Chapter 3: The Ministers’ Draft

The Declaration of May 1943 stated that the Ministers’ proposals would be examined “once victory was achieved”. Mr Senanayake never intended to abide by the condition; and, true to his policy of making his intention plain, the Ministers said so in paragraph 9 of their interpretation.[1] What Mr Senanayake intended was to push on with the drafting as soon as possible to submit not merely “proposals in the way of a complete constitutional scheme” but a draft Constitution, and then to ask why it should not be brought into operation immediately.

There was much discussion as to the manner in which the Constitution should be drafted. The first suggestion was that there should be a committee consisting of the Chief Secretary, three Ministers, Mr L. M. D. de Silva, Sir Oliver Goonetilleke and me. It was however not easy to bring in the Chief Secretary nor to select two representative Ministers in addition to Mr Senanayake; and the Chief Secretary, who was consulted, agreed that it was impracticable. The next suggestion was that there should be a drafting committee consisting of Mr L. M. D. de Silva, Mr Mervyn Fonseka[2] and me. This seemed to be an admirable body. The initiative would probably come from Mr Senanayake through me, but the proposal would be thoroughly examined by the others and Mr Fonseka would do the drafting. Mr L. M. D. de Silva was not very anxious to be associated formally, though he offered to criticise anything put up. Mr Fonseka was very willing to help, but as Attorney–General he was responsible to the Legal Secretary, who apparently thought that he should be brought in formally or not at all. Mr Senanayake decided against associating the Officers of State. They were responsible to the Governor who would be at liberty, and perhaps in duty bound, to report to the Secretary of State what was going on. The final stage in the negotiations, however, would be a commission or conference at which the Ministers’ proposals would be examined. It would not be wise to keep the Officers of State, the Governor, and the Secretary of State informed of the divisions of opinion which were sure to arise among the Ministers. Accordingly, it was decided that the Ministers without the Officers of State should take all decisions, but that the Offices of State should be consulted from time to time on the more technical matters. Further, I should do the drafting under Mr Senanayake’s instructions and in consultation with Sir Oliver Goonetilleke. Mr Senanayake would then put the agreed drafts before the Ministers. Since I was at that time neither a draftsman nor a Ceylon lawyer the final draft would be sent to the Legal Secretary for formal drafting.

I began to draft early in June. On the 16th, when the storm was raging over the Ministers’ interpretation, I decided to stop. Two days later I came to the conclusion that it was a storm in a teacup which would subside, and I told Goonetilleke that I would continue drafting as a “academic exercise”. Goonetilleke informed Mr Senanayake who agreed that it might be worthwhile for me to carry on. By the 28th June I had completed the first draft.

My instructions were exiguous. Mr Senanayake was not at this stage very concerned with the details of the Constitution, because what he wanted was a Constitution which went as near Dominion status as the Declaration would allow and was framed in such a manner as to be capable of conversion into a Dominion Constitution as quickly and as simply as possible. On certain points it was however necessary to take preliminary decisions. These were as follows:–

  • On the franchise there was not much argument at this stage. Whatever the Ministers thought about the enfranchisement of Indians[3], they could not afford to start an argument with the Government of India. Accordingly it would probably be necessary to maintain the status quo. The Donoughmore Constitution did not deal with the franchise, which was governed by a separate election Order. That Order could remain in operation subject to the power of Parliament to amend it.
  • Nor was there argument about the need for Cabinet Government. The Declaration referred to “responsible government.”, and though this was probably a synonym for self–government and was not used in the technical sense as a Government responsible to Parliament, the Ministers were not disposed to take the risk. They had had experience of the executive committee system and did not like it. They had no experience of a presidential system but they did know how Cabinet Government worked.
  • The most difficult problem, though as it happened not the most contentious, was that of representation. In one respect my instructions were precise: there was not to be communal representation and all elected members were to represent territorial constituencies. When I asked if I was to give the Ceylon Tamils increased representation Mr Senanayake replied: “I don’t care if they’re all Tamils provided they are elected as Ceylonese”. He went on to explain that he did not mind how the various parts of the Island were represented provided that representation was based on a principle and that principle did not involve communal representation. He did not want a numerical formula like “fifty–fifty”, or “sixty–forty”, or anything of that kind, because everybody would haggle about it and it would be Communal haggling.

Lying in bed next morning I thought over this problem and ran rather idly over the precedents. In Great Britain in 1918 the unit had been one seat for 75,000 population, with some variation to prevent constituencies being too large in area. In Canada Quebec had been the unit, the other Provinces being represented in proportion to population, with a minimum for small Provinces. In Australia there had been a minimum for small States and also larger representation for country districts: there was something in that – one might under–weight the densely populated (mainly Sinhalese) areas on the west coast. In South Africa there had been weightage for sparsely–populated areas. What were the sparsely populated Provinces in Ceylon? North Central Province, Uva, Eastern Province, much of the Northern Province. At that point I shot out of bed: the sparsely populated Provinces were those in which the Ceylon Tamils, the Muslims, the Indians and the Kandyan Sinhalese were strong. Since I am a person of odd tastes the Ceylon Blue Book for 1938 was in my bedroom. After a little experimenting I found that if one seat was given for 75,000 inhabitants and one seat for 1000 square miles of area, there would be (on the 1931 census figures) 70 seats for population and 24 for area. I was disappointed with the Northern Province, which had 3 seats for area only; but it could get 4 seats if the Jaffna Lagoon was included. I worked out the details and showed them to Sir Oliver Goonetilleke that morning. He showed them to Mr Senanayake, who agreed that this scheme satisfied his requirements, but asked that the Jaffna Lagoon be included so as to give an extra seat to the Northern Province.

There was some delay in securing a directive about a second chamber. It was not a problem of first importance, but it was highly contentious. The terrifying ease with which the State Council had accepted all kinds of motions and the extraordinary laxity of its procedure for amending Bills made the case for bicameral government somewhat stronger than in most other countries, but the younger men had been convinced by reading Harold Laski[4] and others that a second chamber was a means for enabling the propertied class to obstruct popular legislation. There was too, a section of opinion which thought that there was a case for it if it was to provide communal representation but none if it was to be merely an older and wealthier replica of the first chamber.

Mr D. R. Wijewardene and the Ceylon Daily News had strong views on the subject and eventually Mr Senanayake, without pledging himself – for he wanted to do nothing to obstruct the attainment of self– government– requested me to draft a scheme. It seemed to me that South Africa provided the best, or least objectionable, model, and accordingly I produced the scheme published as Appendix[5]. It was never circulated in this form, for Mr Senanayake approved in principle and requested me to incorporate it in the draft Constitution.

It will be convenient to explain the subsequent developments. Though a vote was never taken, it appeared that the Ministers were divided by four to three. Since one member was vacillating, neither side had a real majority. This division of opinion was a good reason for postponing the issue, for it was essential that the Ministers should be agreed. There was, however, an even better reason. Since the Ministers were divided it was clear enough that the State Council would be divided. Some members would vote against a Constitution which contained a second chamber; some would vote against a Constitution which did not. If this was so, the three–quarters majority stipulated by the Declaration was unattainable.  To this dilemma I supplied the solution.  The draft provided that the Constitution should be amendable by two–thirds majority: why not let the new legislature provide a second chamber by simple majority? This solution would, incidentally, provide a non–communal issue for first general election; what was more important, both those who wanted a second chamber and those who did not could vote for the Ministers’ Draft.

It was therefore amusing to find that the Governor, in acknowledging acceptance of the Ministers’ Draft in February 1944, complained that the Draft was incomplete because it did not provide for a second chamber but left the question to be decided by the first legislature. Sir Robert Drayton, I knew, felt strongly on the subject. He went so far as to tell me, in such a manner that I knew I was to inform Mr Senanayake, that the Draft might be rejected because it did not provide a second chamber. I did not pass on Mr Senanayake’s reply, that Sir Robert Drayton himself had prevented them from getting a second chamber because he had insisted on a three–quarters majority.

 

It was even more amusing to be told by Goonetilleke that Sir Geoffrey Layton had cursed “that fellow Jennings”, who was “a bit of a bolshy” and persuaded the Minister not to have a second chamber.  The first of my drafts to be circulated to the Ministers contained complete provisions for a second chamber, and they were struck out by the Secretary to the Board of Ministers in accordance with a decision of the Ministers.

Except on these four matters of great importance I had no instructions.  I had however discussed with Sir Oliver Goonetilleke two other questions, whether this opportunity ought not to be taken of converting the Departments into Ministries, and whether financial procedure should not be reformed.  He agreed that both should be done.

Under the colonial system, administration was vested in Heads of Departments responsible through the Colonial Secretary to the Governor. The Donoughmore Commission wished to destroy the bottleneck at the Secretariat but retained the separate Heads of Departments, who became responsible to the respective Officers of State and executive committees. In other words there was no coordination even among related Departments except at the political level – which of course meant that there was usually no coordination at all. What is more, the Heads of Departments, instead of being concerned with policy and its execution, had to spend most of their time on matters which ought to have been left to establishment officers and the finance branch. It was thought to be necessary to fuse the Departments into Ministries and to this end to have Permanent Secretaries appointed. In the end, however, all that was left in the Constitution on this point was the provision for Permanent Secretaries.

Though the State Councillors were always very pleased with their financial procedure, it seemed to be defective. The Estimates were compiled by Heads of Departments, approved or otherwise by Officers of State and executive committees, and pruned by the Board of Ministers. There was no effective pruning in the Treasury because, being under a mere Officer of State, it had no authority. These Estimates were divided into a multitude of heads and sub–heads, each of which was voted separately and separately accounted for. The Treasury had no power to transfer even between sub–heads, with the result that a supplementary estimate had to be introduced even if a sub–head was increased by Rs. 100 and even if there were large savings on other sub–heads in the same vote. This caused a huge mass of supplementary votes and broke down the theory that the Budget was a reasonably accurate forecast. Sometimes, in fact, the supplementary votes were 20 or 25 per cent of the original votes.

In consultation with Goonetilleke I drafted a series of detailed provisions on these and other financial matters. At an early stage Mr H. J. Huxham[6], the Financial Secretary, asked Mr Senanayake’s permission to discuss these matters with me, and at his suggestion some amendments and additions were made. Later however the Ministers decided that only provisions of the type usually inserted in Dominion Constitutions should be included, and so a great deal of the detail were cut out. Also when Goonetilleke went to London while the Soulbury Constitution was being drafted he consulted Mr E. A. Fellowes, Second Clerk Assistant to the House of Commons.[7]  Mr Fellowes made a number of valuable suggestions which considerably improved the draft, and most of the matter provided by the original draft is now included in Financial Regulations.

Finally, I was given a general but necessarily vague instruction to do everything possible to meet the fears expressed by minorities, but not to provide for communal representation. To carry out this mandate I inserted a clause against discriminatory legislation, provided for independent Public Service, Judicial Service and Delimitation Commissions gave some powers to the Governor to exercise” in his discretion”, and required a two–thirds majority for constitutional amendments. On none of these points was there any argument, whether on the part of Mr Senanayake or on the part of other Ministers. The story propagated in a section of the press that the opportunity was being used to secure “Sinhalese domination” was completely false. Naturally it was necessary to produce a draft which would prove acceptable to the Board of Ministers six of whom were Sinhalese and one Tamil, and at a later stage by as many as possible of the 39 Sinhalese State Councillors, but the final scheme had to be approved by at least 43 members of the State Council. All the provisions in which the minorities were specially interested, including those dealing with representation, were suggested by me and appeared in the final draft almost as I had recommended them. The Ministers were not in the least interested in “Sinhalese domination”; they were concerned with the utmost power into Ceylonese hands.  As Sir Robert Drayton put it to me after one of the meetings of the Board “they know that if they quarrel among themselves as to who is to get the swag there won’t be any swag”.

As is mentioned above, my draft was ready by the 28th June, and I showed it to Sir Barclay Nihill that evening in case he had suggestions to offer. He had none but remarked that it would “give the Ministers something to think about”. I touched it up during the next few days and produced a revised draft on the 4th July. This was actually the third draft, for the first had been a very rough sketch which nobody else ever saw. I explained the third draft to Sir Oliver Goonetilleke on the 4th July and left it with him. He waited until Mr Senanayake had completed the Budget and then discussed it with him in detail.

Mr Senanayake agreed with my suggestion that Mr L. M. D. de Silva and Mr Mervyn Fonseka should be consulted. Fonseka’s position was difficult. It was not clear at this stage whether the Constitution was to be drafted by the Board of Ministers or by the Ceylonese Ministers. My impression is that Sir Robert Drayton had originally expected that the Board of Ministers would take the decisions while the drafting would be done by the Legal Secretary’s office. The conversion of “the Breakdown Gang” into a Reforms Department upset this idea. It meant that there would be proposals submitted and decisions taken on which Drayton and Nihill would have subsequently to advise the Secretary of State. Both the Officers of State and the Ministers felt that the position was anomalous, and eventually it was agreed that the Ministers should sit alone, consulting the Officers of State from time to time, and further that in giving advice the Officers of State would be acting in their personal capacities not as persons responsible to the Governor.

The Board of Ministers discussed the procedure at its meeting on the 9th August. Mr Senanayake mentioned that I had produced a draft which had been placed in the hands of Mr Mervyn Fonseka and another lawyer (Mr L. M. D. de Silva) and it was hoped to produce an agreed draft which would thus be technically sound. There was no decision at this meeting, but the procedure was settled at a meeting of the Ceylonese Ministers on the 27th September, when a general but very discursive discussion took place about the proposed Constitution. Mr George E. de Silva[8], Minister for Health and president of the Ceylon National Congress[9], mentioned that a draft Constitution for a free Lanka[10] had been prepared for the congress, and it was agreed that it should be circulated at the same time as my draft.

On the 28th September I received through Sir Oliver Goonetilleke a careful analysis of my draft by Mr L. M. D. de Silva, and on the 29th Mr Fonseka sent a long memorandum. I examined these very carefully and produced a series of notes which Mr Senanayake, Sir Oliver Goonetilleke and I discussed for a couple of hours late on the night of the 30th. It became apparent that no very considerable alterations were necessary, and I undertook to make revisions in detail before the draft was circulated to the Ministers. More important was Mr Senanayake’s statement about the discussion at the meeting of Ministers. He felt that it was necessary to put both a second chamber and an alteration of the franchise into the draft. I then produced my draft for a Senate and it was agreed that it be incorporated into the main draft.    On the question of the franchise a separate Order in Council, because if the franchise was put into the draft Constitution and there was trouble with India the whole thing would get delayed, whereas if there were two Orders the proceedings on the Constitution could continue while the argument over the franchise was being settled.

Since the problem of the franchise became very controversial later, it may be convenient at this point to explain Mr Senanayake’s point of view. He thought that, on the whole, the introduction of Indian labour by the coffee planters and later by the tea and rubber planters had been inimical to the long–term interests of Ceylon. Though it has expanded the revenues of the country and enables services to be provided, it had deprived the Kandyan peasantry of their chenas[11] and their room for expansion. The rigid family system and caste system of the Indian always make an Indian migration different from, let us say, the European migration to North America after the early British settlements.  A German or a Czech migrating to North America becomes “American” within a few years. He speaks English and adopts the American way of life. His children grow up as “one hundred per cent American” and marry Americans. An Indian family, on the other hand, remains Indian for generations if not for centuries. The Ceylonese have much the same family and caste system. It is rather less rigid than the Indian, but the Ceylonese cannot absorb the Indians or the Indians absorb the Ceylonese. The Indian migration therefore created a new communal problem, which made the problem of representation particularly difficult, because a Sinhalese could not be represented by an Indian nor an Indian be represented by a Sinhalese.

Moreover, the Indian Tamils, unlike the Ceylon Tamils, did not occupy a specific area, which could be represented by Indians. Most of them lived on estates which were pockets in Kandyan territory. If a constituency had a majority of Indians it would be represented by Indians and the Sinhalese would be disfranchised. If it had a minority of Indians they could decide which Sinhalese should be elected. In 1947 they voted almost solidly for communists, with the result that some 13 or 14 communists were elected for seats which they might not have captured with Ceylonese votes alone.

The franchise of 1931 was based upon domicile though an Indian could also get the vote by taking out a “certificate of permanent settlement”. The Indians were, however, highly organized in a communal body, the Ceylon Indian Congress, which had close relations with the Government of India. Acting on the advice of this body, the Indians did not take out certificates of permanent settlement in large numbers; and in fact, the superintendents of estates, who compiled the lists, put down most of the Indian labourers as domiciled. The result was that many Indians were enfranchised in 1931 and subsequently who were not permanent settlers but were temporary migrants. In 1940 Sir Robert Drayton as Legal Secretary began the process of weeding the registers, and this led to discussions with the Government of India.

Discussions in India produced no agreement, but in 1941 Sir Girja Bajpai[12] who led a delegation which met a Ceylon delegation in Colombo, of which Mr Senanayake was the most influential member. Some of the extremists wanted all the Indians removed, and therefore considered that none of them should be enfranchised. Mr Senanayake was not an extremist, and he appreciated that those who have become permanent residents of Ceylon ought to be given the franchise, though there should be no more mass immigration and nobody would be given the franchise unless he was already a permanent resident in 1941. On these lines a compromise agreement was reached between the two delegations.

What Mr Senanayake proposed in 1943 was to put the Bajpai–Senanayake agreement into law. He might even have been willing to allow any Indian whose name was on the register in 1943 to continue to exercise the franchise. I had in fact drafted franchise clauses on those lines though they had not been approved by Mr Senanayake or circulated to the Ministers. Unfortunately the Government of India thought fit to step in. The Indian Representative informed the Governor that the Ministers were not to assume that the Bajpai–Senanayake agreement was acceptable to the Government of India. Mr Senanayake’s essential aim was to get self–government from the United Kingdom. He feared that if the Ministers’ draft contained franchise provisions the Government of India would oppose it in London. It was therefore decided to leave the franchise of 1931 unchanged, but to empower the Ceylon Parliament to deal with the problem after self–government was attained.

When the question was taken up in 1948 the problem was not to give the franchise only but to confer citizenship.  I had no hand in the legislation of 1948 and 1949 [13]; but obviously what the Ceylon Parliament did was to put the compromise of 1941 into law with some amendments [unclear], without any transitional provisions allowing existing voters to remain on the registers.  The explanation was, no doubt, that the Ceylon Indian Congress had used its block vote in 1947 to try and overthrow the Ceylon Constitution as by law established.  The Indians would probably have got better terms in 1943 if the Government of India had not butted in.

Mr Senanayake was anxious that the complete draft be circulated to the Ministers on the 2nd October so that they would have ample time for its consideration before their meeting on the 11th October. This fourth draft was the third draft including amendments suggested by examination of the memorandum prepared by Messrs L. M. D. de Silva and Mervyn Fonseka and adding provisions relating to the Senate.

Mr Senanayake decided that it was desirable as a matter of courtesy to let the Governor have a copy “off the record”. Courtesy apart, if Sir Andrew Caldecott found in it anything inconsistent with the Declaration of May 1943 he might find it convenient to point out the discrepancy informally and so avoid difficulty when the draft was considered by the commission or conference. Actually, Sir Andrew expressed high appreciation of it. No conclusion can be drawn from this, for I do not believe that anybody in “the Governor’s Government” or the Colonial Office had analysed carefully what the conditions of the Declaration really meant. It is, however, significant that Sir Andrew expressed pleasure at finding provisions for a second chamber.

When the Ministers met on the 11th October they had before them the fourth draft, the Congress draft, and a note by Mr S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike on the problem of the second chamber. The Congress draft was a mere skeleton in which the more controversial questions were disposed of by blanks, presumably because no decisions had been taken. There was a careful formulation of fundamental rights, somewhat on the Irish style[14] but, as I thought, inappropriate for Ceylon.  The draft was put aside and never brought up again.

Mr Bandaranaike’s note was a more serious contribution. It quoted the Bryce Report[15] and gave the composition of a considerable number of second chambers. Mr Bandaranaike’s     contention was that in Ceylon a second chamber could be intended only for one or both of two reasons, to give minority representation or to impose legislative checks; and both problems might be solved in a single chamber. However, the Ministers decided to leave the whole question of representation, including that of a second chamber, for further discussion, and to examine in detail the more technical parts of the draft. A number of amendments was made, some drafted by Mr D. C. R. Gunawardena[16], the Secretary to the Board of Ministers, and some by me. The whole was then retyped, the provisions relating to representation and the second chamber being omitted, and circulated in what may be called the fifth draft to the whole Board of Ministers, including the Officers of State, for consideration at a meeting on the 10th November.

Except that Sir Barclay Nihill had seen my second draft, this was the first time that the Officers of State had been consulted. They were naturally surprised to receive a document which contained nothing about franchise, representation or a second chamber. Sir Robert Drayton therefore asked Mr Senanayake if he had any objection to their discussing the draft with me informally. There was, of course, no objection, and I had a conference with Drayton and Nihill in the latter’s room at the Galle Face Hotel. It was not very fruitful, for I did not feel at liberty to discuss the omitted matters. Nevertheless, I was able to give them a sufficiently clear idea to enable them to take part in discussions with the Ministers on the 10th, 19th and 23rd November, when numerous minor amendments were made. Fundamentally, however, the truncated Constitution remained unaltered, the most important amendments relating to financial matters and the appointment of public and judicial officers.

On the 7th December the Ministers – this time meeting without the Officers of State– had a discussion about representation and the second chamber. There had previously been unofficial attempts, in which Messrs Bandaranaike and Mahadeva[17] had taken part, to secure agreement among the leading members of the State Council. There had been much debate over “sixty–forty”, “fifty–five– forty–five” and so on, which had led nowhere. Talking with Sir Oliver Goonetilleke while this was going on, I pointed out that the draft scheme would probably produce something like “sixty–forty”. He suggested that I work this out and I did so, my calculations giving the minorities a minimum of 35 and a maximum of 45. This was over–optimistic because I worked on the population figures of the Provinces. In some Provinces the minorities are so scattered that the Delimitation Commission could not give them representation. Also, the Indian vote much smaller than the number of adult Indian residents counted in 1921. My analysis was shown to Mr Senanayake but was not circulated to the Ministers. The figures produced to the Soulbury Commission and referred to in the Report were not mine and were not produced by the Ministers. The number of minority members in the first House was in fact 33.

What the Ministers decided on the 7th December was to invite the minority members (including the Kandyans) to discuss with the Ministers, in six groups, any proposals which they might wish to make with respect to the future Constitution of the Island. It was known to the minority members that the Ministers were considering a draft, but the security precautions had been sufficiently good to prevent any hint of its contents leaking out. Nine of the minority members therefore asked to be supplied with a copy of the draft. What the minority members did not know was that the draft then under discussion, the fifth draft, contained nothing relating to the franchise, representation or the second chamber. In other words, it contained nothing on the subject–matter of the proposed talks. Thus the Ministers were quite honest in their invitation. They wished to discuss with the minority members questions which they had not decided even tentatively. Possibly the Ministers might have explained this, but they did not, and accordingly their invitation was refused.

It was at this stage, too, that the Government of India showed that it was interested. The Indian Representative in Ceylon, Mr Aney[18], called on the Governor on the instructions of his Government and informed him that in the opinion of that Government the Joint Report on Indo–Ceylon Relations of September, 1941, should not afford any guidance for determining the status of Indians in Ceylon. This showed the danger of tampering with the franchise and was a material factor in the decision to leave the franchise as it stood.

On the 4th January 1944 the Ministers came at last to the fundamental problems, and they were quickly disposed of. It was agreed that the franchise should not be altered and that the scheme of weighted representation should be inserted. It was however agreed that if a 75 per cent majority could not be obtained a motion should be moved for the whole question of representation to be handed over to the Delimitation Commission. If a 75 per cent majority could not be obtained for that resolution, then the whole problem of representation should be handed over to His Majesty’s Government for decision. Mr A. Mahadeva dissented on the question of representation and considered that the question should be decided by the Royal Commission.

After this decision I produced a revised draft, the sixth, which was discussed at meetings of the Ministers on the 11th and 12th January. Mr D. C. R. Gunawardena and I had a conference on the amendments then made, and I produced a seventh draft. This was circulated to the Officers of State for their observations. They replied within a few days and I summarised their views, using their own words where necessary, in a memorandum. It was emphasised that their opinions were personal and secret, and I do not feel at liberty to quote them. On minor points they made many valuable suggestions which were included in the eighth draft, which was discussed and amended by the Ministers on the 27th and 28th January. These amendments were included in the ninth and final draft, which was ready, together with a letter to the Governor, on the 1st February.

Mr Senanayake had hoped to sign the letter on Mrs Senanayake’s birthday, 31st January. When he mentioned this to me I remarked jokingly that the next “auspicious day” was my wedding day, the 2nd February. The letter to the Governor enclosing the ninth and final edition of the Ministers’ Draft was therefore signed on that day. The letter mentioned that this was a “complete constitutional scheme” but that it had not been checked by a legal draftsman. “Any legal pruning that may be necessary can be undertaken after His Majesty’s Government has been satisfied that it is within the four corners of the Declaration”. The letter further asked for early consideration and expressed the hope that the new Constitution would be brought into operation without a further extension of the life of the State Council: i.e. it asked for enactment in 1944. Mention was made of the fact that the Constitution was unicameral, but that it was desired to give the Ceylon Parliament power to establish a bicameral system. There was finally a reference to the proposals for representation and a statement that Mr A. Mahadeva would prefer a different procedure.

[1] See Sessional Paper XIV of 1944 for the Ministers’ Draft and Explanatory Memorandum.

[2] Mervyn Fonseka K.C; leading Government of Ceylon lawyer.

[3] The Indian plantation workers, sometimes called Estate or Indian Tamils, did not endear themselves to the Sri Lankan Establishment since they formed a sizable minority in multiple electoral constituencies, especially in the Kandyan area that could determine the outcome and, even more worryingly for the U.N.P., they favoured Marxist candidates.

[4] Harold Laski, British Labour politician; Professor at the London School of Economics, 1926–1950 where he was a colleague of IJ’s.

[5] Not found.

[6] H. J. Huxham, Financial Secretary of Ceylon, 1937–45.

[7] Sir Edward Fellowes, Assistant Clerk and later Clerk of the House of Commons, 1954–61.

[8] George E. de Silva, senior Ceylon National Congress and U.N.P. politician (see note below)

[9] Founded in 1919 with Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam as its first President it was the Island’s major political organisation of Ceylon that advocated greater self–government and later independence for Ceylon.  It paved the way for the U.N.P.

[10] The United National Party was founded in 1946 drawing support from a broad spectrum including minorities in the run up to the 1947 general election preceding independence and was founded and led by D.S. Senanayake until his death in 1952.

[11] A “slash and burn” form of cultivation historically used in the area.

[12] Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, senior Indian Civil Servant during both the colonial and independence eras.  The talks were held in Colombo in September 1941.

[13] This refers to the Ceylon Citizenship Act No. 18 of 1948 and related laws that followed, which effectively stripped or denied citizenship to many tea plantation works of Indian descent.  This was a group of largely illiterate and property–less people whose families had often been working on the island often for generations. Their inability to get citizenship was coupled with the removal of any right to vote. Therefore almost 12% of the population lost their ability to choose their representatives.

[14] Section 5 of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 prevented legislation from discriminating on religious and community grounds. The 1937 constitution also contained a section on “Fundamental Rights”, which had extensive provisions related to individual rights.

[15] This refers to a conference chaired by Viscount Bryce in 1917–18, which advocated reforms to the House of Lords and in its investigations examined international forms and styles of bicameralism.

[16] D. C. R. Gunawardena, Ceylon Civil Servant and Clerk of the State Council, 1940–47.

[17] Sir Arunachalam Mahadeva, Tamil U.N.P. politician; Minister of Home Affairs, 1942–47.

[18] Dr Madhao Shrihari Aney, Government of India Agent to Ceylon from July 1943. Such Agents were mainly responsible for scrutinizing the working conditions of Indians overseas working, particularly in plantations, across the British Empire.

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