Two Freemasons' lodges operating secretly at Westminster

Exclusive: Lodges for MPs and journalists are so covert even lobby reporters do not know members

Two Freemasons’ lodges set up for members of parliament and political journalists are continuing to operate secretly at Westminster, the Guardian has learned.

New Welcome Lodge, which recruits MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and Gallery Lodge, established for members of the political press corps known as the lobby, both remain active, according to Freemasonry records.

A third lodge called the Alfred Robbins Lodge, which was also set up for journalists, also continues to meet regularly in London.

The identities of the members of these three lodges remain unknown outside the world of Freemasonry, however, and so discreet are the members of Gallery Lodge that few journalists working in the lobby appear to be aware of its existence.

At Westminster, MPs and peers are not obliged to declare their membership of the Freemasons, although the Commons authorities say they can disclose this information voluntarily on the registers of members’ and Lords’ financial interests. None currently do so.