Evolution of the Parliamentary System

historyBefore the colonial period, Sri Lanka was a Monarchy. Thereafter administrative and governmental reforms were introduced under the Portuguese, Dutch and British rulers. Firstly the maritime Dutch territories and subsequently the Kandyan Kingdom came under the British rule in 1815. According to the recommendations of the Colebrook-Cameron commission, the Executive Council and the Legislative Council- the first legislative bodies of colonial Ceylon - were set up by the Governor, Sir Robert Horton, in 1833.

The Executive Council and the Legislative Council met in the building opposite the picturesque Gorden Gardens, now occupied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, until it was shifted to the old Parliamentary Building fronting the ocean at Galle Face. This building was declared open on January 29, 1930 by the then Governor Sir Herbert Stanley and housed the legislature till it was shifted to the new Parliamentary Complex at Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte in April 1982.

The Westminster model was introduced by the Soulbury Commission in 1944. The Parliament consisted of the Queen (represented by the Governor - General) and two Houses, namely the Senate and the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives consisted of 101 Members and the Senate consisted of 30 Members, of whom 15 were elected by the House of Representatives and 15 nominated by the Governor - General. The Senate was abolished on 2nd October 1971. Consequent to constitutional reforms, the name of the legislature changed several times as follows:


The Legislative Council 1833-1931 - (49 Members)
The State Council 1931-1947 - (61 Members)
The House of Representatives 1947 - 1972 - (101 Members and 157 Members after 1960)
The National State Assembly 1972 - 1978 - (168 Members)
The Parliament 1978 - todate - (225 Members)

The construction of the New Parliament at Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, where the palace of the King Vikramabahu III's powerful Prime Minister Nissaka Alakesvara was situated, began in 1979 and was completed in 1982. Mr. Geoffrey Bawa of Edward Reid and Begg was accepted as the architect and a Japanese consortium of 2 Mitsui Companies were contracted for the construction of the new building complex.

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Last Updated on 11-09-2012

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