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Andrew Mackinlay: I am following the drift of my hon. Friend's argument. I find it deeply offensive that McDonald's has a vote, but beefeaters do not. Beefeaters attract people to the City, being a proud symbol of the City of London. They also have a view—they are articulate fellows, from my recollection—yet they will be unable to make any contribution to City government as employees, although the person in the burger bar will.

John McDonnell: Let me give another example. Arthur Andersen, the accountancy company, will have a vote—indeed, it will have more votes as a result of the proposed system—but the Bank of England will not have any.

Mr. Hopkins: Will Arthur Andersen be representing the interests of what remains of Enron?

John McDonnell: It is interesting that Enron is not located in the City of London.

Mr. Mark Field: I am not a shareholder in Enron, although I hope to have the opportunity to say a few words as I have undertaken a certain amount of public consultation on this matter, as I promised to do in our debate on 15 November. Given the rate at which the hon. Gentleman is going through his notes, that might be difficult, however. As a matter of fact, Arthur Andersen may have some small sub-offices in the City of London, but most of its offices are based in the city of Westminster.

John McDonnell: That is helpful, because I have obtained from the House of Commons Library a list of the top 100 employing companies in the City of London corporation. I shall not read them all out, but my understanding is that Arthur Andersen and Company is located at 20, Old Bailey, London EC4M 7AN. It is listed here as a firm of accountants—although some would describe them otherwise—with 1,000 employees. I leave it to hon. Members to calculate how many votes that would create.

Mr. Field: The company does, indeed, have some employees in the City, as I said in my previous intervention. The majority, however, are based in the Surrey street area, which is outside the boundaries of the City of London.

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John McDonnell: I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would place on the record how many employees of Arthur Andersen and others are located within the area. Under the proposal that he may support if he does not support my amendments—although I shall be surprised if he does not do that—Andersen would, I think, gain one vote for the first five employees, 10 for the next lot up to 50, then one for every 50 after that. That could mean that Andersen would run the City of London corporation—indeed, it may well be doing so already.

8 pm

Ms Abbott: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Fortuitously, my hon. Friend has brought with him a list of the 100 top employers in the City, and as that is the electoral franchise that we are debating, would it be appropriate for him to read the names of those 100 companies into the record?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Sylvia Heal): That is not a point of order but a matter for debate.

John McDonnell: I am tempted to do that, but instead I shall try to ensure that a copy of the list is laid before Members as soon as possible. I requested the list from the Library, and it was supplied by the corporation of London's economic development unit, which I thank for that information.

Mr. Dismore: This all goes back to the Eddie George exclusion clause. I am interested in the list that my hon. Friend has produced. Are there any foreign banks, especially state-owned foreign banks, on it? It would be bizarre if they had a vote in the City yet the Bank of England did not.

John McDonnell: What interests me is that the Bank of England, which is located in Threadneedle street, has 3,000 employees—so if it were given the right to vote rather than being excluded, it would be a significant voter for the City of London corporation.

Let me read out a few names. I dare not even mention Barings bank, although it is located in the City. [Hon. Members: "Go on."] I shall not press the matter, but I would be grateful if one of my hon. Friends could find someone to photocopy the list.

Let me go back to my argument on new clause 1, and why I think that it is an attempt to exclude the Bank of England. If the Bank of England had any sort of access to the governance of the City of London corporation, it would have a responsibility, or feel a sense of duty, to reach a more thorough understanding of the corporation's finances and management, and would investigate them.

The new clause excludes the Bank of England from any role in examining the City of London's "City cash". That is the name of an account held by the City of London corporation, but the accounts are neither published nor audited by the district auditor. If the Bank of England were not excluded by this incredibly damaging new clause, surely Eddie George would want to bring to light the mysteries of the City cash.

I raised the subject of the petition from Mr. Malcolm Matson in a point of order, because it was he who, in his excellent Fabian pamphlet of a few years ago, outlined the noxious basis on which the City is funded by the

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secret City cash. That is why we want Government Departments and the Bank of England involved in the governance of the City of London. We want to expose those secret sums, which, unlike any other local government funds or budgets, are not under the scrutiny of the district auditor.

I received a letter on that subject from a Mr. Streeter, who pointed out the origins of the City cash, and explained why the new clause had been drafted to ensure that the Bank of England and others were excluded from participation.

I shall give a small example. Some of the revenue income from the City cash—£1.2 million—is expended on feasting, and £250,000 was spent on a boardroom for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The new clause was tabled to ensure that the Bank of England and others have no role.

Mr. Hopkins: This may sound like a light matter, but there is a serious undertone.

John McDonnell: It is serious.

Mr. Hopkins: My hon. Friend referred to feasting. I suppose that by that he means good meals. Just before I came into the Chamber, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) told me that he recently had a very good dinner at the Mansion House. Is that the sort of dinner that is meant by feasting?

John McDonnell: Is my hon. Friend raising a matter of privilege on the Floor of the House? Is the City corporation wining and dining Members of Parliament to influence their votes? Surely not.

Mr. Mark Field: I am tempted not to respond every time, but, as I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows, one of the ceremonial roles of the corporation of London, on behalf of the City—indeed, on behalf of the nation—is to stage dinners for state visits. Obviously those are expensive, but there is no doubt that they are also extremely useful in exporting the United Kingdom as an entity to the countries that the state visitors come from.

Those dinners are not restricted to a small clique of individuals. In my capacity as a local MP I have attended two state dinners in the seven months since my election, and it was clear that many hundreds of people from all walks of life are invited—across the political divide, and from the business community throughout the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that the City of London performs a good ambassadorial role in that way.

John McDonnell: I have no doubt about the role that the City corporation plays in eating for Britain.

Mr. Dismore: Perhaps I should declare an interest, because a couple of years ago I went to a dinner. I think that it was for the judges, although I have not been invited back because I did not wear the right clothes. My hon. Friend may rest assured that that did not influence my approach—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. Interesting though this may be, we are moving away from the new clause.

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John McDonnell: I agree, Madam Deputy Speaker. Like me, you have probably never been invited—or perhaps you have.

Let me explain the role of the Bank of England. Would it have much authority or influence if the amendment to exclude it were rejected? I have outlined the top 100 companies, and the Bank of England, with 3,000 employees would have, according to my calculation—although I am open to correction—about 69 votes.

That may not sound a considerable number elsewhere, but in the City of London it is. Judith Mayhew was elected chair of policy and resources in December 1998 with 27 votes, so we can see how 69 votes would be important in influencing the direction that the City of London corporation would take.

Let us compare the old clause with the new. If the new clause were adopted, it would exclude a whole range of bodies, but if it were rejected it would allow a range of expertise—the Bank of England's economists, investigators and accountants—to set about the City of London corporation's creative accountants' abilities and abuse of power.

Another body that the new clause would exclude is the Crown Prosecution Service, which is also located in the City of London. I do not have the list in front of me but from memory, the CPS has about 600 employees in its City of London offices, and I calculate that it would therefore qualify for about 16 votes. Why does the City of London corporation want to prevent the Crown Prosecution Service from having a role in its governance?

The role would be only to nominate voters for elections to the City corporation. It would not necessarily mean serving on the body, only nomination. I am deeply suspicious—

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