Bill Aims to End Ban on Catholics Taking the Throne

Member of Parliament Challenges Act of Settlement

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LONDON, DEC. 19, 2001 ( A Labor member of Parliament will introduce a private member´s bill today to try to repeal the 300-year-old Act of Settlement which bars Catholics from succession to the British throne, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Kevin McNamara´s 10-minute rule bill would also amend the 153-year-old Treason Felony Act to make it no longer a criminal offense to call for the abolition of the monarchy.

Bills introduced under the 10-minute rule have little or no chance of becoming law, but the procedure allows backbench members to raise important issues in Parliament.

McNamara, the member of Parliament for Hull North, argues that the two acts — which are cornerstones of the constitution — clash with the United Kingdom´s obligations under the European convention on human rights, which guarantees freedom of belief and freedom of speech.

The move comes as the Guardian newspaper prepares to go to the court of appeal to argue that the Treason Felony Act 1848 is incompatible with Article 10 of the European convention, which protects the right to free speech.

The act makes it an offense punishable by life imprisonment to advocate ending the monarchy, even by peaceful means. The appeal is expected to be heard next February.

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