HC Deb 30 July 1872 vol 213 cc153-60

rose to call attention to the withdrawal from Class 5, Vote I, in the Estimates for Diplomatic Services for the current year, of the Vote for the expenses of the Diplomatic Mission to the Vatican; and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, the omission of the Vote for Diplomatic Services at Rome, in page 343 of the Estimates, was calculated to mislead Parliament into the belief that no Vote was required this year for the Diplomatic Mission to the Vatican. The hon. Gentleman said, that last year the sum of £800 was voted for the Secretary of the Embassy at the Vatican, with £200 for house rent, and this year he intended to ask the Government what advantage this country derived from the double Mission to Rome; but finding that the Vote had been omitted from the Estimates, he withdrew the Question which he had placed on the Notice Paper. When, however, he spoke to the noble Lord the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the subject, the noble Lord informed him with great candour that the Vote was not really withdrawn. Mr. Jervoise, our Diplomatic Agent at the Vatican, was appointed to that post in 1870; but the noble Lord informed him that the appointment was only temporary, and that the salary he should receive as clerk in the Foreign Office—namely, £530—had already been voted under the head "Foreign Office," while an additional allowance of £270 had also been voted under "Incidental Expenses," and the remaining £200 was paid, as it was paid to Mr. Odo Russell, his predecessor in Rome, for house rent. The noble Lord also informed him that Mr. Jervoise's stay in Rome was rendered necessary by the refusal of the Pope to hold any diplomatic intercourse with the Diplomatic Agent accredited to the King of Italy. Now, it was a grave question whether this country should continue to maintain diplomatic intercourse with an individual who was not the Sovereign of the Roman States, and whether, in case that course was followed, the Vote for Diplomatic Agency should practically be withdrawn from Parliamentary control. He cared nothing for the religious persuasion of the individual to whom a Diplomatic Agent was sent; but what he objected to was that the responsible Minister of the Crown should have withdrawn the Vote from the cognizance of Parliament, so as to leave the House to suppose that no Vote whatever was required for this Mission. Last Thursday, in answer to a Question, the noble Lord the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had informed him that— The salary of Mr. Clarke Jervoise as a clerk in the Foreign Office, amounting to £530, has been voted under sub-head A of the Vote for the Foreign Office; the additional allowance of £270 has been also voted under sub-head D for incidental expenses in the same Vote for the Foreign Office, and the allowance for house rent, amounting to £200, will be taken out of the Vote for Diplomatic Services under the sub-head P for Special Missions and Services, Mr. Jervoise's appointment at Rome being considered of a special or temporary character. In the Act of Parliament which had been passed in 1848 to regulate our diplomatic intercourse with the Roman States, it was expressly provided that it should be lawful for Her Majesty to establish and maintain diplomatic relations, and to hold diplomatic intercourse with the Sovereign of the Roman States, and it was a grave and important question whether this country could lawfully send a Representative to the Court of an individual who was not now Sovereign of those States. We had a Minister—Sir Augustus Berkeley Paget—at the Court of the King of Italy, who was the Sovereign of the Roman States; but whether our Government had been right or wrong in sending a Diplomatic Agent to the Vatican as well, there could be no doubt that it was highly injudicious and improper to withdraw the Vote from its proper place in the Estimates, and to split it up into three parts, two of which had been already voted without the House knowing anything about it. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the omission of the Vote for Diplomatic Services at Rome, in page 343 of the Estimates, was calculated to mislead Parliament into the belief that no Vote was required this year for the Diplomatic Mission to the Vatican,"—(Mr. Monk,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he hoped, in the few observations he had to address to the House, he should be able to convince the hon. Gentleman that there was no attempt on the part of the Treasury or the Foreign Office to deceive the House in this matter. Had Mr. Jervoise been a regular diplomatic Secretary of Legation or Secretary of Embassy, or even an Attaché, no doubt, his salary would have appeared in the Vote for Diplomatic Services; but that was not the case, and as he received an increase of salary while he performed temporary diplomatic duties, it had been arranged, in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee on Public Accounts, that his salary should be accounted for in the way it had been, the recommendation being in these terms— Where a public officer receives a grant or temporary increase of his fixed salary in respect of special services, we are of opinion that provision should be made accordingly in connection with the Vote in which the fixed salary is charged. In accordance with that recommendation, the Foreign Office received instructions from the Treasury to put down Mr. Jervoise's salary in the Estimates in the way in which it had been put down. The Foreign Office had simply acted under instructions from the Treasury, and the Treasury had acted in accordance with the Report of the Committee on Public Accounts. The Act alluded to permitted Her Majesty to hold diplomatic communications with the Sovereign of the Roman States, and if the Pope had recognized the King of Italy there would have been no further occasion for the services of Mr. Jervoise. But the Pope had not done so, and it was considered that it would be unfair if this country were left without any representative to discharge duties that had hitherto been discharged in connection with the Papal Court. Financially, there was no intention to deceive the House, and next year, if he were in office, he would see that the matter was stated so that it could not be misunderstood.


wished to re-state the legal question. Formerly it was illegal to accredit a Diplomatic Agent to the Pope; then an Act was passed by which power was given to accredit one to the Sovereign of the Papal States. As the Pope had ceased to be a temporal Sovereign, how could we legally accredit a Diplomatic Agent to him? Was Mr. Jervoise acting as a subordinate to Sir Augustus Paget, or had he a separate commission? Did he correspond with the Foreign Office direct, or through Sir Augustus Paget? [Viscount ENFIELD said, they held separate commissions.] Under those circumstances, he wished to know if any similar course had ever been adopted in the case of any other country? At the same time, he would be glad to hear for what purpose Mr. Jervoise was accredited to the Pope. The Government were bound to offer an explanation on these points; and he appealed for one to the Attorney General.


was inclined to think there was something anomalous in the position of Mr. Jervoise; but did not understand that the adoption of the Committee's recommendation was called in question.


said, the recommendation of the Committee was approved at once by the Treasury, which communi- cated with the Foreign Office, and the recommendation was at once acted upon.


said, this was not a question of accounts, but of legality. The Roman Pontiff had ceased to be a Sovereign; therefore he wanted to know why the Government sent a diplomatic representative to him, thus spending public money without Parliamentary sanction, and, by implication, violating an Act of Parliament. Not a word had been said on that point. The appropriation of the money was altogether without the sanction of Parliament. This gentleman (Mr. Jervoise) could not be acting as a clerk in the Foreign Office at the time he was in Rome. If Parliament voted £600 for a clerk in the Foreign Office, Parliament meant that he should sit at his desk, and should not go to Rome as an Envoy to the Pope. So long as the Roman Pontiff reigned in the Roman States, it might have been right that we should be represented there; but the moment he ceased to reign such an act was improper, and he believed illegal. He should, therefore, cordially support the Motion.


assured the hon. Member that clerks in the Foreign Office were constantly detached for special services, and yet continued to be clerks of the Foreign Office, and to draw their salaries. At this moment one was in Washington, engaged on the work of the Treaty, and three were at Geneva; but they did not cease to be clerks in the Foreign Office because the exigencies of the public service induced the Secretary of State to send them to discharge public duties in different parts of the world.


asked what were the relations which this gentleman was to maintain at the Papal Court? Such a Mission was not the work of a Foreign Office clerk, but of a diplomatic representative.


said, it was quite clear that Mr. Jervoise was an unauthorized agent at Rome. The Act of Parliament allowed Her Majesty to send a representative to the Sovereign of the Roman States; but Mr. Jervoise was accredited to one who was not the Potentate of the Roman States, and the appointment was therefore illegal.


observed that no answer had been given to the objection that this Vote sanctioned the accrediting of a Diplomatic Agent to a non-existing Sovereign. Before 1848 it was absolutely unlawful to accredit an English Diplomatic Agent to the Pope of Rome. The Act of 1848 empowered the Queen to accredit a representative not to the Pope of Rome, but to the Sovereign of the Roman States. Now, the Pope had ceased to be the Sovereign of the Roman States, and in point of law he was the subject of the King of Italy, and there appeared to be no useful purpose served by this mission. It had been said that the Pope had not yet acknowledged the Sovereignty of the King of Italy; but if we waited till that time we might wait till the Greek Kalends. Queen Isabella was not likely to acknowledge the sovereignty of King Amadeus; but we did not on that account continue to send a representative to Queen Isabella. Unless he heard from the Attorney General a better reply than had been given by the noble Lord he should regard this Vote as absolutely illegal, and would therefore vote against it.


remarked that the Act to which reference had been made was brought into Parliament as a Bill to enable the Queen of this country to hold relations with the Sovereign Pontiff. There could be no doubt as to who the Sovereign Pontiff was; and the term "Sovereign of the Roman States" was put into the Act by the then Lord Derby in the House of Lords not for the purpose of describing any other person than the Pope, but as a description of the Pope which would not offend the religious susceptibility of many English people. The Queen however was empowered to hold diplomatic relations with a particular person who might be called Pope, Sovereign Pontiff, Bishop of Rome, or Sovereign of the Roman States. He was at that time Sovereign of certain portions of Italy, and although a great deal of that State had been taken from him he remained, within certain very small limits, an independent Sovereign. He believed that in a certain portion of Rome, the Pope was still supreme, and had the power of life and death. He did not pretend to an accurate knowledge on this point; nor was it material for his argument. The claim of the Pope to be an independent Sovereign was exactly what it was before the Act of 1848, and could not depend upon whether he had lost nine-tenths or even nineteen-twentieths of his dominions. Nay, more, Pope Pius IX. was actually the same person with whom the Act of 1848 authorized diplomatic relations. The Act of Parliament which empowered the Queen to hold these relations with the Sovereign of the Roman States eo nomine was in no degree affected because since that time a large portion of his dominions had been taken from him. The importance of a Throne, and of holding diplomatic relations with it, must not be measured by the number of square miles of a country over which it rules; and "the Sovereign of the Roman States" were mere words of description, the person remaining the same.


said, his hon. Friends near him prided themselves on their advocacy of the principle of non-intervention; but the moment what was called "the red rag" of Popery was shaken in their faces the non-intervention principle of hon. Gentlemen vanished. There was one observation, however, which he wished to make, and which would commend itself to the common sense of everyone. Was there a Power in Europe, no matter how antagonistic to the Pope—such as Germany or Russia, that did not acknowledge the status of the Sovereign Pontiff; and, whether possessed of a large dominion or of the Leonine City alone, was there a man in this House who would say that the Pope was not a Power in Europe? It was not befitting, therefore, that this country, containing within it, as it did, so many different religions, should in this age of enlightenment be the only nation in Europe to ignore the fact that there was still a great Power resident in the Leonine City, and should be the first to withdraw the man who had been appointed to maintain diplomatic relations with that Power.


contended that this country would never have sent any diplomatist to an ecclesiastic. It was only because that ecclesiastic happened to be a temporal Sovereign that diplomatic relations had been maintained with him. He, therefore, for one, as representing a Scotch constituency, could not compromise either his constituents or his country by doing anything now to perpetuate those relations.


desired to call attention to the Motion before the House. That Motion was simply a Vote of Censure for the form in which the Vote was laid upon the Table. But the form of the Vote was entirely in pursuance of the recommendations of the Committee.


said, that a great error of judgment had been committed by Her Majesty's Government in the matter. Under the circumstances, however, he would not ask the House to divide; but on the Vote of £200, on which the question might again he raised, he would certainly take the opinion of the House.

And it being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Debate was adjourned till this day.

And it being now five minutes to Seven of the clock the House suspended its sitting.

The House resumed its sitting at Nine of the clock.