State Council of Ceylon

State Council of Ceylon
British Ceylon
Established 1931
Disbanded 1947
Preceded by Legislative Council of Ceylon
Succeeded by Parliament of Ceylon
Seats 58
Last election
Ceylonese State Council election, 1936
Meeting place
The State Council building in Galle Face Green, Colombo. The building was used by the State Council's successors (the House of Representatives of Ceylon, National State Assembly, and Parliament of Sri Lanka) until 1982. Today it is known as the Old Parliament Building and houses the Presidential Secretariat.
Coat of arms of Sri Lanka, showing a lion holding a sword in its right forepaw surrounded by a ring made from blue lotus petals which is placed on top of a grain vase sprouting rice grains to encircle it. A Dharmacakra is on the top while a sun and moon are at the bottom on each side of the vase.
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The State Council of Ceylon was the unicameral legislature for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), established in 1931 by the Donoughmore Constitution. The State Council gave universal adult franchise to the people of the colony for the first time. It replaced the Legislative Council of Ceylon, the colony's original legislative body.

There were only two State Councils: the First, elected in 1931, and the Second, elected in 1936. The 1947 Soulbury Constitution replaced the State Council with the Parliament of Ceylon, as part of a process of constitutional development leading up to independence, which took place on 4 February 1948.


Ministers of the Second State Council of Ceylon with the Speaker in 1936

Due to Ceylonese demands for constitutional reform, a royal commission was established by the British authorities under the chairmanship of the Earl of Donoughmore. The Donoughmore Commission arrived in the colony in 1927, before returning to the United Kingdom where it issued its report. The Commission proposed reforms which were implemented as the so-called Donoughmore Constitution, resulting in the abolution of the Legislative Council of Ceylon as the colony's legislature, and its replacement by a "State Council" in 1931.

The structure and working of the State Council was experimental, and was based in part on the United Kingdom's London County Council. The State Council functioned in both an executive and legislative capacity, with seven committees performing executive duties. Each committee consisted of designated members of the State Council, and was chaired by an elected Ceylonese who was addressed as minister. The Ceylonese ministers formed a board of ministers with three British officials of ministerial rank who handled defence, external affairs, finance, and judicial matters.

The Donoughmore Constitution was not considered a great success, and this combined with Ceylonese demands for further constitutional reform led to a new commission being established, under the chairmanship of Lord Soulbury, which arrived in Ceylon in 1944. Based on the report by the Soulbury Commission, a new constitution was created, by which the State Council was replaced by a Parliament, elections for which were conducted in 1947. Negotiations with Ceylon's newly elected government resulted in the British granting Ceylon independence as a dominion in 1948.


The State Council consisted of 58 members, of whom 50 would be elected by universal suffrage, with the remaining 8 members appointed by the Governor.

Members of the State Council

Speakers of the State Council

Leaders of the House

Ministers of the State Council

Other state councillors

Clerk of the State Council

The Clerk of the State Council was the senior administrative officer of council and an apolitical civil servant.


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