HC Deb 21 February 2000 vol 344 c738W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidance his Department has issued to the armed services on membership of, and recruitment to, masonic organisations; and if he will make a statement. [111341]

Mr. Spellar

We decided to clarify the position for Armed Forces personnel in July 1999 by issuing guidance in the form of a Joint Service Defence Council Instruction on Membership of Societies such as the Freemasons. This states thatThere is no intention or policy to preclude Service personnel from membership of any lawful and benevolent organisation. However, involvement in organisations of a secretive nature, such as the Freemasons, carries with it the risk of establishing disparate loyalties which may have a destabilising influence on the chain of command, not least by the perception of preferential treatment and undue influence. While membership of such organisations is clearly a matter for the individuals concerned, serving personnel should not encourage or promote membership among their colleagues, meetings should not be held on MOD premises, and use should not be made of any MOD property.

Forward to