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Leaders will not sit side-by-side Brown's civil partnerships call
(about 20 hours later)
The leaders of Britain's three main political parties will not now appear side-by-side in a televised question-and-answer session with MPs. Gordon Brown has said gay MPs and peers should to be allowed to hold civil partnership ceremonies inside the Palace of Westminster.
It had been stated that Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg would sit together on Tuesday for a discussion of parliamentary reform. He proposed the idea to MPs investigating how to open up Parliament to ethnic minorities, women, disabled people and homosexuals.
But they will now appear one after the other, in a format described as the "most effective" way to hear evidence. Parliamentarians and their children can marry in Parliament already but civil partnerships are not allowed.
The leaders will each get 20 minutes to answer MPs' questions. Mr Brown said politicians had to do more to "take on prejudice".
Labour leader Mr Brown will start, followed by Conservative Mr Cameron and Liberal Democrat Mr Clegg. Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem Nick Clegg will also be quizzed by MPs.
They are taking part in a "Speaker's Conference", looking at how to increase the representation of ethnic minorities, women and disabled people at Westminster. They are taking part in a Speaker's Conference, a rare type of inquiry to discuss parliamentary reform.
A parliamentary spokeswoman said: "The Speaker's Conference has concluded that the most effective way to interview the three party leaders is to call them to the table individually." 'Reluctance'
It had been stated last week that the leaders would be "sitting side-by-side, in the same way as they would when facing a parliamentary select committee". Mr Brown said Labour would "increase support for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] candidates" at the next general election.
The conference, chaired by Speaker John Bercow, was set up by his predecessor Michael Martin. He added: "Just as marriages can take place in the House, we hope Mr Speaker will consider that civil ceremonies could take place here."
You will be able to watch the whole event live on BBC Parliament and the BBC News website from 1030 BST on Tuesday 20 October Mr Brown also said Labour had a target of returning 120 to 140 female MPs at the next election.
The party leaders had been due to sit together for the televised debate with MPs but it was later announced that they would appear separately.
Conservative Eric Pickles suggested this was down to the prime minister's "reluctance" to appear beside his rivals.
But a Labour source said the format was a matter for Speaker John Bercow, adding: "The Speaker's Conference on diversity was the prime minister's idea. David Cameron originally refused to accept the invitation."
Mr Brown will answer MPs' questions first, followed by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg.
The Speaker's Conference - last used in 1978 - usually looks at matters to do with electoral law and electoral reform.
This one, set up by former Speaker Michael Martin, is to make recommendations to make the House of Commons more representative of the electorate by increasing the number of women, black and Asian and disabled MPs.