HC Deb 21 February 1966 vol 725 c29
56. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will now make arrangements to raise the status of Her Majesty's mission to the Holy See from that of a legation to an embassy.

Mr. M. Stewart

I do not consider that it would be appropriate to make this change at the present time.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

What possible justification can there be for this continual discrimination against the Holy See, particularly in view of its obvious diplomatic importance, as evidenced in particular by the recent papal initiative in Vietnam?

Mr. Stewart

It is well known that Her Majesty's Government are very well aware of the valuable part to be played by the Holy See in international affairs. However, the hon. Gentleman will also know that there is a great deal of variety in the practice of representation at the Vatican adopted by various Governments, and I believe that for the present we have the right answer.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any statutory bar, such as the Act of Settlement, to this suggested change of status?

Mr. Stewart

I believe not.

Sir W. Teeling

Since we have already got a legation there, would it not be far more practical if we had some form of legation in London in return instead of just having an apostolic delegate?

Mr. Stewart

That really is another question.

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