Royal succession law change bid fails

A PARLIAMENTARY move to end discrimination against Roman Catholics and women in the rules of succession to the throne have been was blocked by the Government.

Graham Dines

A PARLIAMENTARY move to end discrimination against Roman Catholics and women in the rules of succession to the throne have been was blocked by the Government.

Although the Prime Minister has admitted he has opened talks with Buckingham Palace over laws preventing heirs to the throne from marrying Roman Catholics, he has gone on record as saying there were no “easy answers”' to changing the 1701 Act of Settlement.

Catholics are from succeeding to the throne, which even prevents minor members of royalty from converting to or marrying into Catholic Church.


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The law dates from the time when the protestant succession was established. If the law is to change, it must be approved by all countries of countries in which the British royal family is head of state. Constitutional talks must also take place because the monarch is also head of the Church of England and Church of Scotland.

There is more support for removing primogeniture of men in the succession. If the law is changed while the Queen is on the throne, the Princess Royal will move ahead of her younger brother Andrew and Edward and their children, to become fourth in line until such time as Prince William marries and has children of his own.

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Justice Secretary Jack Straw told MPs that today's attempts to change the law, spearheaded by Liberal Democrat Evan Harris, was not the appropriate vehicle for such a major change. Altering the constitution would have to be promoted by the Government, and not a backbench MP.

Mr Straw was still speaking when time ran out at 2.30pm and the Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill now stands no chance of being enacted.

Dr Harris told the Commons: “This is a welcome opportunity to debate what I think most people would consider to be outrageous discrimination in our constitution against Roman Catholics and equally unfair treatment of women.” And it was “not acceptable in this day and age”' that the Princess Royal was lower down the line of succession than her younger brothers.

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