MPs told to declare links to Masons
Martin Bright, home affairs editor
Sunday June 12, 2005
MPs and peers should be forced to declare membership of secret societies such as the freemasons in line with police officers and judges, according to a Commons motion to be tabled tomorrow.
The motion will call on the Standards and Privileges Committee to include societies with a closed membership in its list of members interests. This would include Piccadilly gentlemen's clubs and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) as well as freemason's lodges.
The motion has been tabled by campaigning Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams, who claims it is not an attack on freemasonry but a call for increased openness in parliament. 'Re-establishing the public's trust in politicians depends upon being open about interests and affiliations,' he said last night.
There are five million freemasons worldwide, who pledge to give each other mutual support. Their activities were originally kept secret due to persecution by national governments.
Since 1999 all judges, police, prison and probation officers have been obliged to declare membership. There is no suggestion that there is anything inappropriate about membership, but, in principle, the register, should allow the public to see whether members of the criminal justice system are connected to each other through their loyalty to a particular secret society or lodge.
Concerns have been raised that declarations are not being made on a systematic basis. In a parliamentary answer, Baroness Scotland said that registers were held internally by individual police forces and not monitored by central government.