Freemasonry and local government
The Standards Board monitors the register of
local government councillors’ interests. On
12 January they issued a press release stating
that as Freemasons, through their Lodge
subscriptions, paid into the Grand Charity,
Freemasonry was therefore ‘a body directed
to charitable purposes.’ As such, councillors
who are Freemasons had to register their
membership in the Register of Interests.
John Hamill, Director of
Communications at Grand Lodge, and
Rodney Pitham, Information Officer for the
Province of Warwickshire, challenged that
view. They argued that it was not the
individual who paid to the Grand Charity,
but the Lodge – part of the reason why tax
cannot be claimed back on the payment.
According to John Hamill: “Freemasonry
itself is not a charity, and whilst it is hoped
that members act charitably, we do not direct
them to charitable purposes. As a result of
this challenge the press release was removed
from the Standards Board web site”.
He adds that the advice on their web site
was to be revised, and “the Standards Board
has asked to meet with us to further their
understanding of Freemasonry.
“Our advice remains what it was when
the statutory code was introduced: all Master
Masons are members of the Grand Charity,
with the right to attend and vote at its meetings.
“Therefore, if a councillor is a Master
Mason, he must register his membership of
the Grand Charity, and of any other charity
(Masonic or non-Masonic) in which he has
voting rights or a management position.” Mr
Hamill says that Freemasonry, Grand Lodge
and private Lodges are not charities or bodies
directed to charitable purposes. “Therefore,
in our view, membership of Freemasonry is
This shows how patience and quiet,
behind the scenes diplomacy, can work.
Also, there is a fundamental principle at
stake: whilst Freemasons who are councillors
are happy to declare their membership as
part of a general declaration of all interests,
they are totally opposed to being singled out.
It is to the credit of the Standards Board
they have been prepared to listen, and have
set a standard for all other public authorities
– national and local – to follow.
How time flies! MQ is now two years old
and this is the ninth issue since our launch in
April 2002. It has now been decided to
provide more Masonic editorial, and this is
reflected in this issue.
Only travel, gardening and book reviews
now remain of non-Masonic features, and it
is hoped that the increased Masonic content
will find favour with readers.
With modern modes of communication and
the growth of new Grand Lodges, the Grand
Secretary and his office are experiencing
The Grand Secretary would be delighted
to hear from any brethren who are fluent in a
European language (particularly Eastern
European languages) who could occasionally
help with translations of correspondence
Please contact the Grand Secretary’s
office at Freemasons’ Hall, telephone
020 7831 9811.
Calling Concorde veterans
Middlesex Province is trying to arrange for
a Concorde to be returned to Brooklands
Museum, Weybridge, and is anxious to
contact any Mason who was connected with
the supersonic airliner. Ring the Provincial
Office on 020 8891 3300.