Anthony Hilton: Trading up - Michael Heseltine’s brainchild matures
Heseltine set up the forum in the 1990s to help trade associations to raise their game
Saturday 23 March 2013
It is easy to make jokes about the Trade Association Forum being the trade association for trade associations, but the fact that a conference it organised on Wednesday could boast not one but two government ministers in the speaker line-up suggests it is no ordinary organisation.
Wednesday was of course Budget day, so Steve Webb, who spoke on pensions, and Jo Swinson, the Equalities minister, could easily have used this as an excuses to cry off at the last minute – as politicians have been known to do. The fact that both showed up and delivered full value in their respective slots – alongside the head of primary markets for the Stock Exchange, the head of the National Apprenticeship Service and several other leaders in their fields – speaks volumes for the regard with which these organisations are held in Whitehall.
The fact is that without trade associations, both business and government would find it much harder to function. There are hundreds of them, from the Horticultural Trades Association through the Alliance of Wedding Planners to the Association for Professional Alliance Testing, quietly organising memberships, raising standards, applying codes of conduct and lobbying government. They are the main channel of communication between Whitehall and the business community and without them it is hard to see how the system would function.
The forum itself was set up in the 1990s on the initiative of the then trade minister, Michael Heseltine, to help trade associations raise their game, become more professional and learn from each other. From the outset it has operated under the wing of the CBI. But its current chair, the National Federation of Builders' chief executive, Julia Evans, thinks the time may be coming for it to fly the nest and develop independently, so it's an organisation we could soon be hearing much more of.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
newsThat most ancient of crimes is on the rise, threatening farmers' livelihoods, community trust – and human health
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Lee Rigby murder: How killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale became ultra-violent radicals
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Client based in West London is looking ...
£80000 - £120000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Risk - Delivery/...
£Negotiable: Citifocus: This is a new role carrying responsibility for a numbe...
attractive: Citifocus: Prestigious investment house is recruiting for a Busine...