Let us not be hasty in condemning price-competitive tendering. It may not be the way forward for criminal defence services, but it could have useful application in other spheres, most obviously in the selection of politicians.

Applying the proposed model to the House of Commons would reduce the number of MPs by 75%. The cost of elections could be saved because the public would no longer be able to choose their representative MP. Candidates would submit bids for the remaining seats in the House on the basis of a price competition capped at an MP’s salary as fixed 10 years or so ago, less 17.5%. If successful they would represent ‘constituents’ randomly allocated to them without regard to local geographical realities. They would be relieved of the present tedious necessity of pretending to take seriously the concerns of their constituents.

Oh, and by the way, candidates would: be required to undergo five years’ training; be subject to a CPD requirement; be subject to supervisory regulation if they committed crimes, ignored conflicts of interest or fiddled the taxpayers’ money for their expenses; have to pay for a certificate entitling them to appear in the House; and take out compulsory insurance in case they did any harm.

Not that bad really, is it?

John Bunting, Bunting & Riley, Buxton, Derbyshire