and suspend everybody. Every time somebody says something bad about anybody else then what ? You have to have proof, it’s easy for people to say things. In the house the standing orders provide that you must provide some sort of proof.

So, the only way the elected officials can be disciplined by the electorate is through the recall mechanism which is a tedious and frustrating process.  And while it is a law, it seems to work as merely a suggestion.  Here is how Peyrefitte explained it.

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE

“How in the world can I ask them to attend? They are entitled to be there, the only people who can prevent a member of the house from going into the house are the people who elected him or her. There is a mechanism, nobody in the house can remove a member from the house unless the person is absent for a certain amount of meetings or something like that.”

RENEE TRUJILLO

“We are trying to be educated here but it’s not the recall mechanisms merely a suggestion?”

MICHAEL PEYREFITTE

“No it’s not a suggestion it’s a law. So then you have to fulfill the mechanism of that law. If you don’t like the law put your name on a ballot run for office become Prime Minister and change the law.”