Holyrood to debate Act of Settlement

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The Scottish Parliament will next week debate the Act of Settlement and express its disappointment at the continuing bar on a Catholic becoming monarch.

The Parliament led calls for an end to the discrimination within the Act of Settlement with a unanimous vote in 1999 for the bar on a Catholic becoming monarch to be lifted.

Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie lodged a motion for debate following the agreement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting last month to remove discrimination on the grounds of gender or marriage.

The motion has attracted support from individual members of the SNP, Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party and will take place on Wednesday evening.  The Parliament’s calls were rejected by the previous Labour Government.

Speaking ahead of the debate Mr Eadie said:

“The Act of Settlement is a centuries old anachronism and it is a deep disappointment that while some discrimination is being removed the steps have not been put in place to end the bar on a Catholic becoming monarch.

“I welcome the decision to end discrimination on the grounds of gender or marriage.  These steps are long overdue but they do not resolve the problem.

“While there are not that many people with the prospect of becoming monarch there should be no discrimination in any of our institutions on the grounds of religion.

“The concerns of other faiths could certainly be met, as they have been in the case of marriage and gender and I hope all parties in the Scottish Parliament will once again endorse this call to lift the bar and end this discrimination.

“The former Tory MSP Lord James Douglas Hamilton had a proud record on this issue and the Tories joined with the Scottish Parliament in 1999 to demand an end to discrimination in the Act of Settlement.  I would be disappointed if being in government in London prevented the Conservatives supporting this motion.

“The Act of Settlement enshrines discrimination at the heart of the UK establishment.  No one should be disbarred from taking part in any section of our national life because of their religion and I hope the parliament will take the opportunity on Wednesday to make that clear.”

The motion to be debated in Parliament is below:

Motion S4M-01191 – Jim Eadie (Edinburgh Southern) (Scottish National Party) : Act of Settlement

That the Parliament welcomes the proposed reforms to the laws on succession for the monarchy announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia, which will remove discrimination on the grounds of gender and also ensure that in future the monarch will be free to marry a person of the Catholic religion; views with deep disappointment and incredulity the fact that these reforms stop short of ending the bar on a Catholic becoming monarch; believes that the discrimination contained in the Act of Settlement 1701 has no place in modern society; welcomes the work of all groups and organisations tackling discrimination in Edinburgh and across Scotland, and affirms its view that participation in any aspect of national life should not be disbarred on the grounds of religion.