by MONITOR
THERE may not be many votes in it but if The Guardian is to be believed a proposal to end the 300 year bar against a Catholic sitting on the British throne is likely to be in Labour's manifesto for the 2010 election. The newspaper has been campaigning on this issue for almost a decade and yesterday reported that a positive recommendation will soon be in Gordon Brown's in-tray. Although many may think there would be more important issues for Labour to tackle in a fourth term of office it is a fact that Britain's claims to be a tolerant and diverse nation are not helped by a law passed in 1701 that keeps anyone but a Protestant off the throne. On accession a monarch has to vow “to maintain the true profession of the Gospel and the Protestant religion established by law”. Although objections to this exclusion have always come from Catholics it is obviously the case that Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others also come under the ban. A second reform that may be included in any new legislation is provision for the first-born daughter of the monarch to be heir to the throne instead of being overtaken, so to speak, by any later-born son. This would be a popular change and answer the possibly valid criticism of those who say that existing practices are probably contraventions of the Sex Discrimination Act and Human Rights Act. If the Conservatives win the next election, would they adopt these reforms?