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Ceylon Constitution

Volume 389: debated on Wednesday 26 May 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

In 1941 the following assurance was given to the Board of Ministers in Ceylon:

"His Majesty's Government have had under further consideration the question of constitutional reform in Ceylon. The urgency and importance of the reform of the Constitution are fully recognised by His Majesty's Government, but before making decisions upon the present proposals for reform, concerning which there has been so little unanimity, but which are of such importance to the well-being of Ceylon, His Majesty's Government would desire that the position should be further examined and made the subject of further consultation by means of a Commission or Conference. This cannot be arranged under war conditions, but the matter will be taken up with the least possible delay after the war."

After further consideration, His Majesty's Government have decided that it is in the general interest to give greater precision to the foregoing statement with the object of removing any doubts regarding His Majesty's Government's intentions. Accordingly, His Majesty's Government have asked the Governor to convey to the Board of Ministers the following message:

  • 1. "The post-war re-examination of the reform of the Ceylon Constitution, to which His Majesty's Government stands pledged, will be directed towards the grant to Ceylon by Order of His Majesty in Council, of full responsible Government under the Crown in all matters of internal civil administration.
  • 2. His Majesty's Government will retain control of the provision, construction, maintenance, security, staffing, manning and use of such defences, equipment, establishments and communications as His Majesty's Government may Seem necessary for the Naval, Military and Air security of the Commonwealth, including that of the Island, the cost thereof being shared between the two Governments in agreed proportions.
  • 3. Ceylon's relations with foreign countries and with other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations will be. subject to the control and direction of His t Majesty's Government.
  • 4. The Governor will be vested with such powers as will enable him, if necessary, to enact any direction of His Majesty's Government in regard to matters within the scope of paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Declaration; and his assent to local measures upon these matters will be subject to reference to His Majesty's Government.
  • 5. The present classes of reserved Bills in the Royal Instructions will be largely reduced under a new Constitution. Apart from measures affecting Defence and External Relations it is intended that these shall be restricted to classes of Bills which—
  • (a) Relate to the Royal Prerogative, the rights and property of His Majesty's subjects not residing in the Island, and the trade and shipping of any part of the Commonwealth:
  • (b) Have evoked serious opposition by any racial or religious community and which in the Governor's opinion are likely to involve oppression or unfairness to any community:
  • (c) Relate to currency.
  • 6. The limitations contained in the preceding paragraph will not be deemed to prevent the Governor from assenting in the King's name to any measure relating to, and conforming with, any trade agreements concluded with the approval of His Majesty's Government by Ceylon with other parts of the Commonwealth. It is the desire of His Majesty's Government that the Island's commercial relations should be settled by the conclusion of agreements, and His Majesty's Government will be pleased to assist in any negotiations with this object.
  • 7. The framing of a Constitution in accordance with the terms of this Declaration will require such examination of detail and such precision of definition as cannot be brought to bear so long as the whole of the energies of the service and other Departments of His Majesty's Government must remain focussed on the successful prosecution of the war. His Majesty's Government will, however, once victory is achieved, proceed to examine by suitable Commission or Conference such detailed proposals as the Ministers may in the meantime have been able to formulate in the way of a complete constitutional scheme, subject to the clear understanding that acceptance by His Majesty's Government of any proposals will depend—
  • First, upon His Majesty's Government being satisfied that they are in full compliance with the preceding portions of this Statement; and

    Secondly, upon their subsequent approval by three-quarters of all members of the State Council of Ceylon, excluding the officers of State and the Speaker or other presiding officer.

    8. In their consideration of this problem His Majesty's Government have very fully appreciated and valued the contribution which Ceylon has made and is making to the war effort of the British Commonwealth and the United Nations, and the co-operation which, under the leadership of the Board of Ministers and the State Council, has made this contribution effective."