Saturday, 23 February 2013
Mansion House - The City of London Monday 18th February
‘The City - The Jewel in our Crown’
The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor, Alderman Roger Gifford, welcomed a large group of Masters and Clerks, as well as City business leaders, to Mansion House in the early evening to hear a speech on the UK economy by the Deputy Prime Minister.
The Lord Mayor introduced Mr Clegg and, after a short allocution, the Deputy Prime Minister set the tone of the evening by announcing that he had thought about coming tonight to talk about a Mansion tax. After nervous laughter from the audience had subsided he did say he was very impressed with the surroundings of the Egyptian Room.
The Rt Hon Nick Clegg stated that ‘Tonight I’d like to focus on regional growth; enterprise outside of London. A topic I know is close to the Lord Mayor’s heart too. I’m told that in his first three months since taking office he’s travelled to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, to look at how the City can deepen its partnership with all of the UK’s nations and regions. The Corporation understands the point that was – sadly – missed by the mainstream political elite for too long: we need to rebalance our economy away from its overreliance on London and the South East’.
The opportunity was then taken by the Deputy Prime Minister to announce twenty more areas of England that are to be given greater independence from Whitehall under the new "city deal" scheme. Mr Clegg said the British economy needs "major rebalancing" to shift focus away from London and south-east England. We were advised that eight of England's major cities outside of London are already part of the initiative to boost jobs and growth.
There would also be a restoration of spending powers to some authorities in cities and districts across England. Mr Clegg went on to warn us that without this the UK could miss out on £41bn of growth year-on-year. He said: ‘London will always be at the heart of the UK's economy, and the envy of the world: open, global, dynamic, diverse, unmatched in its talent and expertise. But we have other strengths too, in other industries, in other places. There can and must be more than one jewel in our crown.’
At the conclusion of his speech, Mr Clegg announced that there was time for a few questions and answers. Concerns were expressed at the rate and pace of change that allowed little time for reflection and review on many major decisions that would affect the City and jobs.