The Mountbatten Lecture on Wednesday 19 April was delivered by John Cridland CBE. Drawing on his experience as a former Director General of the CBI and as the author of a recent review of the state pension for the government, he spoke about the uncertainties facing the UK economy in 2017.
Mr Cridland introduced his lecture by highlighting that in 1947, it was just ten weeks between Lord Mountbatten, as Viceroy of India, announcing the end of British rule and independence taking place. Drawing on Philip Ziegler’s biography of the Club’s former President, he quoted, ‘He flared brilliantly across the face of the twentieth century; the meteor is extinguished but its glow lingers on in the mind’s eye’. 1947 was a year of uncertainties, and so too is 2017.
Setting out his view that it is possible to build a stronger economy if the right choices are made, Mr Cridland addressed three key themes. Firstly, he spoke about the importance of promoting growth across the country, and the need to address the North / South economic imbalance through improvements in education and transport. His second theme was the need to face up to the challenge of financing our ageing society, including his recommendations that the state pension age should rise to 68, but be accompanied by safeguards for people unable to work to that age. Finally, he talked about the importance of trust in business and his belief that business is a force for good when it puts its customers at its heart.
The presentation was followed by questions from the large audience on issues ranging from protectionism, the national debt and the Brexit negotiations to tax payments by multinationals and how to raise standards in education.
You can download Mr Cridland’s speech here.
The next Mountbatten Lecture will be by Sir John Sawers GCMG – the former head of MI6 – on Thursday 5 October.