Busy times and in this blog I want to write about the things which are not covered elsewhere on our website and Marketor. I am both amazed and delighted with the depth and breadth of events I have had the honour to attend on behalf of the Company. As you would expect of any Master of a Livery Company, I thought I had a good understanding of how everything worked but I am thoroughly impressed with the amount of work that goes on for good causes not only publically but privately as well. I am sure that by the time my year as Master is over, I will be not only better informed but truly enriched by the experience.
The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers
So on 3rd March the Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers to the Painters’ Hall invited me with our Clerk to a banquet. There was great discussion lead by the Upper Warden, Arnold Homer, on the issues surrounding tax evasion and tax avoidance and what now appears to be a predatory role assumed by HMRC. It is an important philosophical and legal point that no person is required to pay a penny more in tax than required by the law, but HMRC seem to be interested in taking as much tax as possible from those who they can coerce into paying more. Many well known people pay tax on the basis of advice given by their professional advisors and then seem to be accused of not paying enough in an uncalled for fashion with HMRC playing the role of a collection agency. This damages reputations and can even go as far as people going on ‘trial by Twitter’. This can destroy the brand value of famous people and global companies and one wonders what is driving this way of working – is it the politics of envy or is it the unbelievable complexity of our current tax regime? The guide on Top Up Relief on development expenditure alone requires 750 pages in the HMRC guide!
The Worshipful Company of Lightmongers
The following week (9th) the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers hosted a dinner for the Modern Liveries at Cutlers’ Hall. When I looked around the room and noticed who was there – the Accountants, the Information Technologists, Management Consultants, the Tax Advisers and of course, the Marketors you suddenly realised the validity of the Modern Livery Companies in providing professional services to the City of London. Sheriff Fiona Adler gave a very humorous speech.
Aldgate Ward Club invited me to the Bank of England
A few days later (13th) the Aldgate Ward Club invited me to the Bank of England and I had the opportunity to hold a solid gold bar and for something relatively small (approx.10”x4”x2’) it was unbelievably heavy – but it was a special thing to be able do this.
I learnt lots – did you know there are £60 billion paper notes in circulation? There are also £6 billion worth of coins. Also this is where the Royal Mint (coins) and the Bank of England (notes) differ. You may have heard that there is going to be a move to plastic notes – they will last more than twice as long as the current paper version. I think we are all aware that the fiver is hardly used these days – mainly because they cannot now be efficiently dispensed by ATMs. The £20 note is the transactional note of choice and the £50 are considered stores of wealth (the ones we stuff in our mattresses…). With these new notes, the Bank of England is building in all sorts of highly complex technical details to prevent copying; for instance, they are adopting special polymers making replication as technically difficult as possible. With our currency no longer backed by gold of course we can just print notes because the government wants to.
The Fuellers’ Company at the Guildhall
The following week (16th) took me to the Guildhall where the Fuellers’ Company held their Royal Charter Banquet in the presence of HRH the Earl of Wessex. The Fuellers’ lost their Royal Charter some 400 years ago due to some misappropriation of funds due for tax. In awarding the Royal Charter, Prince Edward suggested that to lose one Royal Charter is careless but to lose a second might just be unforgiveable!
The Harvard Bursary
Later that week we judged the Harvard Bursary on 19th March with their Portfolio Director Katherine Venn in attendance. Needless to say, we are delighted with the outcome and there is much more about this on our website.
Lord Mayor’s Banquet for the Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs at the Mansion House
That evening (19th) was a Lord Mayor’s Banquet for the Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiffs at the Mansion House. Now this really is the City in full flow – it was a very grand event bringing together the Livery and the Mayoralty. I was stuck by a number of different things:
- We must tell more people about the work we do;
- The charitable work carried out by the City is astounding;
- The City of London is a remarkable commercial centre and sometimes we forget the sheer scale of the work and its impact globally.
Most importantly, so much is done on trust and the importance of keeping one’s word still has great store.
The United Guilds Service at St Paul’s Cathedral
The next day (20th) I headed to the magnificent St Paul’s Cathedral with the Great 12 leading the charge of the full panoply of the City, Livery Masters and Wardens for the United Guilds Service. Here we heard an insightful sermon on the importance of fair play and standards in business life.