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Ceylon (May Day Meetings)

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the reason why a May Day meeting was banned in Ceylon was because it was putting forward a resolution paying tribute to the Soviet Union, demanding a second front and a national Government for India; and why, on a further application being made, permission was given to hold the meeting providing the resolution contained only economic and not political demands?

No, Sir. No applications to hold May Day meetings were refused. Two applications were made. The agenda of the first included tributes to the Soviet Union and Red Army, and this application was approved by the Minister for Home Affairs. The second, from the Ceylon Trade Union Federation, was originally approved by the Controller of Labour under powers vested in him to approve meetings convened on purely labour matters in the belief that the meeting was of that character. When later, however, the agenda was found to include general political resolutions including resolutions similar to those in the first application, the Federation were advised that application for permission would have to be made to the Minister for Home Affairs. The Federation failed, however, to make its application to the Minister.

Are we to take it from that answer that there is a prohibition actually operating against political demonstrations in Ceylon?

Application has to be made in these cases. When an application was made it was granted, and I have no doubt that if the Federation had made application, that would have been granted too.