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Old Parliament

The Old Parliament Building, is the building that houses the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. Situated in the Colombo fort facing the sea, it is in close proximity to the President’s House, Colombo. The building houses the island’s legislature for 53 years until the New Parliament Complex was opened at Sri Jayawardenepura in 1983. It is next to the General Treasury Building.

The Neo-Baroque-style building was built during the British colonial era to house the Legislative Council of Ceylon. It was built on an idea of Sir Henry McCallum, which led to a proposal made by a committee to construct the new building for the Secretariat, Council Chamber and Government offices on reclaimed land at the northern end of Galle Face’ were accepted by the Government in 1920. The chief architect of the Public Works Department, A. Woodson was responsible for the design of the building. The initial estimate of Rs 400,000 for the scheme was later revised by the Public Works Advisory Board to Rs 450,000, taking into account the extra expenses involved.

The building was opened on January 29, 1930 by Governor Sir Herbert Stanley, as a year later it was taken over by the State Council of Ceylon with its establishment. The State Council here till 1947, when the House of Representatives was formed with the onset of self-rule. Following the formation of the republic line 1972 the National State Assembly met here till it was renamed as the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1977. Parliament moved out to the new complex in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte in 1983. Thereafter it became the home to the Presidential Secretariat. The building and the former Council Chamber (formally known as the Parliament Chamber) is the venue for many state functions year round. The Letter of credence of incoming ambassadors and high commissioners are accepted by the President here.

The British Coat of Arms adorned the top of the building face till 1948, when it was replaced by the arms of the Dominion of Ceylon and was once again replaced in 1972 with the arms of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.