Business club meeting - House of lords reception
A large number of members from the London Southside Chamber of Commerce, attended a reception in the House of Lords this week hosted by Lord Ahmed of Rotherham. The Lord Shaikh was also present as well as Alderman Lashari.
Gerry MacDonagh, Executive Director of London Southside Chamber (LSCC), opened the evening by speaking about the Chamber's support for small and medium-sized businesses in London and the encouragement it was giving them to develop overseas trade.
He added that it was astonishing that the Chamber was now in its 24th year. It was one of the most active in the country and its members range from small owner-managed businesses to large corporations.
Ikram Khan, a Director of LSCC and also the longest serving Director of UK Pakistan Chamber of Commerce (UKPCCI), spoke on the close relationship he has helped to develop between the two Chambers. Members of UKPCCI now regularly participate in the trade missions organised by London Southside. He pointed out successful trade missions have been run to nearly forty countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.
Regarding the history of the House of Lords, he commented on its evolution from inception until the present day. He said that the Lords had once been all powerful but today its relevance was being called into question. He also pointed to the difference between the past, when Lords were privileged and all powerful but now very many of them - like the Lords Ahmed and Sheikh were people's lords.
Lord Shaikh then gave an explanation that he and his colleague,
Lord Ahmed, were working lords. He then explained in detail the
workings of the House of Lords and its importance to the democratic
process. He pointed out the expertise of peers in a wide range of
fields and drew attention to the fact that they had much greater
independence in voting that did MPs, who were subject to pressure
from their party whips.
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, who chaired the meeting, elaborated further and gave his support and admiration to Lord Sheikh and indeed all the other lords on how they took on large workloads with relatively small remuneration.
It was explained that Lord Sheikh travelled all over the world, using his political status to help develop trade links. His philosophy was that you have to give something in order to get trade and he has done so. He is planning to visit Iran to help develop trade relations, which are currently almost non-existent with that country. He said it is vitally important that trading and political initiatives work together and compliment each other. They cannot exist in isolation. He was delighted to see the work being done by LSCC and offered his full support with the chamber's efforts. He also said he would be pleased to arrange the use of House of Lords rooms for future chamber meetings
An MP, Yasmin Qureshi, then spoke on the subject of alleviating
world poverty. However, while she was speaking the Division Bell
for the House of Commons rang, followed shortly - but more loudly -
by the one for the House of Lords resulting in both MPS and Lords
having to leave to cast their votes.
Our co-ordinator, Alderman Lashari, took over and conducted a lively question and answer session. He also explained the procedures of the House of Lords and the significance of the architectural and decorative features of the building.
Following the formalities, LSCC members were invited to stay and
network or visit other parts of the building.