MPs Bang Desks for Michael Peart

Photo: FILE Outgoing Speaker of the House and Member of Parliament, Michael Peart, who presided over his last sitting of the House of Representatives on February 2.

Story Highlights

  • On February 2, the House of Representatives adjourned on a celebratory note with rousing applause and loud banging on desks as Speaker of the House, Michael Peart, exited the halls of Parliament for the final time in this capacity.
  • In response, Mr. Peart thanked the members for their kind words. “This is a very special moment for me when I say goodbye,” he said.
  • An avid sportsman, Mr. Peart was the founder of the Park Rangers Football Club, President of the Manchester Football Association and as Manchester’s representative to the Jamaica Football Federation.

On February  2, the House of Representatives adjourned on a celebratory note with rousing applause and loud banging on desks as Speaker of the House, Michael Peart, exited the halls of Parliament for the final time in this capacity.

This exuberant showing was in acknowledgement of Mr. Peart’s 22 years of stellar service to his country.

A Member of Parliament (MP) for South Manchester since 1993, Mr. Peart has presided over the House of Representatives for 13 of those years. This final sitting symbolised the 68 year-old politician’s retirement from representational politics.

Reminiscent of the high level of respect both sides of the House have for Mr. Peart, members paid tribute to him with words and voices filled with emotion and sincerity.

Leading the tributes, Leader of Government Business in the House, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said Mr. Peart has served Parliament “with tremendous distinction, decor (and) appropriateness.”

“You have been even-handed in your discharge of your function as Speaker of this House,” he said.

“The people of Southern Manchester know that in you, they had an effective steward, an effective representative of themselves. And even though you could not participate in the “cut and thrust,” we are aware through their return of you to this Parliament, time and time again, that they had tremendous confidence in you,” he added.

Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, pointed out that Mr. Peart demitting  his seat, will represent the first time in two generations that a Peart will not be in the Parliament of Jamaica.

“You are representative of one of the great political dynasties of Jamaican politics with a Peart having sat in the House of Parliament through five decades almost – your sibling and your father,” he said.

Mr. Peart’s father, Ernest Peart, served as MP for Western Manchester from 1959 to 1976 and North West Manchester from 1976 to 1980.

The Speaker’s brother, Dean Peart, served as MP for North West Manchester from 1989 to 2011.

Dr. Phillips noted that his years of service to South Manchester, to the Parliament of Jamaica, in the Ministry of Finance, to the People’s National Party, and to the people of Jamaica “will be indelibly recorded in the history of this land.”

Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, described Mr. Peart as an “excellent Speaker,” who acted “in a most impartial way” in the administration of his duties.

“You’ve had a good stint and on behalf of this side of the House, we would like to extend to you, our greatest appreciation,” he said.

In response, Mr. Peart thanked the members for their kind words. “This is a very special moment for me when I say goodbye,” he said.

He thanked Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller for “laying her hands on me” to serve as Speaker of the House, a duty he has thoroughly enjoyed.

“This sometimes raucous Parliament was a source of energy for me. Most of my time in the Parliament, I’ve enjoyed myself,” he said.

Speaking specifically about his decision-making duties, Mr. Peart said this was not a difficult task for him. He admitted that even though his decisions sometimes “went against the grain of one side or the other,” they were normally arrived at based on his understanding of the rules.

“In my modus operandi, the members appreciated me for being genuine in whatever decision I took. Sometimes I allowed members too much leeway, but we don’t want to have a boring Parliament…95 per cent of the time, we are doing good work,” he said.

Mr. Peart also promised that he will be back in Parliament “as a visitor and as an advisor.”

“I pledge my commitment to assist the new Speaker if he or she so desires my assistance, when the right time comes,” he said.

“Thank you all for making life interesting for me these past 22 years,” he concluded. As he left, Mr. Peart shook hands with members on both sides of the House.

Mr. Peart began his political career as a member of the PNP Youth Organisation and went on to become a member of the PNP’s National Executive Committee and Chairman of PNP Region 5.  He has been a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) International Executive Committee and served as Chairman of the CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region.

Prior to his involvement in representational politics, Mr. Peart worked as an Engineer with Alcan Jamaica Company and as an Electrical Engineering Consultant.  He has also served as Chairman of the Board of his alma mater, Manchester High School.

An avid sportsman, Mr. Peart was the founder of the Park Rangers Football Club, President of the Manchester Football Association and as Manchester’s representative to the Jamaica Football Federation.

The House of Representatives was adjourned sine die. Parliament was  dissolved today (February 5), to make way for the country’s 17th general election to be held on February 25.

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