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Mr Speaker, 153 years ago, on this date — October 23, 1865 — George William Gordon, member of the House of Assembly and the man in whose honour this Honourable House has been named, was hanged. The following day — October 24 1865 — Paul Bogle, Baptist Deacon, the man who led the war in which George William Gordon was implicated, was also hanged. Today, a grateful nation recalls with a mixture of pride and humility the fierce determination and selfless dedication of these two Jamaicans.

Mr. Speaker, words penned by George William Gordon on the day before his execution in a letter to his dear wife Lucy, bear great significance: “It is… the will of my Heavenly Father that I should… suffer in obeying his command to relieve the poor and needy, to protect, so far as I was able, the oppressed”.

This, I believe, Mr. Speaker, sums up very well his own sense of the mission to which he was called by his Creator and committed as a politician. George William Gordon saw the role of the parliament as an instrument and agency of the voice of the poor and oppressed – a voice for justice, social upliftment and overall national development. This was in contrast to the perception of
the role of the House of Assembly by the British slave-owning establishment. Gordon was vociferous in his protestations and demanding of answers from the colonial powers, for which he suffered the ultimate sacrifice.

Mr. Speaker, Gordon’s mission is one which we ourselves must uphold as we continue in this Honourable House, to build upon the institutions of governance we have inherited, ensuring throughout that they work to the greater benefit of our people. Indeed, it is a tacit reminder of our cause to dedicate ourselves to the upliftment of the poor and needy, to protect and empower the vulnerable, and provide opportunities for sustainable prosperity for all our people. This we must do by ensuring that Parliament remains the agency of action for the creation of legislation and policy that enhance the

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