Brexit Party MS the only publicly declared Freemason parliamentarian in Britain
A Brexit party Member of the Senedd is the only parliamentarian in Britain to have publicly declared membership of the Freemasons despite a new transparency push historically shadowy organization, Nation.Cymru has found.
The youngest ever ‘grand secretary’ of the Freemasons in Wales and England, David Staples, “plans to bring greater transparency to the secretive society”, the Times has reported.
And Staples promised the public that they “will hear and see a lot more of the Freemasons” over the next 18 months in a question and answer session recently staged on Twitter.
But two years after it was confirmed several unnamed MPs were freemasons, not one is yet to publicly declare their membership.
Four Conservative members of the Scottish Parliament outed themselves in 2002 but none of them remain MSPs.
It leaves David Rowlands, who was elected as a UKIP member for south Wales east in 2016 but has since switched allegiances to the Brexit party, as the only parliamentarian in Britain to be open about their membership of the Freemasons.
On a UK basis, he is one of two alongside Northern Ireland’s health minister, Ulster Unionist Party MLA Robin Swann.
Brian Monteith, one of the four Freemasons previously in the Scottish Parliament, served briefly as a Brexit party MEP until January but had not declared membership with the European Parliament.
Unlike at Westminster, the Welsh Parliament has required elected members to declare membership of the freemasons since its inception.
The Senedd’s original standing orders made it a criminal offence for elected members not to declare membership, which sparked a challenge from the Freemasons under the Human Rights Act.
The rules were changed in 2005 to require members to register membership of any “private societies”, although members no longer face criminal charges for failing to declare membership.
At the time, a senior Welsh Freemason said: “We had the ridiculous situation that, as a freemason, if I wanted to become an AM, I would have to declare my membership.
“But a member of the Ku Klux Klan or Meibion Glyndwr would be all right.”
Police officers and lawyers were among the names of 13,000 Welsh Freemasons published in 2010.
Alun Michael, the police and crime commissioner for south Wales, has called for the declaration of membership of the Freemasons to be made compulsory for all public servants.
“If members of a club or society have to disclose, it takes away any hidden agendas,” he told S4C’s Y Byd ar Bedwar in 2016.
“It would be best to have one common system for local authorities, police force and health boards. Only then can we ensure everybody is being treated equally.”
While David Rowlands may be the first MS and one of just a handful of UK politicians to have openly declared membership of the Freemasons, he was referred to the Senedd standards body last year after failing to declare employment of a family member.