View from City Road: Lord Mayor's showpiece

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The Independent Online
IT IS easy to ridicule the pomp and circumstance of the Lord Mayor's Show and banquets at the Guildhall, but the Corporation of London should increasingly be viewed as a serious lobbying body.

This has been underlined by its decision yesterday to promote the Square Mile in an effort to secure London's place as a leading international financial centre. Having funded a pounds 1.5m research project into the competitive position of the City, the Corporation is more aware than most of the threat from Paris, Frankfurt and other financial centres.

The odd thing is that it has taken so long for any of the City's august organisations to take up the mantle. The Bank of England has long concerned itself with London's competitive position but its public comments have often smacked of complacency, while much of its lobbying on the City's behalf - for example for tax and regulatory changes - has been carried out in private.

The Corporation, which is the local authority for the Square Mile, has a short but successful track record in this area. It played an important role in persuading the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to come to London, and has struggled, rather against the odds, for the planned European Central Bank to follow suit.

It also helped to win government concessions on providing insurance cover against terrorist attack, motivated as much by the risks for its own property portfolio as by the needs of the City generally. And it has agreed to spend up to pounds 1.5m on the Financial Law Panel.

The task is not an easy one, but the Corporation deserves support from the City.