ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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    A separate paper of business for a General Meeting of the Grand Charity is published on pages 59-60.

Election of the Grand Master
HRH The Duke of Kent was unanimously re-elected Grand Master with acclamation.

Commission for Appeals Courts
The following four Metropolitan members were elected for 2005-2008: W Bro His Honour Peter Slot PJGD; W Bro D. L. Morgan PJGD; W Bro E. B. D. Waldy PAGReg; W Bro M. J. Messent. The four Provincial members elected were: W Bros B W Travers, P L Bird, District Judge P E Lawton and D N Cheetham.
Annual Dues
Contributions to the Grand Charity
The Board is carrying out an in-depth review of both the short and long-term financing of the Craft because it has for some time been aware that annual dues have not kept pace with running costs, and that investment income has been relied on to bridge the gap.
    In addition to this, the cost of maintaining the fabric of Freemasons’ Hall, which is now over 75 years old, continues to increase. Asbestos has recently been discovered throughout the building, and this must be removed at once in order to comply with current Health and Safety legislation.
    The Board believes that this exercise, which is progressing well and is on target for completion before the new Masonic season begins next September, will cost approximately £2.5 million.
    This was not an expected commitment, and was not, therefore, taken into account when the dues for 2005 were fixed a year ago. It is likely that other major works will also be needed within the next few years, and prudence requires that the Board set aside funds each year to cover these future costs.
    The Board believes that it is not sound commercial practice to subsidise the annual cost of running the Craft and maintaining Freemasons’ Hall out of investment income. The latter should only be used to maintain and build up a portfolio of investments in order to support a healthy balance sheet and to provide the cushion that is needed when unexpected costs or major expenditure on special projects are required.
    In future, the true cost of running the Craft as a whole, including the day to day cost of our flagship building, Freemasons’ Hall, which is an asset belonging to the entire membership, should be covered by dues.
    Whilst the Board is concerned at the possible effect of a large increase in dues on membership, it nevertheless considers that, looking to the future, annual dues for Metropolitan and Provincial Lodges in the region of £25 is a realistic amount.
    The Board has considered the merits of a one-off levy on all members of the Craft to meet the cost of the removal of asbestos, but has concluded that it is fairer to recover the cost through the annual dues over an extended period.
    The Board, therefore, recommends that in 2006 the annual dues, including VAT, should be for Metropolitan and Provincial Lodges £20, for Lodges in a District £4.75, for Lodges abroad not in a District £8, and for Lodges in England and Wales that are unattached £35.
    A Resolution to this effect was approved.
    The Board hopes that further increases in 2007 will not exceed an amount in line with inflation.
    The Board considers that the method set out in Rule 269 for calculating the dues payable by Lodges in a District and Lodges abroad not in a District by reference to a formula originally devised many years ago takes no account of the true cost of administering those Lodges, and that it would be more equitable for Grand Lodge to be free to fix the amount that is payable having regard to all relevant circumstances.
    Clearly, however, this would be a profound change for Lodges falling into these categories, and the Board wishes to consult them before recommending a change to the Rule.
    Under Rule 271, Book of Constitutions, Grand Lodge must fix each year the annual contribution that is payable to the Grand Charity. The Council of the Grand Charity has requested that for 2006 the annual contribution be raised to £10 in respect of each member of a Lodge in the Metropolitan Area or Province, or in England and Wales that is unattached.
    A Resolution to this effect was approved.
    The Board is conscious that the combined effect of the increase in Grand Lodge dues and the contribution to the Grand Charity impose an additional financial burden on the membership.
    However, it has reviewed the level of Grand Lodge dues over the last 20 years or so, and is satisfied that the proposed new amounts payable are not excessive, particularly when compared with the cost of other social activities.
    In real terms the cost of membership of the Craft at present is lower than it was 20 years ago and is substantially lower than the cost of membership in much of the rest of Europe and elsewhere.
    Members should appreciate that if the recommendations which the Board makes for the annual dues and Grand Charity contribution are approved the normal annual cost in England and Wales of membership of this Grand Lodge will, in 2006, still be less than 60p per week, well below the cost of the average Sunday newspaper.
    However, the Board will be continuing to review the way in which the Craft is funded in order to keep increases in dues to the minimum required to support Grand Lodge’s operation.

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