It is Budget Day. So banish unworthy thoughts.

You may be sure of one thing. When Gordon Brown approached Bill Gates, BP's Lord Browne, James Wolfensohn the former head of the World Bank, LVMH's Bernard Arnault, Robert Rubin, once US Treasury Secretary, and all the others to join Alan Greenspan in a Business Advisory Council, he never let on to them that he would use their illustrious names in a pre-Budget stunt.

So it wasn't a stunt. Announcing the Council yesterday, he wasn't softening us up for a name-dropping Budget speech today.

The timing was a coincidence, nothing to do with nurturing the image of our Chancellor as a world figure, whatever carping critics quibble about this shortcoming or that in his economic management in these last years since he became a big spender.

Or perhaps he was. We shall discover this afternoon. Will he, won't he, milk their formidable names for all they are worth?

Cheap politics apart, they are a remarkable collection.

They are certainly not joining Mr Brown's council for the money. Nor to let him dispel the impression that he has become anti-business. Nor because they were flattered to be included in such lofty company. They are anyway.

What they have in common is, first, all are very seriously rich.

With two, possibly three, exceptions each could buy multiple peerages to pack the House of Lords with as many of their friends and relations as felt inclined to sit there. Well, they could have until the events of last weekend.

Next, they must think immensely highly of Mr Brown, even at the risk of his bandying their names about in the way that politicians do.

The thing is not a sinecure, either.

They have apparently signed up for three years - well beyond Mr Brown intended change of job - to give him advice for big setpiece occasions. They will all get together once a year, too.

Their stated purpose is to propose ways he can prevent Britain slipping down the world economic league, above all to preserve and develop the City's role as a provider of global financial services in the fast-changing world economy.

There is a logic to this - the English language, a time zone straddling Asia and America, u ndoubted and longestablished skills, a legal system, which for all its evident flaws, is better regarded than most and, hopefully, a reliable regulatory regime.

In terms of markets, the City punches hugely above Britain's global weight, but there is absolutely no guarantee it can continue to do so.

A Government's job in such a situation, is to do more good than harm. Presumably that is where Mr Brown's high-calibre advisers come in. What help they will be in real life is questionable. They cannot be expected to agree.

Is Hong Kong's Li-KaShing likely to find common ground with, say, Jean-Pierre Garnier, who heads GlaxoSmithKline?

Anyway, nine of the 12 are foreigners, including Dr Garnier, who insists on running previously British-dominated GSK from the US.

Why should they wish to do Britain a good turn?