HC Deb 31 March 1865 vol 178 cc568-70

, in rising to put the question of which he had given notice, was met by loud and derisive cheers from Members below the gangway. Sir, this is not the first occasion upon which I have been met in the same manner. I beg, by way of explanation of the question I am about to ask, to refer hon. Members to the 162nd volume of Hansard, page 1183, April 28, 1861. I now beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the attention of the Government has been directed to a Speech recently made in the Senate of France by the Cardinal de Bonnechose, and to the articles in the public press, especially the Journal des Débats, thereon, which appear to contemplate that, under certain circumstances, the Pope may intend to reside within the United Kingdom; and whether, considering the tenor of the Diplomatic Relations Act, and the fact that the Pope cannot divest himself of the attributes, he claims for his office; and the relation, in which certain Roman Catholic ecclesiastics and others, claiming the privileges of British subjects, appear to believe that they stand towards the Pope, it is the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, that it is expedient, with a view to the internal harmony and to the external peace of this Country, that the Pope should be invited or permitted to reside within the United Kingdom?


Sir, with regard to the first part of the question of the hon. Gentleman, I may say that I have every day so many things to read, and so much to write, and so many persons to see, that I am unable to follow up, as other persons may do, what passes in foreign assemblies, or what appears in foreign papers, and therefore my attention was not called to the speech to which the hon. Gentleman refers till this afternoon, when, driving down to the House, I had the opportunity of reading an extract of what was alleged to have been said by the Cardinal de Bonnechose. I may say, in passing, that I am sorry to see that that rev. prelate described England as the natural enemy of France. One may be excused for thinking that he is not a proper judge in these matters. I have not seen the article in the Journal des Débats. All I can say is that the question of the hon. Gentleman anticipates the future, and implies a decision on future events, which are at present involved in great doubt. The hon. Gentleman assumes that at the end of two years, fixed by the Convention of September, the Pope will be obliged to quit Rome. That may be or may not be. But with regard to the latter part of the question, entertaining as Her Majesty's Government do, and as I am sure everybody does, the greatest respect for the Pope personally, and as the head of that great community of Christians, the Catholic Church, we should be glad to show in any proper manner that respect which we feel; but with regard to the Pope's coming and taking up his residence in England, there are so many objections to it which must strike everybody's mind that one may fairly say it would be a political solecism, or rather, I should say, a political anachronism. It is well known, however, from papers that have been laid on the table, that about a year and a half ago, when the question did arise as to the possibility of the Pope having to quit Rome, Mr. Russell, representing the British Government at Rome, stated that if circumstances induced the Pope to seek to establish his residence out of Italy, and if it were convenient and agreeable to him to reside at Malta, every attention would be paid to his comfort, and a suitable residence would be provided for him. That is my answer to the question of the hon. Gentleman.

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