HC Deb 13 July 1885 vol 299 cc431-3

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he will have any objection to lay upon the Table of the House, Copy of the "Record" which, in 1883, the late Prime Minister promised, in consequence of the "prolonged and repeated visits of Mr. Errington to Rome," should be made and kept from time to time, of these proceedings for the purpose of transmission to future Secretaries of State; and also Copy of all Memoranda and Correspondence in connection with the "irregular communications" made by the Foreign Office or any Member or Members of Her Majesty's late Government, through Mr. Errington or any Other "recommended" agent, to any member or agent of the Papal Court, especially with reference to the appointment to the Archbishopric of Dublin?


I am informed the record alluded to in this Question consists of some letters which have been left in the Office evidently for the inspection of the Secretary of State. As there is no current business conducted at present by the Foreign Office to which they can possibly refer, Lord Salisbury has not thought it necessary to examine them. If they contain a record of any confidential communications, these could, of course, only be published with the consent of the person to whom or by whom they were made.


Arising out of the answer, might I ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs if he can inform the House whether Mr. Erring-ton, as a matter of fact, communicated or conveyed, at the request of the late Government, any communication of any kind whatever to any of the officials of the Papal Court at the request of any Member of the late Government respecting the appointment to the Archbishopric of Dublin, and, if so, what was the nature of it?


I have not seen these communications, nor do I mean to read them if I do see them. I believe that is also the present intention of Lord Salisbury; and, therefore, under these circumstances, it is impossible for me to give any information with respect to the contents of the letters.


Then I will ask the late Prime Minister whether, in view of the answer just given by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who, I presume, has had a consultation with Lord Salisbury, he will have any objection to placing on the Table of the House a copy of the communications referred to, or whether he considers it to be consistent with his duty still to persist in suppressing and concealing from the House and from the people of Ireland the nature of the irregular communications which passed between the Court of Rome and the author of "Vaticanism?"


I have some difficulty in gathering the effect of the hon. Gentleman's Question; but I think I can so far relieve him from any necessity of prosecuting the subject further in connection with myself by saying that I know nothing whatever of these communications.