MPs warned not to squabble over resting place of King Richard III


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Indy Politics

MPs should not squabble over the final resting place of King Richard III, the Commons was told today - ahead of a debate on the issue next week.

Sir Tony Baldry, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, said convention dictates bodies should be reburied in the nearest suitable church - in this case, Leicester Cathedral.

The remains of Richard III were uncovered by a team from Leicester University last year, and they are currently holding onto the body ahead of a reinterment ceremony.

Labour's York Central MP Hugh Bayley has called for the king to be buried in York and will lead an adjournment debate on the issue on Tuesday.

He told the Commons today: "In October when we last discussed this matter, which was before it had been established the remains were those of King Richard, you said once those tests are concluded, the nature, place and marking of any reinterment will need to be seriously considered.

"I said at the time those were wise words, that it would be wrong to bicker in the Commons about the burial place.

"Do you agree the matter should now be considered by experts, taking account of King Richard's own wishes expressed during his life, churchmen who don't have a vested interest being in York or Leicester and all other interested parties so a decision could be made?"

Sir Tony replied: "I suggest these are issues you need to put to ministers in the Ministry of Justice in your adjournment debate on Tuesday.

"But, so far as the Church is concerned we believe in a situation such as this, remains should be reburied in the nearest possible church which is, as it happens, Leicester Cathedral."

Tory Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) said: "Unfortunately, Richard III did not have much time to plan his own funeral. I don't think he would have been much worried about where he was buried but he did live and die a Catholic.

"So in his funeral, can there not be some aspect of Catholicism to represent his life's work?"

Mr Baldry replied: "Every Sunday, I say I believe in one holy Catholic church and I think the more serious point is whatever service takes place at Leicester Cathedral, I'm quite sure the dean of Leicester will want to involve representatives of the local Roman Catholic Church.

"Indeed one wants to try and ensure that such an event as the respectful reburial of an English king is carried out in a way which does not cause controversy but is done in a way which is respectful and which will accord with the wishes of the whole community."