The public is being urged to back a campaign to scrap a 300-year-old law which prohibits Catholics ascending the throne, ahead of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain next month.
The Coalition Government is currently asking voters to nominate laws which they think restrict civil liberties and should be abolished or amended.
The suggestions will form the basis of the so-called Freedom Bill, announced with much fanfare by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, earlier this year.
At the same time, however, ministers have said that they have no plans to change the Act of Settlement, which also bars members of the Royal family marrying Catholics.
Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP for the Western Isles, has called for a mass online vote for a change in the law, which he denounced as “state sectarianism”, ahead of the Pope’s visit.
Introduced in 1701, the Act of Settlement states that no sovereign “shall profess the Popish religion or shall marry a Papist”.
The exclusion of Catholics was designed to ensure a stable monarchy, after decades of rows over the state religion.
More than three centuries since its inception, it continues to affect the Royal family.
In 1978, Prince Michael of Kent, the Queen’s cousin, lost his place in the line of succession after marrying a Catholic.
Just two years ago, Autumn Kelly, a Canadian and the new wife of Peter Phillips, the Queen’s grandson, renounced her Catholic faith to allow her husband to remain in succession.
Before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron indicated that he would like to see the Act changed.
But within weeks of the coalition taking charge in May, it was announced that there were “no current plans” to amend it.
The Scotsman, here...read more.