Vicars and Roman Catholic priests are about to be allowed to stand for parliament for the first time in nearly 200 ...
Vicars and Roman Catholic priests are about to be allowed to stand for parliament for the first time in nearly 200 years, according to The Sunday Telegraph (p11).
The clergy were banned from becoming MPs in Scotland and England in the early 1800s, although Anglican bishops can sit in the house of lords and the disqualification has never applied to vicars in the Anglican churches of Wales and Ireland. The government's electoral working party, chaired by home office minister George Howarth, is now to recommend that the ban be lifted, possibly in time for the next election.
Mullahs, rabbis, non-conformist Christians and Buddhist priests can already become MPs throughout the UK.
The proposal was welcome by Stephen Trott, vicar of Broughton, near Northampton, and a member of the executive of the 1,500-member clergy section of the MSF union. He thought the church authorities - which in the past have urged the lifting of the ban - would have to accept the loss of some people to parliament and would not try to prevent them from standing. The position is more difficult for Catholic priests, who are forbidden under church laws from taking elected office in national parliaments.