By a Special Correspondent
Liberals are urging the repeal of the Act of Settlement, which prevents a Catholic from becoming monarch, or anyone in line of accession to the Throne from marrying a Catholic.
The Liberal Party Council, the party's governing body, meeting in Stoke-on-Trent last Saturday, included this call in a composite motion on Northern Ireland.
Proposing the motion, Mr Peter Emerson, a member of the Ulster Liberal Party Executive, said: "There are attitudes of bigotry in England which enforce the bigots of Northern Ireland. It' Britain is to help Northern Ireland, at least first put its own house in order."
He strongly criticised Britain's approach to the Northern Ireland problem and said that during a recent debate in the House of Commons only 13 MPs had taken part. This was an indication of the lack of real determination among MPs to find a lasting solution to the problem.
The Liberal Party Council voted by a large majority for Mr Emerson's motion calling for a conference predominantly representative of Northern Ireland opinion to discuss options on which a constitutional settlement might be based. This conference would "devise an advanced form of democracy" whereby a government representative of various shades of Northern Ireland opinion could be elected.
It would also guarantee constitutional rights and human freedoms to be enshrined in its law.
The council also urged the disestablishment of the Church of England and the severing of all formal relationships between the United Kingdom or its Head of State and the Church of Scotland as a means of taking the Churches out of politics. The Government of the Irish Republic was urged to secularise the State further by separating the institutions of Church and State, and the Republic was also asked to remove from its constitution those clauses which claim sovereignty over the territory of Northern Ireland.
An amendment by Mr Gerry Mulholland, Chairman of the London Liberal Party, himself a Catholic of Irish descent, calling for a united Ireland, was defeated by eight votes after two recounts.