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Home > Sathyam - Truth is a Pathless Land > Human Rights & the Tamil Nation > Somasunderam Nadesan > Nadesan's First Speech in the Senate
Mr. Nadesan's First Speech in the Senate on 27 November 1947
Address of Thanks, Session 1947-48, Volume 1 of Hansard
I am one of the Independent Senators occupying the Opposition Benches. I thought that it is but right that I should intervene in this debate at this state of the discussion, particularly in view of the remark made by the Sinhala Maha Sabba Senator (Mr Kotelawala) about the curious circumstances that on these Benches were seated a Tamil Congress Senator, Leftist Senators and an Indian Congress Senator: but he did not refer to another, an Independent.
As he rightly put it, among those of us who are on the Opposition Benches there are five Senators who belong to five different political parties with different ideologies and different programmes. As far as I am concerned, I belong to no party, though I must confess that at a very early stage I happened to be in the Tamil Congress with a view to seeing whether I could not change the Tamil Congress to my way of thinking. At that stage all of us thought that it was but right that people who have different views with regard to matters should, if they subscribed to the principal objects of an organisation, be members of that organisation and put forward their different views from inside.
Today I am sitting in this Chamber as an Independent Senator, and I propose to make reference to the various speeches that have been made against as well as in support of the Speech of His Excellency the Governor.
I might mention that if we six of us here with different ideologies and different programmes happen to occupy the Opposition Benches, it is certainly not because we agree among ourselves with regard to very many matters, but because we are opposed to the policy and programme of the U.N.P. administration.
In other words, it is not necessity that has made us strange bed-fellow but it is the fact of the misfortune of the United National Party administration that has brought us, strange bed-fellows, together.
I stated that, we differed on a number of matters, and I should at the very outset refer to one remark in support of the amendment made by the Hon. Senator who sits on my right. He stated that Ceylon was the most backward among Eastern countries so far as social legislation was concerned. That is not a proposition to which I can possibly subscribe, because a perusal of our Statute Books will show that, so far as social legislation in Ceylon is concerned, it is of very great pleasure to me to be able to say that the Hon. Senator who sits on my left (Mr Peri Sundaram) was mainly responsible for the major portion of the entire social legislation of the country, though I must say that even subsequent to his time social legislation has certainly found priority with whatever government was in power.
The Speech of His Excellency the Governor is to my mind an epoch-making unique speech, that it is a speech which announced in significant terms that Ceylon will enjoy in full measure all the rights, privileges and freedom enjoyed by any other Dominion; and that Ceylon will take its place as a free, independent and self-governing member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Speech goes on to say that in the sphere of external affairs, on the attainment of Dominion Status, Ceylon will enter upon new relations with other countries and other States.
It is an epoch-making statement, because if it is indeed true that we have achieved independence and freedom, it will be the first instance in the history of mankind that a great Power having in its grip a small, helpless Power, would have voluntarily relinquished and renounced its control over it. Never before in history of the world have we witnessed such a phenomenon. Yet we are told that Britain is voluntarily renouncing her hold on Ceylon and granting us complete independence. If this is true, it is indeed a matter for rejoicing.
There are certain occasions in the life of all nations when questions arise which are above all consideration of parties, castes, creeds, religion and communities. One of these questions is the question of the struggle for national emancipation. In such a struggle there is no place for petty party policies and programmes. There comes a time when as a result of the fight for national emancipation freedom is achieved. This is the time when all the inhabitants, men, women and children, must join together in a rejoicing to celebrate that independence and freedom. There may come a time when this hardly-won freedom may have to be defended against external aggression. That is another time when all parties and communities, all creeds and races, must rise as one man to defend that freedom. Therefore, it would be a matter for very great satisfaction indeed if on this occasion all parties in this country, inspite of their own party programmes and their own ideas with regard to how things should be done, could rise as one man to celebrate that independence and freedom. It is right that this should be done.
If we have achieved independence, it will be time enough for us to express our gratitude to the people who have in the past contributed to this independence and to congratulate those who have been immediately responsible for the attainment of this independence. But we should be satisfied that we have really won independence, because this renouncement by the British Government of its hold on Ceylon, is unparalleled in the history of the world. This will be really the first time that any country in the world has won its freedom, not by struggle and strife and going through fire, but by petitioning and praying and by peaceful negotiation.
We all know the story of Prince Siddhartha and how he renounced a kingdom in the pursuit of spiritual truth. Nobody has suggested, not even the Minister of Information in his propaganda, that the British Government through lofty contact with a Buddhist Prime Minister, has also started in search of spiritual truth. (An Hon. Senator: "Edward VIII?) Yes, he did renounce a kingdom but that was in pursuit of something else (An Hon. Senator: "But he renounced").
However what I wish to emphasise is this: we cannot find fault with anybody, if we really look into these Agreements and these Acts of Parliament carefully with a view to finding out whether we are witnessing one of the greatest phenomena - a miracle - in world history, or whether there is some snag somewhere in it; and we, as Senators, as persons who owe a certain duty to our country, cannot possibly allow this matter to be considered by others for us. We will ourselves have to be satisfied with regard to the matter. It is rather a difficult matter to be analysing enactments and Bills with a view to discovering what is behind them.
If indeed we have won independence, there should be complete unanimity in this country, and we should all, with one voice, acclaim that independence. When India was granted independence men and women from all parts of India gathered together in their thousands, and without one dissentient voice, celebrated that event. That is what we in Ceylon should feel at a time when we can stand with our heads erect before any other nation in the world.
There is a simple way, without going into legal enactments, in which that matter can be solved. There are three tests by which we can find out whether we have won complete independence. The first is to ascertain whether we have the right to secede. This is the test which the Prime Minister of South Africa set in a debate early in 1930 in the South African Parliament. He said that the touchstone of Dominion independence was whether a country had the right to secede; and he went on to say that test is absolutely essential from the point of view of the international status of a Dominion.
The second is to ascertain whether we have been granted Dominion Status? That is status which is well-known to the Constitutional lawyer. That is the status which has been established at a series of international conferences.
The third question that arises is, whether the Defence and External Affairs Agreements can be terminated by Ceylon unilaterally at will?
If these three conditions are satisfied, and answered in the affirmative, then truly we have achieved independence and it will be time enough for us to celebrate that independence.
On these maters we have an answer which our Government has given us, both in Sessional Paper XXII where the observations of the Prime Minister appear, and in the information vouchsafed by the Minister of Information to the Press. The answer of our Government is that this Act confers upon us Dominion Status; that it gives us the right to secede; and that we can terminate the Defence and External Affairs Agreements at will.
But unfortunately there have been, in the past, some difficulties with regard to the interpretation which our Government has put on documents prepared in England and sent down here. Hon. Senators may be aware of the fact that in the year 1943 a declaration was made by His Majesty's Government with regard to the formulation of a Constitution for Ceylon by the then Board of Ministers; how our Ministers formulated and set a draft Constitution to Whitehall and how Whitehall thereafter appointed a Commission to visit Ceylon and inquire into the matter; whereas, our Government though that the matter would be concluded by looking into the Constitution itself in England. As a result of that disagreement, our Ministers stated that there was a breach of undertaking by the British Government. The Ministers therefore withdrew their draft Constitution as is stated in Sessional Paper XIV of 1944. This is what is stated -
"The Ministers have withdrawn, not because they have any hesitation in recommending it to the State Council, but because in their opinion His Majesty's Government has failed to carry out the undertaking given in the Declaration of 1943".
That was the opinion of our Ministers. But the opinion of the Government in England was that they had carried out their undertaking.
From this it is obvious that in regard to matters of undertakings and carrying them out, there can be a difference between the view held by our Ministers and the view held by the Imperial Government. It may be that there is some misunderstanding somewhere with regard to the interpretation of the Act and Defence Agreement.
It is significant that in so far as the British Government is concerned, no authoritative spokesman has on any single occasion said that this Act confers upon Ceylon Dominion Status. They have taken care to say that this marks the attainment of Dominion stature and self governing status, but they have scrupulously avoided the use of the words "Dominion Status", which is a term well known to Constitutional Law and which signifies well-known principles and conventions. Nor is this all. Neither have they stated at any time that these Defence and External Affairs Agreements can be abrogated by Ceylon at Will.
Therefore the Opposition parties cannot be blamed if they think that Ceylon has not achieved its goal, and if they are rather cautious in expressing their enthusiasm. The persons who have been so successful in negotiating by peaceful methods the freedom of our country may be classed, in view of the nature of the negotiation, among the most fortunate negotiators in the history of the world. It cannot be a difficult task for such able people make a declaration in unequivocal and categorical terms (1) that it has conferred upon Ceylon Dominion Status, not stature; (2) that Ceylon under this Act has the right to secede; and (3) that the Defence and External Affairs Agreements can be terminated at any time.
This cannot be a difficult task. It cannot be half so difficult as the arduous negotiations that have resulted in this fruit of freedom being given to us; and will it not be a great day for Ceylon when we all can rise together as one man acclaim the freedom of this land? All this can rise together as one man and acclaim the freedom on this land? All this can be achieved by a simple declaration from His Majesty's Government that these rights and privileges have been conceded, so that we may be certain that the grievous mistake of 1943 will not be repeated and that I desire to suggest that this is a very simple method whereby all doubts on this matter can be set at rest. Then will it be time for all of us to join in expressing our gratitude, our deep indebtedness to Mr Senanayake, the Prime Minister, and those associated with him for bringing to fruition a movement that was started in Ceylon years ago, and in which a large number of people including the Hon. Senator (Mr Peri Sundaram) have had the honour to participate.
But if this is not done, then on the day that the Independence motion is moved, inevitably the Opposition will have to try to understand the position as far as they can for themselves. We cannot be blamed if we are rather exercised in mind with regard to what the reasons may be that have induced the British Government who were willing to part with freedom to us to reticent with regard to the words in which the grant of freedom should be couched. It is rather unnatural for somebody who does a good deed, not to like to talk about it and tell other people the true position. If we ask for clarification, a clarification would be immediately forthcoming.
However, I do not propose to say anything more with regard to this aspect of the matter except that we shall wait patiently until there is a clarification of the position in unequivocal terms by the British Government. After that we will be the first to join the Government in celebrating the freedom granted to us. If the British Government has some mysterious reason for refusing to make a Declaration in those terms, then I venture to say that there cannot be the slightest objection to their wording it in a different way, in the way they worded the Declaration at the time of the Treaty with Ireland. According to that Treaty, the British Government gave Ireland the same Constitutional status as the Dominions of Canada, of Australia, of New Zealand, of South Africa. Those are the words of the Irish Treaty which have been subsequently incorporated in an Act of Parliament.
The words "Dominion Status" do occur in His Excellency's Speech. But of course it is not His Excellency's Speech; it is the Ministers' speech and it embodies the Ministers' views, not His Excellency's views. His Excellency expressed his own views the day previous. Everybody seems to fond of the new words, new to Constitutional Law, that have been coined - "Dominion stature". It is usual to refer even to a 19 year old boy and say that he has reached the stature of a major, but of course he is not a major. I wonder whether that is the distinction - that we have reached the stature of a Dominion but we are not a Dominion.
However if His Excellency says in his Speech that we "will enjoy in full measure all the rights, privileges and freedom of any other Dominion", and will take our place "as a free and independent self-governing member of the British Commonwealth of Nations", my submission is that there should be no difficulty on the part of the British Government in categorically stating that so far as Ceylon is concerned, it enjoys the same Constitutional status as is enjoyed by the self-governing Dominion of Canada, the self-governing Dominion of New Zealand of the Commonwealth of Australia. If we obtain some statement like that from the British Government, then I say will it be time indeed for us to stand erect and say, "We have attained our freedom".
I trust that the Hon. Leader of the Senate will exert himself in obtaining such a pronouncement made so that the question of the independence of Ceylon need not be a matter of controversy between Party and Party and between sections of the community but will be a matter about which there will not be the slightest doubt so that one and all could get together and say "At last we have won freedom for our country". Until then, I do not propose to deal further with the matter. We will wait anxiously till the substantive motion on Independence is brought up in the Senate, anxiously await the result of my submission, and see how the Government spokesman and the Cabinet will react to this statement, and what it is that they are going to produce before us.
So far as independence and freedom are concerned, we all realise that freedom and that independence must be utilised in a manner worthy of free people. Even though it may be that we have not achieved that full measure of independence that is connoted by the word "freedom" yet if we are really a democratic people we should share whatever freedom we have with everybody else in our midst.
That brings me to the second question with which I propose to deal and which is apparently a very important question that is exercising the mind of the present Government; that is, the Indian problem and the question of Indo-Ceylon relations. With regard to India and Ceylon, there are a large number of problems, which have to be solved, and according to our Government, one of the problems that have to solve is the question of the status and rights of the Indians residents in this country.
My own view is that, it is a problem that must be settled directly with the Indian residents here and not with the Indian Government, for the simple reason that these are workers who have been brought over to Ceylon on certain conditions, and 40% or 50% of them or more have spent their entire life in Ceylon. Some of them were born here. Ceylon has been their home; and what is known as the Indian problem does not exist so far as the Indian labourer is concerned.
In the debate on the motion introduced in the Legislative Council for the acceptance of the Donoughmore proposals, Mr Molamure proposed that a literacy test should be applied in respect of Indians resident in Ceylon, as otherwise with unrestricted immigration, it may be possible for Indians to come from India and we may be politically dominated. That was the reason and it is a valid reason. It was the reason for their agitation for the restriction of the India franchise at that time. Due to the fact that the Ceylon Government had no power to prohibit unrestricted immigration from India, it was considered advisable and necessary that the Indian franchise should be restricted in some way lest Ceylon should be dominated by Indians. That is how certain restrictions came to be imposed in respect of the franchise.
Today the problem is different. We have the power to stop all further immigration into this country. What is more, from the year 1939, India has stopped all emigration to this country. but the Indian labourer working on estates is absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of our estates and for the economy of the country. Therefore, it is but right that we should provide for that labour, and grant rights of citizenship to that labour.
It is one of two things: if we are a free people, we have no business to employ foreign labour; we must send it away; we must work ourselves; we should not be exploiters of other people's labour, we who talk of exploitation ourselves. If on the other hand, we desire that justice should be done to those who help us to have a certain standard of life in this country, who contribute by their toil largely to the material prosperity of this country - if we feel that some sort of justice should be done, we should give full citizenship rights to all Indian labourers who are willing to renounce their citizenship of India and are willing to become citizens of Ceylon. Any other method of tackling the problem of Indian labour will certainly not be the way in which a free country should face such a situation.
Today it cannot be said that, with the limited Indian population who can at the most send 7 or 8 Members into a House of Representative of 101, there is any danger of those 7 or 8 Members dominating the political life of the country. That is not an argument that can lie in the mouth of the Government. In these circumstances the only thing that should be done is to assimilate the entire Indian labour population in this country, because that will help to strengthen the economy of the Ceylonese nation, and not keep them as a separate and distinct group of people who have no rights at all in this country.
In this connection, I may say that I was rather taken aback at the remarks made by the Hon. Indian Senator who was born in Ceylon who said that they should express their gratitude to the Prime Minister. I trust that this expression of gratitude is personal and not an expression on behalf of the Indian labourers in this country, because it is really painful to see the manner in which the Premier who, according to this Indian Senator who was born in Ceylon, is a far-sighted statesman, has tackled this problem of Indian labour.
With regard to the franchise rights of the Indian labour, the consistent endeavour of the present Prime Minister, despite the fact that the presence of these Indian labourers is of the greatest use to us, and far from their being a hindrance to us they are helping us to earn whatever surplus revenue could possibly be earned, has always been to reduce the number of voters who can possibly come from among them. Even if the entirety of the 700,000 of them exercise the vote they can at the most send 8 Members out of 101 to the House of Representatives. That is an aspect of the matter that has always struck me as rather curious - that today anybody who calls himself a statesman should take upon himself to say that we will get these persons to do all this work but so far as franchise rights are concerned, despite the fact that we will not be dominated, we will not give them any thing even though they are willing to declare themselves citizens of Ceylon. I should have thought that any Indian labourer who at the end of a period of 5 years residence in Ceylon is willing to renounce his Indian nationality and adopt Ceylonese nationality, should have no difficulty in acquiring citizenship rights. Then the whole problem of Indian labour in Ceylon will be satisfactorily solves for all time.
In this connection, there was a conference in Delhi with Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai in the year 1940 which proved abortive, and subsequently there was an Agreement in 1941 in Ceylon at which Sir Girja Shankar Bapji who at that time represented the Imperial Government came over to Ceylon and, on account of the fact that war clouds were lowering in the East, considered that it was proper that he should enter into an Agreement agreeing to all that Mr Senanayake wanted. That agreement was subsequently repudiated by India.
Ever since then the Premier's bible has been the Bajpai Agreement which was really an informal Agreement that was not meant to be binding on either the Indian or the Ceylon Governments. A resolution was brought before the Ceylon National Congress in December 1941, asking that the Bajpai Agreement be approved, and this is what Mr Senanayake said on that occasion:
"This agreement will reduce the number of Indians on the electoral list to a negligible quantity . Who were the Indians, he asked, who would go before a Court of law, stand cross-examination by counsel and satisfy the Judge that they had a permanent domicile in this country? He then cited legal decisions of the Supreme Court which showed what severe tests the Courts desired of those who claimed a domicile of choice or of permanent interest in the country. He added that under this Agreement not only would the number of Indians already on the electoral list be reduced by 70% or 80% but that he was inclined to think that there might be no registration at all".
That appeared in the Ceylon Daily News of January 1, 1942 and the truth of that statement as it appeared in the Press, has not yet been denied.
Mr Senanayake, the statesman that he is, seriously considers that an agreement by which the entirety of the Indian of the Indian labour population in this country would be deprived of their franchise and thereafter be made to work as labourers on estates, for all times, as slaves in a free country is fair. That is his conception of statesmanship.
This is not the way in which the problem of Indian labour can solved or ought to be solved. It is interesting to contrast that statement with the subsequent attitude of Mr Senanayake. That a mental change had overtaken Mr Senanayake was evidenced by two documents. That a mental change had overtaken Mr Senanayake was evidenced by two documents. One of those documents is the Report of the Soulbury Commissioners. In paragraph 240 at page 63 of their Report, the Soulbury Commissioners say:
"In view of the ban on emigration imposed by the Government of India in 1939, few of the Indian unskilled workers now in Ceylon have been resident in the Island for less than five years. A large number have been born there and, under the new Constitution, if our recommendation is accepted, it will be within the power of the Government of Ceylon to regulate further admissions; consequently, the Government of Ceylon will have the ability as we feel sure it already has the desire to assimilate the Indian community and to make it part and parcel of a single nation"
Now, the Government of Ceylon of that day is referred to by the Soulbury Commissioners. The one spokesman of the Government of Ceylon who was in continuous touch with the Soulbury Commissioners and who would have, in all probability, given them the impression embodied in their Report was Mr Senanayake. What was the impression he gave to the Soulbury Commissioners? It was that the Government of Ceylon had the ability and the desire to assimilate the Indian community and make it part and parcel of the Ceylonese nation.
That was the position Mr Senanayake took up before the Soulbury Commissioners. He said that he wanted to assimilate the Indian community and make it part and parcel of a single Ceylonese nation. At the time the White Paper containing the Soulbury proposals was debated, Mr Senanayake being overjoyed by the fact that he had obtained from the Commissioners everything he wanted, expressed himself in these terms:
"As far as India is concerned our affection for her is known to all Indians"
In due course, on account of this affection for India, an agreement will be entered into Britain for bases here-
"The pity of it is some people doubt it and believe that we have some snobbish ideas that Indians are not wanted here. We have no such ideas. We respect the Indians, we love the Indians, we admire them. There is hardly any difference with regard to the view of my Friend, Diwan Bahadur I.X. Pereira and myself when we think of it, My friend says: 'We want full citizenship'. I tell them: 'If you live here, we will embrace you!". (Now after the Indian Independence Act, he is merely Mr I.X. Pereira).
But how is the Indian labourer to live in Ceylon? I think the only way he can do that is by having a little piece of land in Ceylon to live on. He requires help in that direction and that help ought to be readily forthcoming when there is that desire on the part of a great statesman to embrace the entire Indian population in this country and make it part and parcel of the Ceylonese nation. But yet when the Indian labourer applies for land, he is told that no land could be given to him. And when he is not given land, surely he will have no place to live in? And then as he has no place to live in, he is told that he will not be given citizenship rights in this country, that he will not be given the franchise. This is how that vicious circle works. This is hardly the way in which a statesman should go about tackling a problem of this nature. Freedom will have no meaning to the entirety of the Ceylonese people if we are going to have in this country some 600,000 to 700,000 persons to be exploited.
In contrast to this attitude of Mr Senanayake, particularly as indicated in his observation on the Bajpai Agreement, we may look at another document containing a statement made by the Donoughmore Commissioners with regard to Indian labour in this country. This is what they say:
"Among the Indian immigrant labourers, whose position we examine later, a literacy test ......"
That is what advocated in the last Council because at that time there was no control of immigration and that gave rise to the fear that there would be complete domination by Indian labour. But that is not the position today. The Donoughmore Commissioners continue to say:
"a literacy test would produce a mere handful of electors as, by reason of their lowly birth and lack of opportunity, they are very largely illiterate. We would hesitate before recommending the imposition of any qualification which would deny to these humble people the political status of their more fortunate fellows and the opportunity of escaping from conditions some of which are incongruous in any country with established democratic institutions".
But how fares the Indian labourer in this new era, taking for granted that the freedom we are given is real and true? Under the new dispensation, how is the Indian labourer going to escape from those conditions which are incongruous in any country with established democratic institutions? He cannot shake himself of the shackles unless he is given the vote, unless he is made a citizen of this country, provided, of course, he is willing to renounce his Indian nationality and become a Ceylonese. It is vital for strengthening and maintaining the stability of Ceylon that we should not have in our midst any labour which owes allegiance to another country.
I would like to remind Hon. Senators how, not very long ago, large number of people from various parts of Europe who migrated to America were treated in that country. Though those immigrants were not granted American citizenship, everyone of their children was given American citizenship because the Americans knew that a foreign element in their midst would not be productive of good results. Apart from the justice of giving the Indian labourer his due, should be made to assimilate the entire Indian population, which is willing to be assimilated and become part and parcel of a united Ceylonese nation.
Whilst on the subject of freedom, it is perhaps right to refer to the freedom that is sought by another class of persons amongst us, namely, the Public Servants. Reference has already been made to that matter by the Hon. Senator who spoke last, who was himself till quite recently an ornament of the Public Service of this country. He is one who is fully conversant with the traditions of the Public Service under Colonial administration. Naturally, he is opposed to Public Servants under Colonial administration. Naturally, he is opposed to Public Servants participating in political matters or being susceptible to political influence. But it is high time that this question is looked at from another point of view.
We are democratic institution. We have a Standing Order which prohibits us from referring to Hon. Senators by name. That prohibition is causing us a considerable amount of inconvenience. We follow May's Parliamentary Procedure in conducting our deliberations here. We who are living in a tropical climate go to England even in the matter of costumes. Even when a persistent demand is made for the amendment or abrogation of the Public Security Ordinance, we are told that we must first find out how things are done in England in that regard.
The Public Servants have taken the cue from the Government and they say that the Public Servants in England enjoy certain rights and that those rights and privileges should be given to them also. But hen the Government sits back and says "no". There does not appear to be any logic in this approach to the question. No one pretends that the people of Ceylon are as fit to exercise and control responsible institutions, democratic institutions, as the people of England are. But that fact has not prevented England from giving us democratic institutions, a Parliament and an assembly of this nature. But we who have been granted these institutions, despite the fact that we have not come up to the standard of the English people or the English politician, when it comes to the matter of granting to our Public Servants rights similar to those enjoyed by the Public Servants in England, we want them to wait in patience till they reach the standard of English Public Servants. That is the sort of logic which impels the Government to refuse Public Servants the right to affiliate themselves with other trade unions and the right to hold political matters.
Let us look at this matter as it affects us locally, without concerning ourselves very much with what has happened in England and elsewhere. During the last strike, His Excellency the Governor, as well as Mr Senanayake, in their public pronouncements stated that there was no use in Public Servants resorting to a strike in support of their demand for trade union rights and other cognate matters. They said that they could exercise their franchise in a certain way and elect representatives who would obtain for them those rights. I asked of a Public Servant as to whom they should elect to fight for their trade union rights, if Public Servants must not discuss politics, must not take any corporate action, how are they to efficiently carry out those benign instructions given by His Excellency the Mr Governor and Mr Senanayake? The only manner in which Public Servants can send into Parliament representatives who will be in a position to advocate their cause is by arriving at some common agreement as to who should represent them. That can only be done if they are given the right to meet and discuss political mattress and thereafter come to a decision. If every Government Servant is expected to keep his mouth shut or only talk to one or two others and thereafter exercise his vote, then each one of them will think differently and vote differently.
Exchange of views on matters of common interest is necessary. Today the Secretary of State for the Colonies simply does not exist, so far as the Public Servants of this country are concerned. Parliament is paramount and it is right that our Public Servants should be given the right to determine who should represent their interests in Parliament. For that purpose, the right of free discussions, opportunity to exchange views and, if need be, the right to create a political fund must be granted to them.
Apart from the question of a political fund, the right to affiliate with other trade unions is a very important matter. There is no reason why a union of Public Servants should not affiliate with other unions.
If they are prevented from forming themselves publicly into associations, it is always possible that when you do not permit them to express their opinions publicly and openly, they will be driven underground, with the result that Public Servants thereby may engage themselves in activities which may not be conducive to the interests of the State.
The very fact that the Public Service Regulations existed and that Public Servants were prevented from discussing political matters did not prevent the strike that took place a few months ago. Therefore, on grounds of expediency, apart from anything else, there is no reason why the Public Servants here should not be granted the same rights and privileges as Public Servants in England. After all, the State has behind it sanctions which it can effectively enforce in the event of Public Servants going wrong.
There is another aspect of the matter. If they have a political fund, what with these various political Parties clamouring for funds to serve their own needs, they may make such advances to the Public Servants that the Public Servants would themselves decide to wind up the fund. It may be that they overrated these rights because these have been denied to them. That may be the reason why they are struggling to secure these rights. But as we know, if something that is very much desired to some is not grated, the psychological effect and the tendency would for surreptitious attempts to be made to enjoy those rights.
In this connection, I am reminded of what happened with regard to a trade dispute in which I happened to appear. One of the demands made by a fireman in one of the mills in Colombo was that he should be supplied with shoes and gloves. Apparently somebody had given him the idea, rightly or wrongly, that firemen should be provided with shoes and gloves and that firemen in other parts of the world were provided with shoes and gloves. When the matter came before the tribunal, the tribunal agreed that it was a good suggestion, and with much difficulty, I was able to persuade the employer to grant the employees their demand for shoes. I explained that gloves were not available at the time, and that demand was not pressed.
Accordingly this fireman was given a pair of shoes, and on the next day when he wore the pair of shoes whilst on duty, he slipped and very nearly fell into the fire; and thereafter he discarded the pair of shoes. That was the last we heard of this demand for shoes for firemen.
Similarly, there is, a desire to have these rights and to exercise these rights and, if these rights are granted, to imagine that Public Servants will abuse these rights is, not in accordance with what we know of how human beings act and react. After all, it must not be forgotten that the stability of Government is one of the matters in which the Public Servants themselves are vitally interested and concerned. There is no need for one to imagine that if they are allowed free expression of their views and are not debarred from taking part in controversial debates in their own associations and organisations, and if they have political funds, that it will in any way interfere with the due performance of their duties.
Today we are governed by a Cabinet composed entirely of members of the United National Party. I am sure that, in matters of administration, they will not favour those sections of the population who helped them and even went out of their way to assist them during their election. I am sure that they will consider it their bounden duty to discharge their duties fairly by all sections of the people, irrespective of the Party to which they belong, and there is nothing to warrant the assumption that any Public Servant merely because he is given the right to elect or select whom he should have as a Member of Parliament to represent his interests, or is given the right to discuss political matters, would abuse that privilege.
In this connection, I might mention an incident that took place about two years ago in Bombay, when a great Socialist leader addressed a gathering of stenographers. He preached to them about Rightists and Leftists and then one of the stenographers got up and said: "We are neither Leftists nor Rightists; we are typists"!. That will indicate to you that so far as the performance of their functions is concerned, they are not worried about political considerations. They are not worried by questions of Rightists or Leftists; they are merely typists, and if they are called upon to do a job of typing, they will do it efficiently. There is no difference between a Rightist's typing and a Leftist's typing; they will both do the work efficiently.
Therefore, I hope that, the Public Servants will be given their full rights and privileges, and trust that the Government, without being obsessed by a sort of psychology of fear, will generously grant to the Public Servants their demands; and I have not the slightest doubt that the Parliament Servants themselves will respond to such a gesture as they ought to respond.
There is one aspect of the matter which I intended to deal with in detail and that is the nationalisation of the bus services. For want of time however, I do not propose to deal with the matter at length except to say that I wholeheartedly support the amendment to nationalise bus services.
After all, if something is not proposed by the Government there must be an amendment referring to such omission, as that is the conventional method by which we show one's lack of confidence in the Government. That is a procedure that we have adopted from England. The Government enumerates some things, and however, desirable those things may be, the only manner in which we can propose a vote of no confidence is to move an amendment relating to some other matters. If the Government has omitted to put forward certain proposals, then those of the Opposition are put to the necessity of making proposals for the purpose of showing that they have no confidence in the administration. This circuitous method of expressing no-confidence in the administration is a method which has come down to us from England, and we have to follow that procedure here, however unsatisfactory or unsuitable it may be.
No doubt there are various proposals put forward in His Excellency, the Governor's Speech. A number of those proposals are worded in very general terms. I suppose some of them could as well have come from a Government which calls itself a Government of efficient socialism or purely a socialist Government. But the crux of the matter is this: It is not on what we say that we are going to do that we are judged but on what we actually do. Likewise, we can only judge whether we can have confidence in a Government by examining what has so far been done by that Government. This would give us an indication as to whether it is an administration in which we can have confidence.
Hon. Senators will remember that under the Donoughmore dispensation the entire administration of this country was carried on by 7 Ministers and 3 Officers of State - altogether by 10 Ministers. There was a Committee System of Government, and the Ministers themselves had, apart from the question of laying down policy, very many other matters to deal with concerning even the administration of the Departments under their Ministries. That resulted in a large amount of work. The Soulbury Commissioners recommended that under the Cabinet System of Government the Ministers should be divorced entirely from questions pertaining to the administration of departments, and that Permanent Secretaries should be appointed for the purpose of discharging that part of the work; and that so far as the Ministers were concerned, they should confine themselves purely and simply to questions of policy. Under those circumstances, one would have thought that in a small country like Ceylon the entire administration could easily be run with 7 Ministers at the most without the assistance of any Parliamentary Secretaries.
I have taken the trouble to compare the Ministries that have been formed here with the Ministries formed in comparable countries elsewhere in the British Empire, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that we are having more than double the number of Ministers who are required for the purpose of efficiently discharging their duties. What is more, we have 13 Ministers, and one Minister without a portfolio - I suppose for the purpose of thinking out problems and making vital contributions. The Hon. Senator behind me suggests that what really and truly happened was that after yielding to the demands of various persons, they arrived at 13 Ministries. Then it was discovered that 13 was an unlucky number, and therefore they thought it was but proper to have an additional Minister.
This is not the way in which a private person, who is in charge of his own affairs and who has to spend for them himself, would carry on business. For instance, if this occurred in a capitalist enterprise or a business house, whose representatives we have in this Chamber, it would have to close its offices and declare itself insolvent. But of course this is a public matter; and therefore it does not matter at all. If there are demands made, demands put forward, they think that it si but right and proper that those demands should be granted in the interests of the stability of the Government. In other words, the sort of stability created by the United National Party administration in this country is not a stability based on any principle; it is a stability based on self-interest.
Those are the people who say "Have confidence in us. We have at the very first opportunity got into positions. We have been entrusted with the sacred trust of appointing Ministers. Instead of seven Ministers who did the job formerly, we appointed 14 Ministers; we appointed 10 Parliamentary Secretaries; and we hope to give still more jobs to a number of people". However those hopes may be realised, there have been appointed 10 Parliamentary Secretaries. Not only that, 13 separate Permanent Secretaries have also been appointed; and under those 13 Permanent Secretaries we have, of course Assistant Secretaries and Private Secretaries and one should not forget that all-important person in any office, the peon. That is the way in which the United National Party has commenced the administration of this country. And apparently, according to them, if 3 people are appointed to do the work that seven people can do, that is what is called efficient socialism.
These exponents of efficient socialism apparently want to preach to other people in their propaganda - as was done only the other day by the Minister of Transport, who is the Propaganda Chief of the United National Party - that the workers in this country, if they are given eight hours' work must work for eight hours, and not for two. May I ask whether the Minister in this country should, if they are given eight hours' work do work for eight hours or see to it that they have eight hours' work?
In this connection I would give an illustration to show the type of administration that is foisted on this country, the type of administration that is now seeking our confidence. I should like to quote that instance of the Post Office. We have appointed a Minister for Posts and Telecommunication. This Department was earlier one of the departments which was an adjunct of the Ministry of Communications and Works. Now, on account of the necessity of stabilising the Government at public expense, and not on any principle, it has been thought necessary to create a Ministry to look after the policy of the Postal and Telegraph Department in this country. Of course everyone is asking why that has been done. The duties of the Postmaster-General in England are in a number of matters totally different from the duties of the Postmaster-General here. For one thing, the revenue in England from postal services is nearly £10,000,000. London is the centre of an Empire with complicated matters of various kinds, apart from matters such as national savings, insurances, old age pensions and questions regarding the efficient registration of voters. All those matters are attended to by the Postmaster General in England. In respect of a Department which was, till the other day run by a Postmaster General under the supervision of a Minister, we have now a Postmaster General, over him a Permanent Secretary and over the Permanent Secretary a Minister. And this Minister, apparently, also requires some assistance. He cannot discharge the duties all by himself. He has been given a Parliamentary Secretary to lighten his burden.
These people, who play like this with public funds, come here and say they are going to carry out some wonderful schemes and ask us to have confidence in all that they say. What is now happening is this. After all, the Ministers are human beings. When they do not find enough work to do, they interfere with the legitimate functions of the Heads of Departments.
Mr Senanayake has missed a golden opportunity at the very start of the new era of setting proper conventions for the Government of this country. It is indeed a great tragedy that a person of such undoubted prestige in the country should not have asserted himself and said, "This is how I propose to run my Government. If the Government is unstable, let us have a dissolution and go to the country once again to form a stable Government. I am not going to barter away principles for the purpose of stabilising the administration by creating a number of Ministries just for the purpose of making self-interest the predominant cohesive force of the United National Party.
The Sinhala Maha Sabha Senator who spoke asked, "What is in common between the Tamil Congress Senators and the Leftist Senators?" on this side of the Chamber. He put it as hatred. But the fact is that it is a real Opposition to the United National Party administration. I ask, what is there today in common among the various Ministers, inclusive of Independent Ministers composing the United National Party Administration? Is it love of principles? It is self-interest. That is the common factor which is responsible for this administration.
Mr Senanayake, the Prime Minister, is undoubtedly a great patriot. There may be doubts, on certain views that he holds; there may be doubts even with regard to the formulation of some of his financial policies. But none can for a moment deny his sincerity or his patriotism, or that he has tried to serve the country according to his views. And it is indeed tragic that at the time of the inauguration of the first Parliament he did not take everything into his own hands and set up a proper convention for all time by insisting on appointing the minimum number of Ministers necessary for running efficiently the Government of this country.
As it is, this evil convention that has been created may be pursued for years, much to the dissatisfaction of the entire population and to the detriment of efficient administration. It is from these things that we judge these matters, and it is indeed a pity that the person occupying the position of the Prime Minister has somehow been influenced to take certain decisions in respect of the formation of his Cabinet which are really not in the lasting interest of the country.
That is why I doubt the bona fides of this Government when it says that it is prepared to carry out the policies and programmes set out in the Speech. The moment that we look upon our position as Cabinet Minister, as a position where we can try and agitate for some advantage to ourselves - that day will seal the doom of honest administration in any country. This is not the place for that; this is the place for public service. It is indeed a pity that proper conventions have not been established.
If we are unable to support the proposal, and if we have to support the amendment, it is because we do not have confidence in the present administration that has been formed for the purpose of carrying on the Government of this Country.