HL Deb 28 February 1848 vol 96 cc1384-8

, in moving the Third Reading of this Bill, said that after the discussion which had taken place, both on the second reading, and on going into Committee, it would be almost superfluous, were he at that stage to occupy their Lordships' attention. He would, however, take that opportunity of stating, that he did not propose to call on their Lordships to alter in any way the vote to which they had come the other night. At the same time, he believed it was the opinion of persons very learned in such matters, that the Amendment would not completely effect the object which those noble Lords had in view who proposed it. It could not be doubted that the Court of this country, and Ministers of this country, had had repeated communications with the Court of Rome and the Sovereigns of the Roman States. One remarkable instance occurred in the reign of Queen Anne—a Sovereign remarkable for her attachment to Protestantism, and to the Church of England in particular—when an Envoy was sent to the Pope, on which occasion the ceremony of kissing his toe was dispensed with.


wished to state, that the vote which he gave the other night on this Bill was not in consequence of any change of opinion on his part on the subject of the clause in question. He wished it to be distinctly understood, that he differed wholly from the noble Lord on the cross benches, and his Friends, who seemed to think it desirable that an ambassador from Rome should unite in himself the character of a diplomatic agent and that of a member of a religious order of the Church of Rome. His own opinion was entirely different, for he thought grave consequences might arise from such an occurrence. Although his opinion remained unchanged on that point, what passed during the debate convinced him that the Amendment did place an anomalous and unpleasant limitation on the Royal prerogative, and that was his only reason for giving the vote which he did on that occasion.


, although not intending to offer any opposition to the third reading of the Bill, wished to take the present opportunity of making one or two observations. In this Bill, the Sovereign with whom it was proposed to enter into communication was styled the "Sovereign of the Roman States." Now, he confessed he entertained a strong objection to that description. He thought it sophistical altogether to attempt to separate the temporal character of that Sovereign from his spiritual character; and he felt quite certain that it could not be carried into effect. He thought it would be better, if in the first clause the object of the Bill was described to be so to enable Her Majesty to establish diplomatic relations with the "Court of Rome," meaning thereby the "Sovereign." The description "Sovereign of the Roman States," was an unusual and needless circumlocution, and it was less respectful to the Sovereign, if it was meant to evade giving him his proper title. When a Sovereign accredited a Minister to another Sovereign, whom he wished to treat with respect, he addressed him with his usual and proper title, and the Pope ought to be styled "Most Holy Father;" whereas if he was to be considered only a temporal Sovereign, Her Majesty would have to address him "Sir, my Brother." He saw no reason why, in the last clause, instead of calling him "Sovereign of the Roman States," he should not be called "Pope." He had been called the "Pope" over and over again. In the Treaty of Vienna, which was ratified by George III., he was called the "Pope;" and there was no reason why the same title should not be again used. Although it was possible that the Bill before their Lordships might be productive of some advantages, he could not help thinking it would be attended with much inconvenience. If the Bill was not intended to facilitate the dealing of this country with Her Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, it would be positively useless and objectionable. But the noble Marquess professed that the measure had nothing to do with Ireland, but that it was introduced entirely in consequence of the state of Italy. Now, he (the Earl of Aberdeen) thought that could scarcely be correct, because a similar project was entertained many years ago; and if it was, he would most strongly protest against its adoption, for in his opinion it would be far better to abstain from any interference in the affairs of Italy; and it was evident from the instructions which had been laid on the table, addressed to the Lord Privy Seal, that it was not absolutely necessary to have an accredited Minister at the Court of Rome to enable the Government of this country to communicate with the Pope. It was true, it might give this country the means of promoting the progress of revolution in Italy; but at the same time our interference in Italy had already been the means of creating great distrust and alarm in the minds of those whom it professed not to wish to injure or disturb. He saw nothing in the present state of Italy to justify this measure. With respect to the state of Ireland, the Bill might give this country facilities which it did not at present possess. But difficulties existed even with respect to that country. Let their Lordships recollect what took place with respect to the Irish colleges. What would this country have done, supposing a British Minister had been at Rome at that time? The Court of Rome would have protested against the measure, and the Government of this country must either have abandoned its intention or still exercised its power. He (the Earl of Aberdeen) could only say that if a beneficial measure had been proposed for the welfare and peace of Ireland, and the Court of Rome had thought fit to counteract the good intentions of the Legislature, he should have been very much disposed to advise Her Majesty to recall Her Minister from that Court. It should be borne in mind that the predecessor of the present liberal Pope gave no opposition to the establishment of these colleges, and that no difficulty was found in their establishment; but that the opposition had arisen since the accession of this European reformer. In conclusion, the noble Earl said he thought that it would be more rational and consistent to use the words "Court of Koine," in the first part of the Bill, and that instead of calling him the "Sovereign of the Roman States," in the latter part, he should be called "Pope."


did not think it necessary to enter into any discussion on the subject of this measure, especially as the noble Earl had stated that it was not his intention to oppose the Bill. He thought, however, that the remarks of the noble Earl were founded on a misunderstanding of some observations which he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had made on a previous occasion; when he had stated that her Majesty was incapacitated by law from entering into spiritual communication with the Court of Rome. The noble Earl had observed that the communion of the Lord Privy Seal (the Earl of Minto) with the Court of Rome had excited the distrust of Foreign Powers. He begged most emphatically to deny that such expressions of distrust had reached Her Majesty's Government. The noble Earl stated that he knew such distrust had been expressed. He (the Marquess of Lansdowne) could not take upon himself to assert that such distrust had not been ex-pressed, because he had not penetrated into the counsels of the States to which the noble Earl referred, as the noble Earl himself had done; but he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) would undertake to assert that, if such distrust had been entertained, it must have been kept a profound secret, for it had never been communicated to Her Majesty's Government. He might observe, with reference to the expression, "Sovereign of the Roman States," which had been objected to by the noble Earl, that that expression had not been originally used in the Bill; but it was introduced at the suggestion of the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington), who had given much consideration to the subject. It was stated by a noble Earl, who had ample opportunities of ascertaining the views of the Court of Rome, that this expression would be acceptable to that Court; and as, on such authority, he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had not hesitated to accept the term, so, notwithstanding the objection of the noble Earl, he did not hesitate to retain it. He (the Marquess of Lansdowne) understood that the Pope was known in Italy as the Sovereign of the Roman States, and that that title was recognised by the Italian States; and, having adopted that term, he conceived that Her Majesty would conduct any intercourse which might be held with the Court of Rome in such manner and terms as might seem befitting between the Sovereign of this country and the Sovereign of the Roman States.

Bill read 3a and passed.

House adjourned.

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