HC Deb 08 August 1851 vol 118 cc1963-6

wished to ask the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs several questions of which he had given him notice. He begged first to ask whether, in the event of the members of the Church of England being disposed—as it was said they were—to erect a church in Rome, Her Majesty's Government were prepared to give the Consular protection to such church? Also, whether the Government had heard of any application which had been made to the Spanish Government for a Protestant burial place in Madrid; and, if so, whether the grant of such Protestant burial ground had been accompanied by such conditions as were unfit for a civilised nation to impose, and as it would be unbecoming Her Majesty's Government to accept? He wished further to ask, whether the Government were prepared to lay on the table the papers relating to the case of Captain Pakenham, who was exiled from Florence as a Protestant, and of Mr. Healey, a Protestant, who had been compelled to leave Rome?


would first reply to the two last questions put by the hon. Baronet. There was a correspondence now going on between Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of Rome and Florence with regard to the cases of Mr. Healey and Captain Pakenham; but as that correspondence was still in progress, he should not feel it consistent with his duty to lay any part of it upon the table. With regard to the first question of the hon. Baronet relative to the Consular Act, wherever there was a Consul or Vice-Consul of this country, the Secretary of State was empowered, on the application of the British inhabitants, to extend to them the benefits of that Act, which consisted in this—that a chaplain might be appointed, whose salary should be provided for, in the first place, by the subscriptions of the resident community, the Secretary of State being empowered to give a sum equal to that subscribed from the money voted for Consular services. The British residents at Rome had had a chapel for some time—[Sir R. INGLIS: A granary]—and if they applied to be allowed to place themselves under the provisions of the Consular Act, he was not aware of any reason why their application should be refused. Of course, it must be understood that that Act did not enable Her Majesty's Government to exercise any authority with regard to such chapels other than might be consistent with the laws of the country in which they were established, With respect to the burial ground at Madrid, by the ancient treaties between this country and Spain, British subjects in Spain were entitled to construct burial grounds. A long correspondence had taken place with regard to a burial ground which for some time past the English residents had had at Madrid, but which was too near the centre of the city to be in conformity with the recent laws for extramural interments adopted by the Government of Spain. The British Government had been in correspondence with the Government of Spain on the subject of changing their burial ground for a now one, and they had at last gained the necessary permission for that purpose; but he was sorry to say, that that permission had undoubtedly been accompanied by conditions which were represented by the Spanish Government as arising out of the laws of Spain in regard to religious opinions, but which Her Majesty's Government had learned with considerable pain and regret. He had promised his hon. Friend (Sir R. Inglis) that he would lay on the table such part of that correspondence as he thought might be interesting to the House, and he now begged to present it.


begged to inquire who was now the official organ of communication at Rome for Her Majesty's Government? Was it Mr. Petre or Mr. Freeborn? Was Mr. Consul Freeborn the recognised organ of our Government?


in reply, said, that Mr. Petre was attached to the mission at Florence, and held a diplomatic character, which was not abated by the circumstance of the vacancy in the Florentine mission. He was therefore the diplomatic organ. Mr. Freeborn, the Consul, was organ for all matters pertaining to the Consular department; and, in the absence of Mr. Petre on leave, Mr. Freeborn would be the natural and only organ of communication.


wished to know whether the sanction of Her Majesty's Government had been given to an ordinance of the Government of Malta, referring to the Church of Rome as the dominant reliligion in that island?


was understood to state, that the ordinance was not yet law, that it had not officially reached the Secretary of State, and that there were certain alterations of the penal code proposed, some of which Her Majesty's Government could not approve of.

Subject dropped.