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Archbishop of Canterbury's toast at The Lord Mayor of London’s reception

Monday 4th February 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, made the following response to The Lord Mayor of London’s remarks at a lunch at Mansion House, following his Confirmation of Election at St Paul's Cathedral.

Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress, Your Grace, My Lords, Sheriffs, Ladies and Gentlemen

Caroline and I are very grateful to you, Roger and Clare, for entertaining us today, as part of the Confirmation of Election. It is generous hospitality, and much appreciated. As a Liveryman of the Skinners, I am aware of the jurisdiction of The Lord Mayor, especially that of Robert Billesdon in 1484, and am proud to say that I enter life as Archbishop at sixes and sevens. As you mentioned, the City of London has played a considerable part in the lives of many Archbishops, and in the murder of one, Sudbury.

Which brings me to the Banking Standards Commission and the events of the last few years in the Banking sector. I came here a little nervous (I am a nervous sort) that with the publicity given to the Commission, rather than meeting a horde of revolting peasants, I might come across infuriated bankers, and be deprived of my head.

But you spoke, Lord Mayor, of the hope of co-operation in the future of the extraordinary community that is the City of London. The years from the re-opening of the Euromarkets in the early 60s, led by the late and great Sir Sigmund Warburg, to 2008 were as much a golden age of the City as anything in its past, but should be outshone by its future. To this day, the largest proportion of legal work, accounting, banking, international finance, insurance, and much of commodity trading, shipping, happens in the City.

That is a good thing. Let me also say that I am not throwing stones at the City, when all is going well, markets are rising, profits look good, it is virtually impossible to stand against the tide: I wonder if I would have done, and few managed it.

The danger is the same as every good trader recognises, that of looking back to where the market was, not looking forward to where it should be. The City of the future should be highly profitable, but from serving the communities of the UK and overseas. It should grow a culture that takes the best of the past, the intelligence, the drive, the innovation and entrepreneurial skills, and puts those talents to the benefit of the common good. The challenge that we all face is the creation of an architecture for a 21st century financial services industry and banking sector, one which is ethical and profitable, innovative and safe. The decision taken by the Chancellor to electrify the ring fence, as recommended by the BSC in order to embed the Vickers proposals, is both wise and imaginative. It is not playing politics with banking, but ensuring that this country has the most flexible and effective banking system in the world.

Lord Mayor, your predecessors and mine worked together on issues of ethics and capitalism, and – like you – I very much look forward to continuing that dialogue.

I am also filled with admiration at your Lord Mayor’s Appeal, supporting music, art, children and nature. It shows we have other things in common too: even the boxing match you’re planning in Smithfield Market could be said to have the occasional parallel in the Church.

The hospitality of the City is second to none, and you and Clare have done us proud today. So on behalf of all your grateful guests, I would like to propose a toast to you both.

Toast: The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.

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