Queen consents to succession debate

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Indy Politics
The Queen has given her consent for peers to debate a proposal that royal daughters as well as sons should be able to succeed to the throne.

Lord Archer of Weston- super-Mare put forward the motion, which would allow a future eldest child of Prince William to be able to inherit the crown regardless of its gender.

The Lord Steward of the Household, crossbencher Viscount Ridley, announced the decision at the start of business in the Lords yesterday, though Lord Archer was not in the House.

However, there is too little parliamentary time left before the general election for the Throne Bill to stand a chance of becoming law.

It is opposed by a number of peers, including the Queen's former private secretary, Lord Charteris of Amisfield. When Lord Archer asked the Lords to request the Queen's consent in December, they took the rare step of contesting his move but it was approved by 74 votes to 53.

A similar measure to allow eldest children, regardless of gender, to inherit peerages was blocked in December 1994.

The Queen's consent for Lord Archer's Bill to be debated does not necessarily indicate Royal support for the measure, but the Palace is understood to prefer that such a far-reaching change should be the result of a government Bill rather than backbench legislation.

The Lords' convention is to give all Bills, whether government or backbench, a formal first reading and an unopposed second reading and not to block backbench measures from progressing to the Commons.

If opponents of Lord Archer's Bill do force a vote during the measure's later stages in the Lords, the government and opposition front benches are likely to abstain, while allowing their peers a free vote.