Speech of the Pro First Grand Principal, the Marquess of Northampton
Companions, I have little to add to what I
have said on previous occasions and what has
been said today. I hope this new alternative
ritual will be adopted by many Chapters,
and that the spiritual message of the Royal
Arch will be better understood as a result.
I would like to thank the members
of the main Committee and the ritual sub-Committee for their deliberations over the
past two years; E. Comp Richard Sandbach
and others who played a major part in the
creation of this alternative ritual and the
Grand Scribe Ezra for his efforts in answering
individually a very considerable number of
letters from concerned Companions.
I would also like to thank the President
and other members of the Committee of
General Purposes and E Comp. Elkan Levy
for their support culminating in the vote
today. I have been very impressed by the
contribution of the members of the Royal
Arch and the obvious devotion they have for
this unique Order. Companions, we must
now concentrate our efforts on introducing
those brethren who will be able to benefit
from its profound message.
Companions, the President of the Board
of General Purposes (BGP) of the Craft has
asked me to make a statement on his behalf
on the matter of asbestos in Freemasons' Hall.
Companions, Freemasons' Hall is nearly
75 years old. Built as the Masonic Peace
Memorial to commemorate those who
gave their lives in the First World War,
there was a determination by the Building
Committee that only the highest quality
materials and latest technology would be
used in its construction. Unfortunately
for us today, one of the high tech materials
much used at that period was asbestos,
mainly as a lagging material.
In the summer of last year a problem
was discovered under the floors of the
balconies of the Grand Temple, and dealt
with. The BGP commissioned an asbestos
survey, and at the end of this September
another major project was started, in
accordance with current best practice,
to seek out and remove any residual asbestos
in the building. That work is being carried
out by one of the leading specialists in
the field under stringent safety conditions.
As part of those safety conditions, the
normal air exchange and heating systems
in the building have been switched off
and temporary heating is being installed.
Constant tests have been, and will
continue to be, carried out, and the
levels of asbestos dust are significantly
below the limits allowed by Health and
Although the work will take some time,
well into next year, and will inevitably
disrupt the normal routines of the building,
plans have been made to keep that disruption
to a minimum. However, Freemasons'
Hall will unfortunately be closing a week
earlier than usual at Christmas, as a stage in
these works, and will remain closed during
the first week in January.
Those Chapters and Lodges who are
affected at that time will have to make
arrangements with other venues, or change
their date, and the Grand Secretary's office
is already in touch with them and will do
what it can to assist. Any dispensation fees
that arise as a result will be waived.
Companions, there is no danger to
anyone working in or using the building,
but it is a legal requirement that we deal
with the problem now. The atmosphere
is being regularly monitored as part of the
removal project, and although the work
is complicated, disruptive, and, I am sorry
to say, expensive, we shall, when it is all
completed, have the satisfaction of knowing
that we have fully complied with all the
Health and Safety Regulations and the law.
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