The House of Representatives met in its last session for 2013 today. On the agenda were two important bills and some minor house-cleaning issues. Now traditionally, this last meeting before Christmas is tame and almost nauseatingly jovial, with Christmas cheer, goodwill and bonhomie dominating the atmosphere in the House. But the sitting was anything but jovial. In fact, for the first time in recent memory, Police were called in to remove a member who was suspended by the Speaker. Tonight, we’ll have the highlights of those decidedly inauspicious moments, as well as the bills which were read and passed. We start with the last thing first. Mike Rudon was in the House and has the story.

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The House meeting came to a sudden and rather unexpected close at a little after two this afternoon. Perhaps the end could have been foretold after the first exchange between Speaker of the House Michael Peyrefitte and member for Cayo South Julius Espat. The two have maintained a tempestuous relationship at best.

Julius Espat, Member for Cayo South

Julius Espat

“Mr. Speaker I think it is time for us in Belize to stop playing politics. We have to change the system of governance.”

Michael Peyrefitte, Speaker of the House

“I have to ask you though member, give me an issue. You can’t be all over the place.”

Julius Espat

“It is good governance I am talking about.”

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte

“Yes, but then give me… the rules is it is a matter of urgent public importance.”

Julius Espat

“The issue is that we are not allocating our funds where they need to be allocated. The issue is that we don’t have proper governance that are looking out for the poor people of Belize. The issue is social justice Mister Speaker.”

Michael Peyrefitte

“So which one of those three that you just mentioned.”

Julius Espat

“It is all embodied in one.”

Michael Peyrefitte

“You are allowed only one; pick one. Pick one or member I will ask you to stop. Pick one.”

Julius Espat

“Mister Speaker, the people of Belize…”

Michael Peyrefitte

“The people of Belize would like their members to follow the standing orders in the House. Pick one, pick one member.”

Julius Espat

“Mister Speaker the people of Belize want their representatives to speak on their behalf.”

Michael Peyrefitte

“Why do you want to start a fight at the end of the day like this man?”

Julius Espat

“I’m not fighting Mister Speaker; it is that you are being fair.”

Espat asked for fairness, and got silence, which he took as consent and so moved gamely on.

Julius Espat

“The Prime Minister has two options and that is one, to make the honorable and correct decisions which is basically to follow his 2008 manifesto and give this nation the reform that is drastically needed. Or the second option, which is the practice of nepotism which leads to incompetence; to continue defend the illegal sale of passports; to continue with te disrespect of the social partners; to continue facilitating public funds to unelected U.D.P. political cronies; to continue to turn a blind eye on human trafficking which is being managed by members of his Cabinet.”

Perhaps the words ‘human trafficking’ tripped the red flag. That was all she wrote…as the fat lady sang long and loud.

Michael Peyrefitte

“Member, listen I’ve made a decision. I want you to end your speech now. Under the standing orders, I ask of you to end your speech now. Member that was the last straw about human trafficking by…member I officially suspend this member for the rest of the day’s sitting. I give you five minutes to leave, sir.”

And the rest is history…which will be added to the chronicles of the many House meetings which in truth have degenerated into not much more than name-calling, heckling, jeering, insults and patent politicking.

{Nat sounds…back and forth across sides…}

Eventually Espat and the Opposition members walked out of the House with Police waiting in the wings. If nothing else, it provided some comic relief for the members for Queen Square and Orange Walk North. And the House was then adjourned.

Julius Espat

“It was clear in there that the government does not want true discussion; it does not want people to speak the truth. I was not offending anybody; I was just expressing what my people want me to express. And if that is so erroneous that is why I am saying that the system has to change. The system has to change so that the people that don’t have a voice an get a voice and that is what democracy is all about. The Speaker of House was erroneous. He is not an elected member. He is a failed U.D.P. aspirant. I am an elected member and I should be given the right to speak and I wasn’t offending nobody, I wasn’t insulting anybody and that is what you are seeing there.”

Espat says it’s nothing personal, since the Speaker is just doing his job, which is defending the government. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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