The Rt. Honourable The Lord Mayor, Mr Chairman, Alderman, Members of Common Council, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to thank Peter Hill and everyone at Langbourn Ward Club for their kind invitation to come here today and speak in this Ironmongers Hall which we all appreciate is a wonderful venue. I am in fact a livery man and belong to three livery companies. I totally support the Livery movement which goes back many centuries in the City of London.
I do not think that some people realise the enormous charitable work undertaken by the livery companies. There are at present over 100 livery companies and in 2006 the livery companies donated over 41 million pounds for charitable causes and approximately 80% of the donations were made for welfare and educational purposes.
I may add that some years ago I along with a number of livery men did take sheep over London Bridge and raised over 40,000 pounds for charities. I dressed up as an Arab shepherd which I felt was very appropriate in view of my name.
When I arrived in London I joined Sun Alliance Insurance Group in Bartholomew Lane which is behind The Bank of England. I attained the Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute and started lecturing on part time basis at the City of London College in Moorgate. After spending some years with insurance companies I commenced work with Camberford Law Plc which is an Insurance Brokering organisation. I joined the company as a manager and ended up owning most of it.
I arranged for Camberford Law to become Lloyd’s brokers and when I was looking for premises in the City, I decided to have offices in the Royal Exchange and someone said to me that you started your insurance career in Bartholomew Lane and you have gone full circle and have an office across the road from Bartholomew Lane.
At Camberford Law we have produced and marketed a number of specialised schemes and in fact over a period of three years we won or were highly commended on 12 major insurance awards. One of our specialist schemes is for security companies and Peter Hill was at one time the senior underwriter with Trinity Insurance Company and he was writing our Insurance Scheme for the Security Companies. This is when I first met Peter. Peter is a typical first class City underwriter, he has a sharp mind, assesses the risks quickly and puts forward the underwriting terms.
Over 80% of Camberford Laws business is written at Lloyds and in the London Market. I have a deep rooted and a strong connection with the City of London and when I was elevated to the House of Lords I took the title of Baron Sheikh of Cornhill in the City of London.
I speak frequently at international conferences and I always where ever I can extol the virtues and promote the City of London.
I joined the Conservative Party and within a period of less than two years I was elevated to The House of Lords this was a great surprise as I had not undertaken any lobbying and I was a new comer to the political scene. I am an active Peer and take part regularly in the proceedings of the House of Lords. Over the period of last year I have spoken in the House of Lords 33 times on a variety of subjects. For example over the last four weeks I have spoken on Welfare Reform Bill, Apprenticeship Bill, Policing Bill, Iraq and The Armed Forces. I have tabled a number of written and oral questions.
I feel that some people do not realise the important and the varied work undertaken by the House of Lords. Our activities can broadly divided into three categories.
Firstly we make laws and spend 66% of our time in the Chamber checking and revising legislation. Each line in the proposed Bill is scrutinised and we will table amendments whereby there can be improvements in the proposed Bill.
Secondly we play a key role in looking at what the government is doing and hold Ministers to account for their decisions and actions. We do so by asking questions, responding to statements and holding debates.
Thirdly the members of House of Lords use their broad experience and expertise to investigate wide ranging subjects, scrutinise executive actions and shape public policy. There are a number of Committees set up to look at various subjects and I am in a fact at present a member of the Select Committee which is scrutinising the draft Bribery Bill. It must be emphasised that in the House of Lords we have members who have expertise in different subjects and have reached the pinnacle in their professions or careers.
I have spoken in the House of Lords on the subject of economy and the Financial Services Industry. Prior to the credit crunch I had expressed concern at the state of the economy and very high borrowing and indebtedness.
I think that we will all agree that the current crisis has been caused by excessive and easy lending by financial institutions, sale and purchase of sub prime mortgages. The culture within part of British banking has been of risk taking which has resulted in the meltdown. The concept of prudence was thrown out of the window and there has been greed and short term practises. The government has bailed out Banks and Building Societies and the crunch has adversely affected the country and people are in dire straits. We have to some extent stabilised the situation but it’s important that we look at how we operate in the future.
The Banks and financial Institutions need to exercise proper housekeeping and better risks management measures. We need to look at regulations but we must not stifle the industry and think carefully before we implement strict regulations. It is imperative that the Banks start lending to businesses particularly the SME’s as they are the backbone of the businesses in the country.
The country relies a lot on Banking and Financial Services as we generate a considerable income and it important that we are up and running again.
I now want to talk about Islamic Banking and Insurance. I am very actively promoting these nationally and internationally. I have spoken on these subjects at various conferences and meetings. The market is now worth 750 billion dollars globally and the annual growth of Islamic finance exceeds 30 percent a year globally and it is the the worlds fastest growing financial sector. United Kingdom comes eighth in the banker’s league and we are the first country in Europe to promote and encourage retail Islamic Banking.
It is our intention to establish Britain as the gateway to International Islamic Finance and be the spring board for penetration into Europe. The Islamic finance and Insurance are based on mutuality, transparency and we undertake a number of social functions.
Islamic Finance and Insurance will hold appeal to Muslims as well as non Muslims because of its ethical concept.
I would like to see more participation in Islamic Insurance which is called Takaful and feel we have a lot to offer for expansion of this industry.
Britain led the world in the field of conventional insurance and we can do so in regard to Islamic Insurance in Europe and we can play a vital role in this field globally.
Ladies and gentlemen can you please be upstanding as I would like to propose a toast to the Langbourn Ward Club.