A Matter of Honour Christopher Jewitt 20th February 2017

The Lieutenancy is headed by the Lord-Lieutenant.  One of his or her roles is to vet anyone who has been nominated for the Honours List.

South Yorkshire is very under-represented on the Honours List compared with the London area.

The Honours System originated in Tudor times and the Lord-Lieutenant is the Sovereign’s representative in the County.

His first duty is to uphold the dignity of the Crown.

Since 1921 the Lord-Lieutenant has lost the power to call on all able-bodied men to fight for their country.

Originally all Lord-Lieutenants were ex-military men, but since 1960 non-military men and females can be selected for the post.

The Lord-Lieutenant performs ceremonial and social roles on behalf of the Crown.  He is appointed for life or until he is 75 and the post is honorary and unpaid and he has to provide his own uniform.

Duties of the Lord-Lieutenant.

  • Arrange visits for the Royal Family and escort Royal visitors.
  • Represent the Queen and present medals, honours and awards and issue invitations to Royal garden parties.
  • Assess nominations for Honours, both personal and for Queens Awards.
  • Liaise with local units of military and emergency services.
  • Chair the Magistrates Advisory Committee.

The present Lord-Lieutenant for South Yorkshire is Andrew Coombe.  The Vice Lord-Lieutenant is John Holt and there are more than 30 men and women who are Deputy Lieutenants, one of them being our speaker Christopher Jewitt. The Lieutenant Officer is Mike Smith and the Lieutenant Coordinator is Lorraine Beevers at the Mayor’s Office in Barnsley.

Over the years there have been some ‘scandals’ about businessmen being honoured so in 1993 John Major introduced reforms.  He ended automatic awarding of honours and allowed public nominations.  In 2005 tony Blair’s government wanted more transparency and introduced independent Chairs and made sure that independent members of the Honours Committee were in the majority.

The Honours Lists.

There are two lists per year – the Birthday List and the New Year List.  Honours are awarded to recognise achievement and exceptional service.

There are several elements:     the Prime Minister’s List, the Defence Secretary’s List and the Foreign Secretary’s List.  Then there are Expert Committees for Arts, Media, Science and Technology, Sport, Health, Education, Civil Service, State and Parliamentary all making nominations.  The general public can also make nominations.

The Honours.

  • BEM      awarded for commitment to local charities or for voluntary or innovative work.
  • MBE      awarded for service that is outstanding in its field for the regional or county-wide community.
  • CBE       awarded for service that is outstanding in its field for the national community.
  • Knight/Dame    awarded for recognition by a peer group.
  • Companion of Honour

The Honours that were awarded in the 2016 New YearList.

There were 1196 awards of which 329 were BEM, 472 were MBE and 243 were OBE.  Honours awarded in South Yorkshire made up only 2% of the U.K. list.  Chris thinks that this area is missing out because we do not nominate enough people from the County for Honours for whatever reason.  Perhaps we are slightly suspicious of anyone who lives south of Watford Gap?  It seems that Honours are not distributed fairly around the country.

Those who are missing out are:

  • Women
  • The North of England and the Midlands
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Retail and Service sectors   (Bosses of big companies get Knighthoods and CBEs but the small business entrepreneurs don’t.)

The public in South Yorkshire should be nominating more candidates for Honours.

You can do so by:

  • going to www.gov.uk/honours
  • being prepared to submit at least two independent letter of support
  • being patient – it can take 2 years
  • not using any person or company that says they can increase your chances of success