No-Confidence Motion Against Belizean Prime Minister Briceno Blocked by House Speaker
The Leader of the Opposition’s motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister John Briceno was shot down by the House Speaker yesterday. The Speaker, Valerie Woods, notified the opposition leader of her decision, and also explained this morning to the House on the basis of her decision.
Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House of Representatives: “It is incumbent upon me to inform members, as well as members of the public, why the proposed motion of no confidence, which was asked to be tabled at this House meeting, was not tabled. The reason for doing this during the announcement is to ensure that there is no misunderstanding on the determination that was made by the Chair. The Private Members’ Motion submitted by the Leader of Opposition, Member from Mesopotamia, infringed on Standing Order 38.5 in relation to the fifth recital of the motion by imputing improper motives in respect of a Minister and a Minister of State. The motion also made assertions of malfeasance against the Prime Minister, a civil wrong for which no court of law has made any such pronouncement. That was stated in the Ninth and Tenth Recitals. In addition, the substantive part of the private member’s motion sought to have debate on the lawfulness or otherwise of a matter that is the Portico Agreement, which is the subject matter of an existing claim before the High Court. It is a cardinal principle of our constitutional democracy that Parliament will not engage in a debate on a subject matter which is before the courts for determination. Erskine May, the authoritative text on Parliamentary Proceedings, the UK Parliament Online Edition at paragraph 20.11, explains, that no matter awaiting adjudication by a court of law, that is, matters sub judice, should be brought before the House. It further states that a notice of motion relating to matters sub judice should be withdrawn from the Order Paper and may be reinserted when the matter has been determined and that signatures may not be added to motions relating to matters which are subjudiced until the cases have been disposed of. This parliamentary rule finds support in Standing Order 38.2. This covers both the content of speech and the subject matter currently before the courts, which cannot be raised in a motion. The member was advised that in keeping with Standing Order 25-2A, based on the findings above, the No Confidence Motion 2023 will not be placed on the Order Paper for this House meeting as it contravenes the above-mentioned standing orders.”