The New Welcome Lodge, No. 5139, is a British Masonic Lodge open to all men working in the Palace of Westminster. At its founding, membership was limited to Labour Party Members of Parliament, but its scope was broadened soon after. The lodge is alleged to have influenced the outcome of the 1935 Labour Party leadership election.
Founding and history
The lodge was consecrated in 1929, shortly before the formation in 1929 of the second Labour Government. Its founding was reported in a number of national newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, and Sporting Life. It was created at the suggestion of the then Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VIII, who was concerned by the antagonism between Freemasonry and the British left, and the fact that a number of Labour MPs were blackballed when applying to join Masonic lodges. The New Welcome Lodge was intended to form a link between Freemasonry and the new governing party, and was open to Labour MPs and for employees of trade unions and the Labour party; its members included Labour's deputy leader Arthur Greenwood. Hugh Dalton alleged that he had been approached to join the lodge, being told that the association was useful and that Greenwood (then deputy leader) was a member.
When the Parliamentary Labour Party was reduced in strength after its split at the 1931 United Kingdom general election over Ramsay MacDonald's formation of the National Government, numbers were reduced, and in 1934 membership was opened to all men working in the Palace of Westminster. Sir Walter Liddall was the first Conservative MP to be initiated in the lodge in 1937. By 1940, MPs from the three main parties were in the lodge and, since the Second World War, the membership of the lodge has been chiefly drawn from the staff of the Palace of Westminster.
Herbert Dunnico was Master of the New Welcome Lodge in 1931.
In 1989, the lodge was the subject of a House of Commons motion put down by the Labour member Max Madden, who stated that it was then meeting five times a year at Freemasons' Hall in London. In 1992 it was mentioned in parliament by Chris Mullin, who claimed that the members included Tony Baldry and Sir Gerard Vaughan.
Alleged influence on 1935 Labour Party leadership elections
Herbert Morrison claimed that he was denied the leadership of the Labour Party in the 1935 election by the votes of Labour MPs who were members of New Welcome Lodge. Morrison's backer Hugh Dalton made similar claims, and went further than Morrison by claiming to have been shown the summons for the meeting at which the voting was decided. Dalton believed that the members of New Welcome Lodge backed Arthur Greenwood, who was a member of the lodge, and then backed Clement Attlee in order to block Morrison.
- Hamill and Prescott, p.17, citing 'Freemasonry. New Lodge with Many MPs', Daily Telegraph, 5 November 1929
- Hamill and Prescott, p.17, citing 'Lounger column', Sporting Life, 9 November 1929
- A Body without a soul?, Andrew Prescott, Petre Stones Review
- Dr ANDREW PRESCOTT, 'THE STUDY OF FREEMASONRY AS A NEW ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE', Pietre Stones Review of Freemasonry, 2003, citing "New Welcome Lodge No. 5139, 50th Anniversary Meeting"
- Hamill and Prescott, p.19, citing 'The New Welcome Lodge No. 5139, 50th Anniversary Meeting, 14 March 1980' (privately printed brochure in the Library and Museum of Freemasonry).
- Freemasonry and the Labour Party in London: Some Approaches, Andrew Prescott, 2002
- Hugh Dalton, p.265.
- Hamill and Prescott, p.22.
- Hansard debate by Max Madden, MP for Bradford South, Hansard, 6 April 1989 "That this House congratulates Martin Short on the publication of his book, Inside the Brotherhood ; notes that the honourable Members for Ilford South, Croydon South, Chichester, Erewash, Banbury and Belfast North told Mr. Short they were Masons ; further notes that Mr. Short believes that the honourable Members for Bury South, Reading East and Keighley are Masons ; and finally notes Mr. Short reveals the Masonic Lodge to which Right honourable and honourable Members, Parliamentary Officers and staff belong is called the New Welcome Lodge (5139) which was consecrated in 1929 and meets five times a year at Freemasons' Hall in London, and that Parliamentary Journalists who are Mason's belong to the Gallery Lodge (1928).] May I unusually ask the Leader of the House himself to make a statement next week in view of the support of more than 200 hon. Members from all parties for the proposal that hon. Members who are masons should be required to declare their masonic membership in the Register of Members' Interests? Will the Leader of the House next week ask the Select Committee on Members' Interests to consider the matter urgently so that the necessary motions may be brought to the House?"
- Hansard debate by Chris Mullin, MP for Sunderland South, Hansard, 1 July 1992. "Its author suggests that freemasons are particularly well represented at all levels of the legal profession, in the police up to the highest level, in local government, places of higher education, and among hospital consultants. There is even a lodge in the House of Commons, membership of which, I understand, includes the hon. Members for Reading, East (Sir G. Vaughan) and for Banbury (Mr. Baldry), and a number of Officials of the House. There is also a lodge for the Press Gallery--about which considerably less is known than of the New Welcome lodge to which Members of Parliament and Officials of the House belong."
- John Hamill and Andrew Prescott, 'The Masons' Candidate: New Welcome Lodge No. 5139 and the Parliamentary Labour Party', Labour History Review, Volume 71, Number 1, April 2006 , pp. 9-41(33), citing H. Morrison, Herbert Morrison: An Autobiography (London, Odhams, 1960), p. 164
- Hugh Dalton, Hugh Dalton Dalton, Ben Pimlott, The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton, 1918-40, 1945-60 (London School of Economics and Political Science, ISBN 0-224-01912-0), p.224.
- Hamill and Prescott, pp. 9-41(33), citing H. Dalton, The Fateful Years, (London: Frederick Muller Ltd., 1957), p. 82