A Catholic MP has called the Bill reforming Britain’s succession laws an “attack” on the Catholic Church because it still forbids Catholics from ascending to the throne.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, MP for North East Somerset, said during a debate in the House of Commons that he would like to amend the Bill to allow a Catholic to become monarch.
Mr Rees-Mogg criticised the Bill in both its content and the speed with which it is being processed. He said the Bill was being “done in a rush as if it is counter-terrorism legislation”. He added: “It is an insult to the nation… to our sovereign and indeed to Parliament.”
Throughout the debate, Mr Rees-Mogg voiced concerns about the implications of allowing royal heirs to marry Catholics considering the legislation stopped a Catholic from becoming monarch. He said, in relation to this dilemma: “By amending the statutes, we are saying that all the provisions are modernised, and that the Act of Settlement and all its anti-Catholic provisions are acceptable in a modern world.”
Sir Gerald Howarth MP ended the debate saying: “There is a paradox in the situation in which we find ourselves. The Government are seeking to end part of a discriminatory law, and yet have resurrected rather a lot of hurt.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “The current law says that our monarch can’t be married to a Catholic. This legal ban doesn’t apply to any other faith.”
He added: “Today we do not support laws which discriminate on either religious or gender grounds. They have no place in modern Britain, and certainly not in our monarchy.”
Mr Clegg proposed the Bill to amend what he termed the “bygone laws” enabling a female first-born heir to be superseded in line to the throne by her younger brothers.