HC Deb 23 October 1972 vol 843 c780
35. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations Her Majesty's Minister to the Holy See made to the Vatican on the Irish problem; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Anthony Royle

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had the opportunity to discuss Northern Ireland with His Holiness the Pope during their meeting on Wednesday, 4th October. Her Majesty's Minister to the Holy See keeps the Vatican fully informed about developments in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

While the visit of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the Pope was most welcome, is not the fullest understanding with the Holy See on these grave problems most important? Therefore, is this not a time when the Government might reconsider the status of the British mission?

Mr. Royle

I told the House on 27th March in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) that I am keeping the matter under review. I do not wish to forecast at this stage. Relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Holy See remain cordial, and I am not aware that our Minister to the Holy See is in any way hindered in his activities by his present status.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Does my hon. Friend recall that he and his numerous predecessors in that office have been reviewing this matter for at least six years? Would it be reasonable to expect something to emerge within a reasonable time from this examination in such detail?

Mr. Royle

It would be reasonable, but I do not think it will be possible.