Sixty Two of the 63 Members of Parliament (MPs) who won their seats in the General Election on December 29, 2011, were sworn in today (January 17), at the opening of the new session of Parliament, at Gordon House.
Absent was Member of Parliament for Southern Trelawny, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert.
During the ceremony, Member of Parliament for South Manchester, Michael Peart, was chosen as Speaker of the House of Representatives, while MP for Central St. James, Lloyd B. Smith, will serve as Deputy Speaker of the Lower House.
Member of Parliament for East Kingston and Port Royal, Phillip Paulwell, is the new Leader of Government Business in the Lower House, with Member of Parliament for North East St. Andrew, Delroy Chuck, serving as Leader of Opposition Business.
Meanwhile, 20 members of the 21-member Senate were sworn in. Reverend Stanley Redwood was elected President of the Senate, while Senator Angela Brown Burke will serve as his Deputy. The Opposition Leader, Hon. Andrew Holness, is yet to appoint an eighth Senator, having named seven on January 16.
Senator A.J. Nicholson is the new Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, while Senator Arthur Williams will serve as Leader of Opposition Business.
In her remarks, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, said her administration is committed to accountability and responsibility.
"We commit to serve with humility and dedication to the principles of fairness, justice and equity. We will apply ourselves with diligence in tackling the challenges confronting us for the good of all people. We will uphold the laws of the land and conduct ourselves and the people’s business with integrity, sensitivity and sincerity," Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
She also welcomed and extended congratulations to all the elected Members of Parliament, especially those on both sides of the political divide who are in the Lower House for the first time.
For his part, Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, congratulated all the elected Members of Parliament and Senators.
"I want to congratulate all who earned the confidence of the people to be elected. I am sure that all of us who were elected know that we are here not for titles, not for privilege, not for our own public exposure or benefit. We are elected to serve the people of the country faithfully, diligently, with pride and respect," Mr. Holness said.
"We will rabidly seek out the welfare and benefit of the people of Jamaica," he added, while noting that the Opposition accepts the wish of the people for the party to be the team that gives oversight to the government of Jamaica.
In the meantime, the President of the Senate pledged to serve with dedication and to apply himself to the tasks ahead.
"We will maintain a high standard of decorum and we will serve respectfully, so that our children and our associates will be proud of us. We promise to serve humbly, recognising that we are servants of the people and we will serve on behalf of all the people of Jamaica. This office is not about us, we are just God’s temporary instruments in the service of a higher cause. We are servant leaders and we will be guided by this principle,” Reverend Redwood said.
The Speaker of the House also called on all Members of Parliament to support him in making the new session, "something to be proud of by the people of Jamaica."
"Let us hope that this Parliament will be a better Parliament from here on. I wish to express my appreciation to Mrs. Simpson Miller and members of this House for electing me to be Speaker of the House of Representatives and this has come at a critical time in the history of our country," Mr. Peart said.
Specially invited guests, such as members of the Diplomatic Corps as well as family members and well wishers also turned out in their numbers to observe the proceedings.