A special Sitting of Parliament was held today (Oct 03rd) at 2.30 p.m. to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Parliamentary Democracy in Sri Lanka. At the commencement of Public Business, the Hon. Prime Minister and the Hon. Leader of the opposition in Parliament moved a Vote as follows;
“That this Parliament at its meeting today commemorates with pride the 70th anniversary of its first meeting as an independent Parliament and notes that Parliament of Sri Lanka is the oldest Parliament elected by universal adult franchise in the Asia region with an unbroken record of democratic governance and wishes for itself and the people of Sri Lanka a prosperity, development and further strengthening of democratic traditions, principles and rule of law.”
The speeches began with His Excellency the President and was followed with speeches by the Hon. Prime Minister, Hon. Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Leader of the House, Hon. Chief Government Whip, Hon. Chief Opposition Whip, and the Hon. Leaders of the recognized political parties in Parliament. The Hon. Speaker delivered the Vote of Thanks.
Hon. Speakers of the Parliaments of the SAARC countries who are in Sri Lanka to participate in the 8th conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians were present at the Speaker’s Gallery to witness the occasion.
The first Parliament in Sri Lanka, known as “House of Representatives”, met for the first time on the 14th of October 1947 at the State Council building (Old Parliament Building) in Colombo. It consisted of 101 Members, of which 95 were elected by universal suffrage and 6 were nominated by the Governor-General.
The general election was held for a period of 19 days from 23rd of August to the 20th of September 1947. The United National Party won 42 seats, thereby obtaining a majority and selecting Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake as the country’s first ever Prime Minister. The other political parties that won seats at the general election were, Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Bolshevik Leninist Party, Communist Party, Labour Party, All Ceylon Tamil Congress and the Ceylon Indian Congress. Twenty Independent candidates were elected as well. The Hon. Sir Francis Molamure, first Member for Balangoda, was elected as Speaker. Mr R. St. L. P. Deraniyagala, C.B.E was the Clerk to the House of Representatives.
The First Parliament of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was bicameral consisting of two chambers known as the Senate and the House of Representatives. It was established as per the proposals put forward by the Soulbury Commission and by way of a Ceylon (Constitution) Order in Council. This replaced the State Council of Ceylon which was established in 1931. The Senate was abolished in 1971 and the House of Representatives was replaced with the unicameral National State Assembly in 1972 when the first republican constitution was enacted. With the promulgation of the second republican constitution on 7th of September 1978, the First Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka superseded the Second National State Assembly.
The current Parliament is the 8th Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and the 17th overall. Since 1947, 14 MPs have held the office of Prime Minister, while 18 have been elected as Speaker of Parliament. There have been seven Secretaries-General of Parliament (previously known as Clerk to the House) to date.
Watch the day’s proceedings
First Sitting on October 14th 1947