The Lord Mayor-Elect of London, Nicholas Lyons, gave his acceptance speech to Common Hall following his election.
My Lord Mayor, Fellow Liverymen
Thank you for the very great honour you do me by electing me to become the 694th Lord Mayor of London. With great humility, I accept the office for the ensuing year.
This time last year, we heard the story of a young Irishman who travelled to London to make his fortune.
Little could he have anticipated the historic events that would unfold in his Mayoralty. And when the City played host to the royal family and the good and the great of the nation to mark her late Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee at St Paul’s Cathedral and afterwards at Guildhall, our Lord Mayor not only made his mother proud. He made the City proud.
I stand before you as another Irishman. It’s a bit like Dublin buses; you wait for 100 years and then two come along one after the other.
Ten days ago, we all witnessed an event of global significance…… as a nation, perhaps even a world, came together to mark the extraordinary life and contribution played by her late Majesty.
Less than two weeks before that, we also saw the seamless transition of power from one Prime Minister to another. Not, admittedly, as graceful and beautifully choreographed….. but nevertheless calm.
That tells you a great deal about this country; it speaks to our observance and respect for rules and common decency…..just picture those hundreds of thousands of people queueing to see the catafalque in Westminster Hall where guardsmen (including my own Beadle, a Yeoman of the Guard) observed the vigil with heads bowed…
But it also reminds us of the importance of political stability and the value of parliamentary democracy to well-ordered economies and nations.
Our constitutional monarchy plays a very subtle but important role in how that democratic process works.
Well, as you know, the City of London has been inextricably bound up in the constitution of the nation for 1000 years. We, too, have survived every vicissitude that has come our way.
The reason for that, just as with the monarchy, is our ability to interpret forthcoming threats, adapt to changing environments and find solutions to seemingly intractable problems. In short, to be relevant.
Our history, our traditions and our longevity have given the City a fundamental stability that has enabled us to be at the forefront of every major financial development that the world has seen: stock markets, the insurance industry, the Eurobond market, bullion and commodity exchanges, FX and derivative markets…. and so much else.
And the complex ecosystem of financial service companies and the related professional service companies that coexist, symbiotically, alongside them in such a close geographic area, is not mirrored anywhere else in the world. That is what makes the City of London such an extraordinary place to do business.
That is also why we now have a huge opportunity and, indeed, a responsibility to be the engine that drives the economy forward.
No one underestimates the huge challenges that the next two years will bring as central banks and governments try to manage the twin threat of inflation on the one hand and impending recession on the other.
Finance4All estimates that 17 million people in this country have savings of less than £100. And fewer than 2 million of those are unemployed…..so 15 million of these are people in work…..but not able to budget beyond the next week.
Financial services industries have to find ways to help people bridge this crisis by providing premium wavers, affordable credit, and debt repayment deferrals. I will convene a summit of those organisations involved in looking at financial inclusion to develop a coordinated plan to see how the City can play its part in tackling this huge societal inequality.
But we have also got to take a lead in driving the growth and investment agenda so that we can bounce back strongly when these times are past.
We need to unleash the capital that is tied up in our pension industry as well as traditional sources of finance as we support investment in infrastructure, green finance and early stage science and technology companies.
And we need to continue to attract inward investment from large asset owners around the world.
I will be working to deliver on these three priorities with government, regulators and the private sector.
We must put the City back where it belongs not only in an economic context….. but also reputationally. Above all, we need to get Britain competitive internationally again.
That is why the theme of my Mayoral year will be “Financing our Future” and we will do that by demonstrating that we are a resilient, resourceful and responsible City.
I know that it is an ambitious agenda but it has to be. And we have many irons in the fire already. But I recognise that these will require consistent, multi-year commitments so we need to build strong foundations in my year. I subscribe to the Ronald Reagan point of view that there is no limit to what you can achieve if you are happy for others to take the credit.
My Lord Mayor, and fellow Liverymen, thank you again for this great honour which I accept in all humility.
I will be steeled and supported in my endeavours by the person who has been at my side for the last 46 years and without whose love and advice I would not be standing here. As they say, behind every moderately successful man there is an astonished wife!
Happily for you, you are getting a team…. and Felicity and I will work tirelessly to try to justify your faith in me.
My Lord Mayor.