HC Deb 01 March 1900 vol 79 cc1424-5

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies will he explain why, in view of his alleged decision to amend the Waste Land Ordinances of Ceylon, the Ceylon Government has been permitted to go on dealing with thousands of acres of land under the old law; whether the amending law will contain a retrospective clause so as to include the extent of acres already noticed; will he explain on what grounds Mr Francis do Silva Abeyawardene, the Muduliyar of the Welaboda Pathen of the Matora district, was summarily dismissed from office without being furnished with a copy of the evidence against him; and was this dismissal in accordance with the colonial rules and regulations.


As regards the first two paragraphs of the hon. Member's question, he is aware, from the correspondence laid before Parliament last year, that the Waste Lands Ordinances of 1897 and 1889 are in operation in Ceylon, and that I have directed that the latter Ordinance is to be amended in certain respects. The amendments in question are not such as to render it necessary or even desirable to suspend action under these Ordinances. I have no reason to suppose that any action which may have been taken since the Ordinance of 1899 was brought into operation is contrary to the spirit or the letter of the amendments which I have directed to be made in the law; but I have asked the Governor of Ceylon for a report on this point. As regards the third and fourth paragraphs of the hon. Member's question, Mr. Abeyawardene was dismissed from his post of Muduliyar because on the 14th February, 1898, he sent for a witness and endeavoured to intimidate him by threats from giving evidence for the Crown in the matter of certain forged deeds relating to land, upon which he had already given evidence. The charges were communicated to Mr. Abeyawardene, and his defence fully considered. He did not, however, ask for a copy of the evidence, nor did he bring forward any witnesses. The whole of the evidence was sent to me, and I consider that it proves his guilt conclusively. The case was dealt with strictly in accordance with that clause of the colonial rules and regulations which deals with the dismissal of officials of his status.