A spokesman for Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has dismissed rumours that she on the brink of resigning from the Cabinet.

Ms Kelly has been the focus of much of the criticism the goverment has faced after it was revealed that they are considering granting exemptions to anti-discrimination legislation to Roman Catholic adoption agencies.

It has been widely reported that Ms Kelly was the driving force behind the exemptions, which would have allowed Catholic agencies to continue to refuse to consider gay and lesbian couples as adoptive parents.

On Tuesday it emerged that it was in fact the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who wanted to grant an exemption Roman Catholic agencies from the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which come before parliament next month.

A Communities and Local Government department spokesman told The Bolton News that the resignation rumours are nonsense.

“The question has never arisen. Ruth has been trying to seek a practical solution on these very sensitive issues all the way along.”

Roman Catholic prelates in England and Wales have said their adoption agencies cannot consider gay or lesbian couples as adoptive parents, and unless the government grants an exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulations, they will shut down the agencies.

The regulations are designed to protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people from discrimination in the provision of goods and services, including adoption.

Ms Kelly has been attacked over the proposed exemptions because of a perecption that her devout Catholic faith might have been a factor in considering allowing the Church to opt-out of the regulations.

Ms Kelly’s shadow on the Conservative front bench, Eleanor Laing, has defended her right to hold religious views.

“I vehemently defend Ruth Kelly’s right to practise her own religion while at the same time acting responsibly as a government minister,” she told PinkNews.co.uk