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History of Parliament of Sri Lanka

Old Parliament

The Executive Council and the Legislative Council met in the building opposite the picturesque Gordon Gardens, now occupied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, until the scene was shifted to the Parliament Building fronting the ocean at Galle Face.

This building, declared open on 29th January 1930 by Governor Sir Herbert Stanley, housed the Legislature till April 1982. Consequent to constitutional reforms, the name of the Legislature changed several times as follows : the Legislative Council (1833-1931), the State Council (1931 - 1947), the House of Representatives (1947 - 1972), the National State Assembly (1972 - 1978) and the Parliament (1978-). At the time this building was declared open as the Legislative Council the seating accommodation in its Chamber was for 49 Members.

In 1947 the membership of the House was increased to 101 with the introduction of the Soulbury Constitution. It was further increased from 101 to 157 as recommended by the Delimitation Commission of 1959 and continued to be so until 1972. With the adoption of the Republican Constitution of Sri Lanka in 1972 the membership increased to 168. On each of these occasions structural alterations were made to accommodate the increased membership.

Unlike in the House of Commons of Great Britain, where tradition takes a tenacious hold on practice, and where every member is not provided with a seat in the Chamber, in Sri Lanka every Member of Parliament is provided with a seat in the Chamber.

This building, which had seen constitutional reforms over the years, had without any extension provided accommodation for the offices of the Prime Minister, the Chief Government Whip and the Leader of the Opposition and a room for the exclusive use of Lady Members.

The increase in the membership and the consequent work-load of Parliament created an awareness of the need for a new Parliament Building with adequate accommodation and attendant facilities.

After the General Election of 1977 a decision was taken by the Government for the construction of a new House of Parliament at Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. On 4th July, 1979 Parliamentary sanction was given to construct it.

History of Sri Jayawardhanapura Kotte

Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte, founded in the 3rd quarter of the 14th century by King Vikramabahu III's powerful Prime Minister Nissaka Alakesvara, who was earlier known as Nissanka Alagakonara, was the seat of Government of Sri Lanka in the glorious reign of that illustrious monarch Parakramabahu VI. Kotte was also the abode of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, now enshrined in the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. The city's fame was eulogized in superlative terms by scholar poet the Venerable Totagamuwe Sri Rahula in his epistle poem of classic fame, the Selalihini Sandeshaya. Today, the glory and the beauty of Parakramabahu VI's Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte are lovingly shown on the Lobby walls of the Parliament by that legendary painter, Dr. L.T.P. Manjusri.

Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte was in the 1st century the capital of the then most powerful of the several kingdoms of Sri Lanka.

The Administrative Capital of Sri Lanka since 1982 is Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. The House of Parliament was shifted from Colombo, the previous capital, to a newly constructed building on a small island in the centre of "Diyawanna Oya", and ancient waterway in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte. It was ceremonially declared open on 29th April 1982 at the auspicious hour of 10.28 a.m. by the then President, His Excellency Junius Richard Jayewardene. This is the third building erected to house the Legislature of the Island since it was set up in 1833.

Colombo is the Commercial Capital now.


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