Tories ditch reform of monarchy and maintain anti-Catholic bias

Tories ditch reform of monarchy and maintain anti-Catholic bias

By staff writers
6 Jul 2010

In a move which advocates of change say is unsurprising but disappointing, the UK coalition government has dropped plans to reform the monarchy - including ending a ban on Catholic succession to the throne.

Meanwhile, as public spending cuts begin to bite, especially in vulnerable communities, a new report published yesterday (5 July 2010) shows that the UK monarchy remains the most expensive in Europe.

Proposals to reform the succession, which would have given Catholics and women equal rights, were put forward by the Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in 2009.

Talks had began with leaders of 15 Commonwealth countries whose approval would have been required to change the law, according to some constitutional experts.

However last week, Mark Harper, the Conservative minister for political and constitutional reform, told MPs in a written answer: "There are no current plans to amend the laws on succession."

Roman Catholics were banned from the throne by the Act of Settlement of 1701, which ensured that the monarch would remain an Anglican.

The Act declared that the King or Queen must swear to maintain the faith of the established Church of England. It also determined that no one married to a Catholic could succeed to the throne.

Before the election, the Liberal Democrats backed reform on the grounds that the rules of succession discriminate against Catholics and women. But it now seems that they are unwilling to press the issue in government.

Pressure for change has also come from Scotland.

Opponents of the monarchy say that while reform would at least create some degree of parity, the whole system is inherently undemocratic, steeped in unaccountable wealth, and maintains a eugenic system of privilege which is morally indefensible.

With the total cost of the British monarchy estimated to be well over £100 million a year, Republic spokesperson Graham Smith said: "European elected head of states cost a fraction of this official figure."

He continued: "It is clear the monarchy continues to waste many millions of pounds of taxpayers' money when front line services are being threatened"

"The government's plans for reviewing and reforming the monarchy costs must now be brought forward and we must know the details of what this money is spent on, travel costs, money spent on personal luxuries, butlers and dressers," said Mr Smith.

Republic (http://www.republic.org.uk/) campaigns for a democratic alternative to monarchy in the UK.

[Ekk/3]

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