The government is to force fashionable architects to do their bit for Austerity Britain by working pro bono on public buildings, we can reveal.
Why not? Michael Gove wants to force well-heeled lawyers to prop up our degraded justice system. We look forward to the principle being extended to other professions: prosperous bean counters marched into the vestry to do the church accounts?
More seriously, there are numerous elephants in the room here. We have a workable system for obliging the prosperous to pay for the public good: general taxation. Those who earn the most pay most (in theory, anyway).
Perhaps Gove will confiscate 10% of the net profits of the magic circle. Or, more likely, will a principle be established that the more you make, the more pro bono you do? In that event, will the M&A lawyer be expected to rush off halfway through a deal, to handle a child custody case? How will the singular skillsets that City lawyers possess meet the demands of poorer people locked out of the civil justice system?
We should at least be grateful that the lord chancellor recognises the problem of ‘two-nation’ justice. But solving it without a generous cash infusion (inconceivable) is hardly as simple as he makes it sound.