Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring that while the Government has an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives, it will not ignore the views of the Opposition.
“It is my intention to continue in a spirit of cooperation and in building partnerships for a prosperous Jamaica. I am very seized of the magnitude of all the challenges we face, but I am very motivated and I am very optimistic of the energy, the skill, the thoughtfulness and the commitment of the team that is assembled, not just on my side of the House, but of the entire Parliament…to overcome these challenges,” he said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the swearing-in ceremony for Members of Parliament (MPs) during a sitting of the House at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Tuesday (September 15).
Mr. Holness reminded the newly sworn in members that being elected to serve in the House of Representatives, an MP’s first priority it to “look about Jamaica’s interest,” charging them to conduct their duties with the highest level of integrity, dignity and efficiency, especially as role models for young impressionable minds.
“We sit as the elected leaders of our constituencies and sometimes we want to narrow that role…to the function of securing responses from the Government, securing funding from the Government, but people actually look up to us as role models and often- times, in our conduct, we tend to forget that on Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ), when we are being broadcast, that there is a primary school child looking on their television screen searching for someone that they can model,” he said.
Mr. Holness reasoned that members can be sharp, “but we don’t have to be abrasive; we can be robust, but we don’t have to be disrespectful and rude,” contending that elevating their level of representation will engender greater engagement from the electorate among whom there has been noted dissonance which, he argued, is partly due to the conduct of MPs in Parliament.
“Today, it is a time for us to commit to doing the best we can as representatives of the people to ensure that we fulfil their aspirations. It is a time for us to commit to the dignity and efficiency of the public bureaucracy. It is a time for us as members to commit to the highest level of integrity in public affairs. It is a time for us to be optimistic and hopeful that in the midst of crisis, with great challenges, that Jamaica will overcome and recover stronger,” he emphasised.
The Prime Minister made special note of the greater representation of women in the House, which now has a record 18 females serving as MPs, specifically singling out the newly elected Speaker of the House, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, who will be serving in this capacity for the second time.
Mrs. Dalrymple-Philibert, who has taken over from the now retired Pearnel Charles Sr., said she is honoured and humbled by the Prime Minister’s vote of confidence in appointing her, and assured that the affairs of the House “will not fall short of the highest standards.”
“We must remember always that our contributions to this House must rest on the foundations of mutual respect for each other and selfless service to the people of our country. Members of this House, we are the leaders of this nation and as leaders we have the responsibility to lead by example. Our children, our young adults, our men and women…are expecting the highest standard of conduct from us. We will have order in this House,” she asserted.
In the meantime, Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, congratulated the Government “which has emerged from a hard-fought election.”
He also specially congratulated “all the women on both sides who have been elected. We trust that their greater level of sobriety will help restrain the excesses of some members.”
Notably, wife of the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness, has been appointed as Deputy Speaker of the House.
A total of 61 of the 63 MPs were sworn during the ceremony, which was preceded by the swearing in of Senators during the sitting of the Senate.
At the time of the ceremonies, there were magisterial recounts in the two other seats to decide the winners.
Since then, Mr. Daniel Lawrence, of the Jamaica Labour Party, was declared winner in Westmoreland Eastern constituency.