[Although this is ham-fisted satire, all of the quotations from the Parliament Public Accounts Committee report on legal aid reforms are actually true. They really did say this stuff]
The Lord Chancellor today, whilst standing in front of one of the four surviving copies of Magna Carta and drawing on it with a thick black crayon, announced the latest reforms to the English justice system.
“Having been criticised by the Public Accounts Committee for our current reforms, it has become clear to me that I have been too timid, and the time has come to introduce the Swiss model of justice”
Gems in the Public Accounts Committee critique of the last set of reforms include :-
‘Almost two years after the reforms, the Ministry is still playing catch up: it does not know if those still eligible are able to access legal aid; and it does not understand the link between the price it pays for legal aid and the quality of advice being given. Perhaps most worryingly of all, it does not understand, and has shown little interest in, the knock-on costs of its reforms across the public sector. It therefore does not know whether the projected £300 million spending reduction in its own budget is outweighed by additional costs elsewhere. The Department therefore does not know whether the savings in the civil legal aid budget represent value for money.’
The Ministry admits that it still has little understanding of why people go to court and how and why people access legal aid.
Contrary to its assurances to Parliament, the Ministry does not know whether people who are eligible for legal aid are able to get it.
“In short, there is not a lot the Ministry does know.”
So, what exactly is the Swiss model that the Lord Chancellor plans to roll out? Here are his words in his speech, which was sent out with his annotations in italics.
“People have said to me that my reforms have rolled back the clock to Victorian times, that these are Nineteenth Century policies. To which I say – that’s a start. But we can do more. Let’s go right back to the Fourteenth Century.
The Swiss people are known for their watch-making, ski-resorts, banking and their fine chocolate – any product the Swiss make is intricate, rich with quality and with precise smooth workings. [Note – stay away from any reference to cheese, in case people suggest the policy is ‘full of holes’]
This sort of quality is exactly what I intend to bring to the English justice system when I borrow from the Swiss system. Fourteenth Century style.
“Let’s get medieval on their ass” [Note – has Tarantino got back to us with clearance for that quote yet? If not, use air quote fingers when saying it]
Why, do you know that at the moment, the amount that we spend on justice every year would be enough to pay for every single illegal immigrant to live in Disneyland Paris for ten years and that our fat-cat legal aid lawyers earn more in a week than Pablo Picasso earned in his entire lifetime. The pensions for many of these snout-in-the-trough lawyers mean that in practice, they are able to retire before they have even finished taking their A Levels. [Note – do not get lured into providing a source for these ‘statistics’]
We can do better, we must do better and we will do better. Let us look to the Swiss and their innovations in law [Note, ignore the Geneva Convention – oh , sorry the Americans have already beaten us to it in ignoring that]
From now on, our system of people in wigs talking Latin and Judges ruling against me will be replaced by a smooth as silk Swiss model.
Any person accused by the state of doing anything naughty will be brought to the nearest town square, and given a crossbow. There, they will attempt to shoot an apple off the head of their eldest child without harming a hair on their head.
The same model will apply in all civil claims, probate, divorces, and family claims. Get the kid in, put the apple in place, shoot that off .
If successful, they will win the case. (unless they have brought a judicial review against me, in which case the apple will be a grape, held between the teeth of their eldest child. And the eldest child will be on a bouncy castle. And the claimant will have to make the shot whilst on a unicycle. After nine pints of snakebite. In the dark. Left-handed. Best out of fifteen. Whilst being tickled. )
But, you say to me, won’t introducing this marvellous new Swiss system require a huge capital investment to make the changes? Can we afford to go Swiss?
We can’t afford NOT to go Swiss, is what I say.
I have anticipated that. By selling off all of our Court buildings and forcibly retiring all Judges and sacking all lawyers apart from the ones I use, the Government can fund apples and crossbow bolts and still achieve a 99% saving on the current budget. And Golden Delicious have already made a lucrative sponsorship offer, with the possibility of partnership with Granny Smith also on the horizon.
The Swiss system has the additional benefit in that there are no appeals. If the accused /claimant cannot make the shot, then the case is over. Also the taxpayer will not have to fund the accused’s dependent children during the period of imprisonment.
There may be some on-costs of mopping for any trials that don’t end in a not guilty verdict, but we have been approached by a Countess Bathory and some Romanian aristocrats who are interested in bulk purchase of blood, which ought to recoup those costs.
I know that looney left-wing do-gooders and vested interests may be saying to themselves “Hey Chris, using first born children as apple-holding instruments of justice and risking their lives just to save costs – that’s cruel”
And I say to those do-gooders – you know the old saying “If you can’t do the time, do lots and lots of archery practice before you do the crime”
The Swiss model, when we tested and rolled it out in Nottingham, did have two minor flaws. The first was that for childless offenders, it was something of a licence to wreak havoc – but many parts of that city are no longer burning. The second was that Phil the Power Taylor is now a criminal overlord whom the law is powerless to touch, having been acquitted nineteen separate times, and who with his band of merry darters is stealing most of the cost savings that the scheme managed to implement.
Nonetheless, I am satisfied that a national rollout will solve all of these problems and that the new justice system will no longer be an ‘arrowing experience. [pause for laughs and warm applause. Resist any request by journalists to put an apple on own head]
[Musical references for this piece would be either Pulling Mussels from the shell by Squeeze “Behind the chalet, my holiday’s complete, and I feel like William Tell, Maid Marian on her tiptoed feet” or the more frenetic Bug powder dust by Bomb the Bass/Justin Warfield “I always hit the apple when I’m going to shoot / so you can call me William Tell or Agent Cooper to boot” and later on the wonderful “I got a splinter though, damn, you know man it hurt / I got a Vegemite sandwich from Men at Work”
They’re both great, listen to both of them. ]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAHueb8j0wI&index=10&list=PLfFETal_82YoiPI3WtDcTpJZhHskPgRvp – I recommend LOUD and at home.