HC Deb 23 March 1999 vol 328 cc177-8W
Mr. Mullin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in implementing the Government's proposals for registering membership of the freemasons in the police, prison and probation services in respect of (i) the establishment of the voluntary register, (ii) the introduction of compulsory registration for new appointments or appointments on promotion and (iii) the arrangements for making the information available to the public. [78052]

Mr. Boateng

[holding answer 22 March 1999]: Home Office officials are currently working with the Association of Chief Police Officers to set up voluntary registers for existing staff in line with my commitment to the Home Affairs Committee on 20 October 1998. Arrangements for the other categories of occupation affected by the policy, including the Prison and Probation Services, will be implemented once the internal registration arrangements for the Police Service have been set up and are in operation.

Once voluntary registers are in place for existing office holders, we will move swiftly to make arrangements for new staff and existing staff transferring between posts.

The disclosure of Freemasonry membership by office holders and employees in the categories of occupation affected by the policy is entirely voluntary at present. Lawful publication of information about Freemasonry membership disclosed voluntarily will require the informed consent of those who have disclosed that information which can be given only once the precise nature of the publication arrangements has been determined.