Yesterday's Senate Meeting ended in confusion over the motion presented by opposition senator Lisa Shoman. It was put to a vote where the President ruled that the "no's" had it - after six UDP senators had voted against the motion, while 3 opposition senators and three social partner senators voted "yes." That would be a 6 - 6 tie, but President Mark Pech used his vote to break the tie; he voted "no", making it 7 - 6 for the "no's." But Senator Lisa Shoman challenged him on the floor, she said he didn't have the authority to use his vote on such a motion. So did he or didn't he? We'll have the official perspective on that tonight, but we start with what actually happened at the Senate Meeting, which finished at 6:00. Here are some highlights from the debate on that motion:...

Karen Bodden, Opposition Senator
"....Some time ago heralding a warning that the HMS Belize was sinking. At that time I was given assurance that that was not the case, but here we are almost on the reef, so I warned you Mr. President, get your life jacket and keep it close to you because you definitely will need to use it soon."

Marconi Sosa, UDP Senator
"This motion to a great extent is like putting the horse before the cart; it's premature. Can't we wait for the auditor general's report who is investigating the occurrences, the activities, the processes and procedures in the Department of Immigration and Nationality."

Collet Montejo, Opposition Senator
"I am saying today categorically let the Senate do its work. Let it exercise its functions. I listen to many of your talk shows on Love FM and I always look up to you. I am saying to you today, if I were you I would recuse myself from voting in this motion,"

"The very same spirit in which we went after the Social Security investigation, we want to see that spirit exercise today."

Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business
"It is not that I am saying, as Leader of Government Business, I won't stand tall, that I won't allow the Senate to look. The Senate could be institute and conduct inquiries and investigations on any matter of public interest or importance, including inquiries and mismanagement of corruption of persons in the central government or public statutory bodies and it will."

"After getting the auditor general's report, you can send for anybody, convene a thing - you think I will stand here and say no. It says; its to receive and review and report on annual reports of the auditor general or other reports (this is not an annual report, this is another report), and to institute and conduct inquiries, investigations and hearings in relation thereto and that is the step that we await and that is when the Senate will spring into action, not now."

Lisa Shoman, Opposition Senator
"My friends have made much of the auditor general and the auditor general's report and his functions or her responsibilities and not one word of what they said is untrue in terms of responsibility, function and law. I will tell you this Mr. President, the auditor general is not a horse and this is not the cart. The Senate is not the cart of the auditor generals' horse. Let us get that clear."

"If we do not set up this select committee, if we do not do our work, make our inquiries under the constitution, history will not absolve us. I ask Mr. President that the motion be put and I claim a division in this matter. Thank you Mr. President."

Eddie Webster, Clerk, National Assembly
"Senator Godwin Hulse "No", Senator Juliet Timbrell "No", Senator Joy Grant "No", Senator Charles Gibson "No", Senator Lisel Alamilla "No", Senator Jeraldo Sosa "No", Senator Lisa Shoman "Yes", Senator Karen Bodden "Yes", Senator Collett Montejo "Yes", Senator Mark Lizarraga "Yes", Senator Father Reverend Noel Leslie "Yes", Senator Ray Davis "Yes"

Lisa Shoman, Opposition Senator
"On a point the president doesn't have a casting vote in this order, I refer to the constitution he shall not have a vote when the Senate is deciding on any matter referred to in section sixty-one A2D of this constitution. I am sorry Mr. President but you don't have a vote in this matter."

Mark Pech, President of the Senate
"This is the outcome. Six senators in favor and seven against so I think the no's have it."

Lisa Shoman
"No Mr. President you don't have a casting vote, it is six, six. There may be a deadlock but under the constitution of Belize you don't have a casting vote with all due respect."

Mark Pech
"I recognize the leader of government business."

Godwin Hulse, Senator of Government Business
"Mr. President I move that the senate now do adjourn."

Mark Pech
"Honorable members the question is that the senate is now adjourned, all in favor say I "I", those not in favor say no "No". I think the "I" have it."

As you saw, leader of Government Business Godwin Hulse moved the adjournment and that's where the meeting ended amidst grumbling from the opposition side. Today he granted us an interview where he told us he so moved because he was clear that the matter had been correctly decided based on 62 - 2 of the Belize Constitution:..

Senator Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business
"The constitution is clear; is says where there are 12 senators, if a person is elected from outside the Senate, meaning not from one of those 12, he or she becomes a senator and it goes on to say that in any tie that person has a casting vote."

"The section that she uses to bring the motion is 61A2D; the constitution says when you are referring to that section if the president is a senator he has an original vote because all senators have an original vote. If he is not a senator, in other words, since the president is a senator because ir is clear that he is, he has an original vote. Therefore the 6 government senators plus his vote makes 7. I see no confusion at all."

Jules Vasquez
"She insist that it was a 6-6 tie and that she is willing to go to court if necessary to challenge the final record at the National Assembly. She is an attorney, she should know."

Senator Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business
"My response to that is - that is the beautiful thing of our democracy. The Supreme Court is charged with interpreting the constitution. that is the rightful place to go if anybody is aggrieved and she is aggrieved of a decision, she can take it to court."

We should note that there are differing interpretations of the section which does include some ambiguity - and indeed, the matter may end up going to court. But even if it does, it would be just for the record, because even with a tied vote, the motion fails and, as they say, falls to the floor.

But, Hulse says it doesn't have to stay there. As you heard, he wants the Auditor General to finish up her investigation first and after that, he says it's a new ball game:..

Senator Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business
"Why would the Senate institute inquiries etc., which is before the Auditor General. What will it do? Will it go in there on its own and start to dig together? The Auditor General will say that he has all the files and I am not letting them go now because this is my legal constitutional remit and also under the finance and audit act section 12-1 and I have so notified the department and I am in there, leave me alone to do my work. That's what would happen."

"I don't want people out there to say that 'oh this Senator don't want his department to be investigated.' The Financial Intelligence Unit is in there, I don't know who they are and I couldn't tell you the name of any police officer in there. I couldn't tell you who they spoke with and I don't care."

Jules Vasquez
"When the Auditor General's report is done and the findings are known - were the opposition then to bring forth a notion to say that based on the findings of the Auditor General, let us commence an inquiry. You would support the opposition?"

Senator Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business
"I wouldn't have any choice. The law is clear, it's says that once that report is laid before the table then the Senate has the power to received it, to review it and to report on it and to send for people and that would be the whole Senate. I don't have any problem with that. What problem would I have with that?"

Jules Vasquez
"Is this your position or is it the position of the government? Because I am saying that while the Auditor General's report is what it is, to actually drag people out for public hearings might be embarrassing for the government because some elected officials might be in the mix, could well be."

Senator Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business
"From where this senator sits, let the chips fall where they are and I am absolutely 100% supportive that I am sure that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will have to support that view."

We had an extended interview with Minister Hulse about all things Immigration and will have the rest of it tomorrow night.

Channel 7