"This House believes that the City is not
doing enough for the 'real' economy."
Held on Tuesday, April 19, 2016
At the Mansion House, London, EC4N 8BH
This was the 20th annual City Debate – now a fixture on the City scene.
The basic format was the same as ever: a rather grand, high profile, black-tie dinner with lots of pomp and circumstance (as only the Mansion House can pull off).
Last year, the motion suggested regulation is 'strangling' the City; the year before, we were worrying about the 'normalisation' of interest rates. Before that, it was Brexit… nothing changes. This year, we reflected a very real debate that is taking place in both Whitehall and the City.
"This House believes that the City is not doing enough for the 'real' economy”
Does the City do enough for UK plc? Should it? Does the City have an obligation (legal, moral, whatever) to promote and finance the British economy? Or is its duty simply to do whatever it is best at, making money where and how it can?
We were delighted that (for the fourth year running) our moderator was the irrepressible, and occasionally immoderate, Angela Knight – a former City Minister, who ran the BBA during the worst of the financial crisis and Energy UK as oil prices collapsed, and who has now got the Sisyphean task of reforming the UK's tax system. This year's speakers were equally distinguished:
For the motion (ie supportive of the idea that the City could/should do more to finance 'real' economic activity in the UK):
- Sir Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, former MP for Twickenham, former chief economist for Shell and former lecturer in Economics. (He has a PhD in economic integration and industrialisation from Glasgow.)
- Lord (Lyndon) Harrison, former Labour MEP, former chairman of the Lords sub-committee on economic and financial affairs, and a distinguished humanist.
Against the motion (ie believing either that the City already does its fair share, or that it has other/bigger fish to fry):
- Michael Spencer, CEO of ICAP, former owner of City Index, a former Treasurer of the Conservative Party and a former winner of EY's “World Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
- Anthony Browne, Angela Knight's successor at the BBA, a former director of Policy Exchange and a former head of government relations for EMEA at Morgan Stanley. He was also a journalist, with (among others) the BBC, the Observer and The Times.