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Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Royal succession reform discussed


Gordon Brown has been in discussions with Buckingham Palace over possible reforms to the laws of succession, which would see women having an equal claim to the throne as men, and heirs being allowed to marry Catholics.

The 1701 Act of Settlement states that heirs to the throne lose their right to be the sovereign if they marry a Catholic or convert. It also gives precedence to male heirs.

Deputy Leader of the House, Chris Bryant MP, says the government wants to "get rid of all forms of discrimination in the country" but there is a "complex knitting pattern of legislation" on the rules of succession.

Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris has put forward a private member's bill with the proposals, which will now be discussed in the House of Commons.

Mr Harris explained that opinion polls reveal the motions have the support of the majority of people. He also said that amendments "wouldn't be that complicated" for the government.

Lord Rees Mogg agreed with Evan Harris that the changes to the law would be popular but suggested that difficulties might arise in getting consent from other Commonwealth countries such as Australia.

He goes on to examine the relationship between the Catholic church and the Church of England, saying that most Catholics recognise that the "Church of England's does an important job for the Christian community".

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