Ban on former Catholic priests entering British Parliament to be repealed
Ministers are to rush legislation through parliament to repeal a series of anti-Catholic laws preventing former priests from sitting in the British House of Commons.
The host of ecclesiastical acts dating back more than 400 years to the Reformation will be overturned after a Labour candidate in a safe seat discovered that, if elected, technically he would be barred from entering Westminster.
David Cairns, selected by the local party to defend a 13,040 majority in the Greenock and Inverclyde constituency, has lobbied for the law to be changed after learning that he would be unable to represent the constituency, because until 1994 he had been a priest. Any former clergymen ordained by a bishop are prevented from representing parliamentary constituencies, except those ordained by the Church of England after an exception was made in 1870.
The anti-Catholic laws were adopted in an era when discrimination was widespread.
Bruce Kent, the former chairman of CND and an ex-priest, would have been banned from the Commons if he had won when he stood in Oxford for Labour.
Mr Cairns, 34, told The Guardian: "I'm very pleased the government has decided to sort this out. I have always believed it is not the business of the state to decide the members of which religious denominations can and cannot be in the House of Commons."