WHY not just privatise the whole government while we're at it? I am sure there must be businessmen better able to run the country than David Cameron. If the British system of justice that has existed since the Magna Carta can be privatised, as Justice Minister Chris Grayling is proposing, it's all to play for. A pocket cartoon yesterday got it right, with a bewigged lawyer looking at a sign reading “Convict One, Get One Off Free”.

Seriously though: Grayling, the first Justice minister since 1672 to have no legal background whatsoever, plans to save an estimated one billion pounds a year by turning the administration of the Court and Tribunal Service over to private management in order, he says, “to deliver access to justice quickly and effectively while delivering value for money for the taxpapyer”. Ah yes! Value for money! How will he measure that? In the number of convictions and the length of imprisonment? There are certain institutions in any well-ordered country that need to be independent of every outside interest; in Britain, where their number is diminishing alarmingly, the law courts are one of them and must be kept that way. If, after careful examination, the system can be made more efficient and less costly this should be done internally with oversight by ministers and parliament rather than by commercial interests competing for business they know little about.