HC Deb 14 May 1847 vol 92 cc854-6

rose to ask the question of which he had given notice, namely, —Whether it were the intention of Her Majesty's Government to establish diplo- matic relations between this country and the Court of Rome? He thought it would be highly advantageous that this country should have a resident Minister at the Court of Rome, with relation to questions both of a commercial and territorial character. It had until recently been doubted whether, if we were disposed to endeavour to establish a more friendly footing with that Court, such a measure would not be objected to on the opposite side. But a change had now come over the feelings of the Papacy, and the recently elected Pope, having adopted the maxim that the internal relations of his State should be regulated rather by political than by religious feelings, and having given a very hospitable reception to the Ambassador of the Porte, there was no doubt that he could not feel otherwise than honoured at receiving at his Court the representative of this country. There could be no doubt of the friendly feelings of this country towards the present Pope, whether or not they took any steps to establish relations with him on a more friendly footing, such as became the interests and character of this country.


I certainly concur with the hon. Member in all that he has stated of the liberal policy of the present Pope, and I believe that it would be his wish to see more formal diplomatic relations established between this country and the State of Rome. I have seen, with very great pleasure, the course which the present Pope has pursued; and I think it will tend much to increase the happiness of the people of Italy. I have no hesitation in saying, that I think it would be desirable that these more formal relations should be established; but the question is one both of law and of policy: in point of law exceedingly intricate; and in point of policy likely to excite considerable discussion. The law, as it at present stands, leaves a difficulty; there are expressions and words in the Act of Parliament to which it is difficult to give a legal interpretation. Therefore, as the law at present stands, I do not think it would be safe to advise Her Majesty to send a Minister expressly with credentials to Rome. With respect to introducing a Bill on this subject to make the law more clear, I do not think it would be advisable, at the end of a Session, with a great deal of other business before us, to introduce a Bill on so important a subject. I cannot tell the hon. Gentleman that we intend to introduce a Bill; but it is a subject on which I hope we may legislate in future; and I do think it desirable that diplomatic relations should be established between this country and Rome.