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Monday, November 8, 1999 Published at 15:05 GMT

UK Politics

MP calls for end to royal Catholic ban

The Act of Settlement bars Catholics from the throne

A MP has tabled a House of Commons motion calling for the reform of the centuries old law which discriminates against Catholics.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish National Party MP and MSP for Perth, wants parts of the 18th century Act of Settlement to be repealed.

The act prevents a Catholic ascending the throne, and forbids the heir to the throne marrying a Catholic.

'Drive for change'

At the weekend two Conservative peers said they will present a bill to the Lords which would amend the act.

Former Solicitor General and Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, and former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, said they will present a bill in the new session of Parliament.

[ image: Roseanna Cunningham:
Roseanna Cunningham: "Demand for change"
Last week, Cardinal Thomas Winning, the leader of Scotland's Catholics, called the act an "insult" to Catholics.

The motion follows the wording of the Scottish Parliamentary motion tabled on 1 September, which has attracted 40 signatures.

Ms Cunningham said: "The pressure for change to the Act of Settlement has been focused in the Scottish Parliament.

"The drive for change in Scotland is leading the UK agenda, and that is a significant achievement for the Scottish Parliament."

Prime Minister Tony Blair had stressed that there are no plans to alter the Act of Settlement.

She said the motion was intended to enable MPs of all parties to join the campaign for repeal.

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, had already signed the motion, she said.

Ms Cunningham added: "Downing Street's behaviour over the Act of Settlement has been deplorable - giving out conflicting and contradictory messages from day to day.

"Both the Scottish Parliament and Westminster motions can put clarity and the demand for change in place of the government's confusion."

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