Mr Major said that was his personal view after Chris Mullin, the Labour MP for Sunderland South, reminded him during Prime Minister's Questions that in September 1986 in a questionnaire from Martin Short (author of Inside the Brotherhood), he had agreed that police officers, magistrates, members of Parliament, councillors and other public officials who were freemasons should disclose their membership.
'Is that still his position?' Mr Mullin asked, urging the Prime Minister to support his private-member Secret Societies (Declaration) Bill due for its Commons Second Reading on 29 January.
Mr Major replied: 'It remains my personal view as I set out at that time.' He would examine Mr Mullin's Bill and his own timetable and 'see what answer I come up with'.
The Bill does not seek to stop grown men wearing aprons, baring their breasts or indulging in other rituals but would sweep away the secrecy attaching to membership.
A wide range of public institutions - including the Commons, health authorities, government departments, local councils, police authorities, NHS trusts and urban development corporations - would be under a duty to keep a register, open to public inspection, of officer-holders or candidates for appointment who are members of 'secret societies'. Anyone failing to register membership would be liable to a fine.
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