HL Deb 17 March 1998 vol 587 c572

3.1 p.m.

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

For how many organisations they require members to declare their membership when applying for posts as magistrates, in the police or as judges.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn)

My Lords, magistrates are asked to give details of membership of any organisations or clubs as part of listing their general interests. People applying for appointment as police officers are asked to give details of any voluntary and community work which they have undertaken. Those being considered for appointment as judges are not asked about membership of organisations. In the future those being considered for appointment as members of a police force, the magistracy or the judiciary will be asked specifically whether they are freemasons.

Lord Burnham

My Lords, as the Government are keen to enshrine the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, how does that tie in with the Minister's stated intention to discriminate against freemasons, and freemasons alone?

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, it is not a case of discriminating against freemasons. I take it that the noble Lord is referring to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which concerns respect for private and family life, but that is within the corresponding balance of the freedom and rights of others.