Speaker Valerie Woods Discusses Her Role Amid Accusations of Bias
Speaker of the House, Valerie Woods – she is most times seen refereeing the elected representatives during House Meetings. Yesterday, she made an appearance on The Morning Show where she spoke on her role as the speaker. Her discussion on her role comes at a timely manner as she was recently accused, by the Leader of the Opposition, of being unfair and bias.
Valerie Woods, Speaker of the House of Representatives: “In Belize the practice is you stand on your feet and normally the members would sit. When that doesn’t occur and you remain standing, one can say it’s a bit of a contempt of the House. There’s a thing called parliamentary decorum. I think I once interviewed Mr. Charles Hyde as part of the effort in the first year after we were elected in these roles and I interviewed him as well as other surviving members that I could have reached regarding the 1981 Constitution. And we have that snippet, that video snippet on the website. And one of the best advice Mr. Charles Hyde, who presided I think over one of the most important terms in legislative history which was the whole 1981 debate. One of the best advice he gave was, “You know, neither side are gonna like you. And that’s a very good position to have.” And I take his advice with respect and with humility. What he has also said to me when I met with him was, “They can go low, you know. They could get in that dogfight if you will, but you don’t.” So it does take constraint on my part for me not to react but to use the rules and to do my best to ensure that I am not limiting freedom of speech, but at the same time you can debate while respecting the standing orders. Keep in mind also, we are in 2023, where everything is virtual and real time. This is not 1966 to 1981 where you will get a piece of it on a newscast by radio or if you happen to physically be in the chambers, right, whether the Senate or the House. So there’s a responsibility to ensure that you are not contravening the very orders that you’re asking members to abide by and that you’re setting an example.”