HC Deb 28 March 1873 vol 215 cc295-6

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If there be any objection to lay upon the Table Copy of the Instructions sent to the British Minister at the Court of Rome with regard to the Religious Corporations, and to state on what grounds Great Britain claims to interfere?


Sir, the instructions to Sir Augustus Paget and to Mr. Clarke Jervoise from the Foreign Office, with the view of obtaining immu- nity from confiscation for such foreign religious establishments as this country is interested in, were laid before Parliament in February, 1871, being included in the "Correspondence on the Affairs of Rome for 1870–71." In this Correspondence the grounds were shown on which the various establishments base their claims for protection, and on which, in consequence, the instructions were given to Her Majesty's Representative. I may remind the hon. Member and the House that when the material interests of British subjects require friendly representations being made in their behalf to foreign Governments, such representations, when supported, should the occasion require, by the authority and opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, are made by Her Majesty's Government irrespective of class and of creed. Such a course has been followed in the present instance, and, with the concurrence of their Legal Advisers, Her Majesty's Government have addressed instructions to Sir Augustus Paget in the interests of those parties who were under the impression that they wore threatened with expropriation of those establishments in which they are interested by the application to them of the provisions of the Bill now under consideration by the Italian Chamber; the question is still pending, and the Bill has not yet been passed. I cannot undertake to lay upon the Table any additional Papers upon this subject; but if the hon. Gentleman will refer to a letter signed by Mr. Hammond from the Foreign Office on February 22 in this year, and which appeared in The Pall Mall Gazette of February 27, I think he will find in the contents of that letter an exhaustive résumé of the present state of this question.