Freemasons Subvert Wales' Democracy
Put some faith in people's honesty
April 20, 2005
David Williamson, Western Mail
A DASH of surrealism has never seemed out of place
in Welsh politics, but the National Assembly is home to especially bizarre
Fearful that Wales' fledging democracy could be subverted
by Freemasons, the founders of our devolved government obliged Assembly
Members to declare their membership in the secretive organisation or
face criminal prosecution.
Over the past three years, however, this stipulation
has been increasingly regarded as arbitrary, unenforceable, and rather
The rituals, regalia and closed-door nature of Freemasonry
may seem quite sinister and subversive in the 21st century but, in the
absence of concrete proof it is a malign force in society, it is hard
to justify the Assembly's rules. LINK
But rather than drop the requirement to confess to
being a Freemason, Assembly Members will today vote of proposals to
force members to declare if they belong to private organisations such
as the Rotary Club and Cardiff & County Club. The logic is
that a litigious Freemason would now be unable to prove his society
was the victim of discrimination. [Ed.~
Discrimination begins with and endures through Freemasonry]
An Assembly that was truly fastidious about ensuring
surgical standards of objectivity might require modern legislators to
record every instance they conversed with a lobbyist. Most simple
of all would be to place some faith in the human capacity for honesty. [Ed.
~ Well why not be honest and declare membership of Masonry if there
is nothing to hide?
THE UK Competitiveness Index makes grim reading for
anyone looking for signs that Britain in general and Wales in particular
is a beacon of entrepreneurship.
Its author, Dr Robert Huggins of Sheffield University,
claims that more than half of the jobs created in Wales since 1997 have
been in the public sector.
This is a giant sector upon which Wales depends for
its education and healthcare, but real prosperity will not arrive unless
businesses are able to get on with the task of making money.
The UK is the 17th most competitive country in the
world in which to do business. If innovation is being dragged
down, our nation's future can only darken.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * *
Clubs added to Assembly Members' disclosure
National Assembly yesterday passed a controversial motion which places
members of groups including Rotary International and the Cardiff &
County Club in the same category as Freemasons.
Assembly Members must declare their membership in such
private clubs and societies or face investigation by the Standards Committee.
The legislation was introduced to prevent the Assembly
being prosecuted on human rights grounds for discriminating against
During yesterday's debate Conservative Assembly Member
William Graham asked for assurances that members of churches with specific
membership requirements would not be forced to reveal their religious
Kirsty Williams, who chairs the Standards Committee,
said, "I can't give you the assurances you are looking for... The
rules are the rules."
She said she expected that the vast majority of religious
groups would not fall into that category.
Dan Boucher, the Assembly Liaison Officer for the Evangelical
Alliance Cymru, later said, "If it transpires that those Assembly
Members who are members of religious organisations will be forced to
declare this fact or face legal action then this seems intrusive and
wholly at variance with the values of a liberal society."
Ms Williams had earlier argued for the change in the
rules on the grounds that the reform would improve general transparency.
She said, "To put this in context for colleagues,
the point has been made that while Freemasonry is required to be registered,
there is no requirement for a member to register their membership of
the Ku Klux Klan."
Labour Assembly Member Huw Lewis opposed the change
in the rules and wanted Freemasonry to continue to be singled out, regardless
of the risk of legal action. He said, "This chamber is the
voice of the people of Wales and not the voice of the lawyers of Wales."
He said he was concerned about Masonic influences on
public life because "there are actual oaths of secrecy and that
creates unease. LINK
The reality behind it may not be sinister but the perception matters."
James Bevan, Provincial Secretary of the South Wales
Eastern Division of Freemasons, said he was shocked by the attitude
of Assembly Members. He said, "What bothers me is the
uninhibited bigotry... A lot of the younger people seem to
be directed rather than think for themselves."
While he welcomed the broadening of the rules he regretted
that it was the threat of a lawsuit which had spurred the Assembly to
He said, "They are not responding to any sense
of fair play. They are trying to excuse their decision because
they say we were about to beat them over their head with a big stick."
Assembly Members voted in favour of the changes by
37 votes to seven, with two abstentions, thereby gaining the necessary