Parliamentary Year Begins With Much Fanfare


It was an occasion fit for a king, when the 2004/05 Parliamentary Year commenced at Gordon House on Duke Street today, with the Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Howard Cooke delivering the Throne Speech.
Dozens of wide-eyed children from nearby primary schools lined sections of Duke Street, gleefully craning their necks to get a glimpse of what must have appeared to them to be nothing short of royalty.
The air was charged with a sense of dignity and patriotism as the distinguished guests arrived. At approximately 10:30 a.m. Police Commissioner Francis Forbes arrived, heralded by the Second Battalion Jamaica Regiment band. He was followed by the Chief of Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin.
Members of the Senate then arrived and assumed their places in the chamber. Opposition members, led by Opposition Leader, Edward Seaga, were cheered as they filed into the House.
There was a pronounced stir of excitement and loud cheers by groups of party supporters when Prime Minister P.J. Patterson arrived to lead Government members into the Chamber.
At 10:50 a.m. Her Excellency Lady Cooke arrived and was escorted by Commissioner Forbes into the chamber, where the atmosphere was abuzz with expectation. On his arrival, Sir Howard inspected the Guard of Honour before being escorted into the House by Rear Admiral Lewin, where he read the Throne Speech, which outlined the priority programmes and policies to be pursued by the Government during the fiscal year.
The session was attended by members of the Diplomatic Corps, state officials, officers from the JDF and the Jamaica Constabulary Force, as well as business and public sector executives.
This afternoon, the House of Representatives convened its first official sitting for the new fiscal year, at which the 2004/05 Estimates of Expenditure were tabled.

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