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Richard III (Reburial)

Volume 580: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2014

3. With reference to the statement by the Under-Secretary of State for Justice in Westminster Hall on 12 March 2013, Official Report, column 30WH, that his Department would facilitate a meeting between people from York and others with the university of Leicester to discuss the arrangements for reburial of the mortal remains of King Richard III, when that meeting will take place and which Minister or official from his Department will attend it. (903841)

As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, arrangements for the meeting were put on hold in the light of litigation brought by the Plantagenet Alliance Ltd. The judicial review was heard by the Administrative Court on 13 and 14 March, and I look forward to receiving its judgment.

I understand the reason for the delay, but it is self-evident to me that a decision about the burial of a former Head of State of this country should be taken by the Government of the day, not delegated—as in the case of King Richard III—to archaeologists at Leicester university. Will the Secretary of State give the House an assurance that when the sub judice rule has passed, he will consult widely—including with those from the north of England who believe that King Richard should be reburied in York—before taking a final decision on the basis of advice about where the burial should take place?

Order. The issue is not sub judice. There are ministerial decisions involved, but there is no question of sub judice. I also appeal to the House for a degree of calm and restraint. We are discussing the burial of the mortal remains of a former monarch, to which fact, Mr Brennan, you should pay obeisance.

You are quite right, Mr Speaker, that these issues are not sub judice. Of course, it is hardly surprising that the hon. Member for York Central (Hugh Bayley) is a keen advocate for the city he represents, but I shall not pass further comment on this matter before the court judgment is reached.

I am the hon. Member for Leicester, and I am a keen advocate for my city. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the dig for Richard III was well advertised, and the relevant licence granted by the Ministry of Justice was very specific that, should Richard be found, his remains should be buried in Leicester?

We are hearing the divisions in the House about an important strategic issue. I fear that I shall stick with my position that it would not be appropriate for me to comment further until the court case has reported.