The Remembrancer is the only non-MP or civil servant with a seat in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. He sits to the right of the Speaker in every session of parliament. His sole purpose is to scrutinise and influence legislation in the interests of the banks. Nobody elected this representative into our parliament. What kind of democracy allows an unelected lobbyist for a wealthy elite to sit in its parliament to write laws in their own interests?
Who is the Remembrancer?
The current Remembrancer is Paul Double, a former barrister, and he has been in the role since 2003. In that time, he has not provided a single interview to the media. He has a budget of £5.3m, and a £500,000 staff which included six lawyers.
The City of London Website describes his activities and duties as thus:
“The City Remembrancer’s Office is one of the City’s traditional offices and dates from the reign of Elizabeth I. The Office holder is one of the City’s Law Officers as well as being a Parliamentary Agent and its Head of Protocol. The Remembrancer is charged with maintaining and enhancing the City’s status and ensuring that its established rights are safeguarded. As long ago as 1685 an order was made for the Remembrancer “to continue to attend Parliament and the offices of the Secretaries of State daily, and acquaint the Lord Mayor with the public affairs and other business transacted there, relating to the City”. In the contemporary context, this work encompasses day to day contact with officials in Government departments responsible for developing government policy, the drafting and promotion of legislation and responsibility for relations with both Houses of Parliament and their Committees including briefings for debates in which the City Corporation or its associated bodies have an interest. The Office also tracks the work of the GLA Assembly, and the GLA’s associated bodies.”
In short, while having no vote, the Remembrancer is granted direct access to decision makers and legislators in order to lobby for the interests of the City. Nicholas Shaxson, author of the definitive investigation of the City of London ‘Treasure Islands’, refers to his role as the “world’s oldest institutional lobbyist”.
What is the City of London?
While many will have never heard of the role of the Remembrancer, just as many will probably have no idea about the City of London Corporation he exists to serve. The City of London (The Square Mile) is the only area of the UK over which parliament has no authority. Instead, it is the Corporation that imposes on Parliament, with the Remembrancer.
There are 25 electoral wards inside the boundaries of the City. In four, the 9,000 people living there are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the other 32,000 votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers get 79. It’s not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who “appoint” the voters. As George Monbiot argues: “Plutocracy, pure and simple.”
The Corporation consists of four levels of elected representatives rising through common councilmen, aldermen, sheriffs and topped by the Lord Mayor. Election to these positions is contingent upon you being a ‘Freeman of the City of London’, and to be one of those you must join one of the 108 City Livery companies. You do not have to be a British citizen or a member of the Commonwealth to obtain these roles, you just have to be initiated – and how that happens is anyone’s guess. It’s masonic in its secrecy and reliance on wealth and privilege for access.
The Lord Mayor acts as the President of the City. The current Lord Mayor is Roger Gifford – pictured left, in his gilded carriage. His role as described by the Corporation’s website: “a dedicated ambassador, supporting and promoting the City”. He is principally the winer and diner of UK and World political leaders, in order to remove any pesky regulations which might dint the profits of the City of London. He enjoys an £11.5m budget to blow on this specific purpose.
Father William Taylor spent several years between 2001 and 2008 as a City of London Corporation Common Councillor.
‘You are getting in a room all the powerful people you want to influence,’ he said. ‘You are getting them handsomely drunk. You are applauding them. It’s literally intoxicating. The amount of booze consumed is vast if you wish to. It’s the way power operates. It’s probably underestimated as a tool for cementing consensus and support for the Corporation.’
The Lord Mayor is also the Trustee for St Paul’s Cathedral, which goes some way to explaining the collaboration between the Cathedral and the Corporation in removing Occupy London.
The Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee of the Corporation acts as Prime Minister for this autonomous region within our country. The role is currently filled by Mark Boleat – pictured left, declaring the Future of Banking on CNBC. His predecessor Stuart Fraser was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list – for services to the Square Mile (The City). He was granted contact with George Osborne, Treasury ministers and senior Treasury officials 22 times in 14 months – in just two months he sent the Chancellor three letters and received a personal response from Osborne.
This autonomous region of the UK is outside the control of parliament, is run by an old boy’s network of medieval privilege, has its own police force and holds huge sway over our democratic process. We have no representative in their closed system, but they have representation and influence over ours.
We Have to Kick Out the Bankers
The City has resisted all efforts at democratisation for more than 1,000 years, through lobbying, bribery and threats. Post War Labour Prime Minister Clement Atlee, father of the Welfare State, said “”over and over again we have seen that there is in this country another power than that which has its seat at Westminster.” But neither Atlee nor any subsequent government have laid a single glove on this corrupt protectorate, quite the opposite. Until shortly before 1997, removing the Remembrancer was a Labour Party pledge – then even that paltry, unmet promise disappeared.
The impact of this has been the erosion of our democracy as it was twisted to serve the needs of this despotic island of ill gotten gains. The dramatic cuts in taxes paid by corporations and the wealthy, the absence of regulation which led to the Financial Crisis, the refusal to punish a single member of the City for the actions which led to the crash, the Bank Bailout, the ideological austerity which has seen the taxpayer foot the bill for the Financial Crisis while the City retained the profits – these are the fruits of our bastardised democracy.
If we stand even the smallest chance of transforming our country through this parliament, we are definitely not going to do it while it is in hock to The City. We must kick the bankers out of parliament.
Avaaz launched a campaign earlier this year to Kick the Bankers out of Parliament. Sign the petition and get involved.
The Green Party are the only party with a sitting MP who have promised to abolish the role of the Remembrancer. Caroline Lucas MP called on Speaker John Bercow to remove the Remembrancer as recently as this April. They have also called for the abolition of the City of London Corporation itself.