According to new reports Gordon Brown may be preparing to ditch the Act of Settlement, the centuries old English law that bans Catholics from being King or Queen. It was later included as Article 2 in the Treaty of the Union when Scotland lost its independence.
A move that has championed by Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister, said: “I welcome these moves. The Act of Settlement is an 18th-century anachronism that has no place in a modern 21st-century constitution. The SNP first raised the issue over a decade ago, the Scottish parliament united in 1999 to call for this long overdue reform, and I hope the prime minister follows through in early course.”
This is one of latest policy u-turns Gordon Brown has done, frequently stealing SNP policies in the process.
Cynics interpret that this is Gordon Brown’s attempt to try and shore up the Catholic vote for Labour, as its suggested that Catholics are leaving the Labour Party in droves. A blatant piece of electioneering to try and secure a fourth term when the policy will be put before Parliament.
Critics of the move suggest that ending the Act of Settlement may start a movement towards the disestablishment of the Church of England. The UK monarch is Head of the Church of England, and gives an Oath of Ascession to “maintain and preserve the Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Government” in Scotland.
As a result the Church of Scotland is not a state church, as in England. It is entirely free and neither the Westminster or Scottish Parliaments are involved in the Kirk’s appointments.
The question is – how could a Catholic monarch be either the Head of the Church of England or give the Oath of Ascession to Scottish Presbyterianism?
Both would doubtless need to change.
It would see the separation of the Church of England from the state, as the Church of Scotland is.
And although, it is possible that a Catholic monarch could promise to uphold Presbyterianism, and leave the Oath of Ascession unaltered, its far more likely that a new Oath of Ascession would be more inclusive and tolerant to all religions.
Or even scrapped altogether.
For me, I would like religion and the state to be separate.
The Act of Settlement must go. It is an outdated discrimanating law. Not just to catholics but jews, hindus, muslims etc.
And agnostic and athetists. I’d much rather have an athetist monarch personally, I think that would be even-handed to all religions!