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The Free Press
written by "Belloc, Hilaire, 1870-1953"
... employ a lawyer at every turn, and that at a cost quite unknown anywhere else in Europe. But this power of the legal guild, qua guild, in modern England is supplemented by further administrative and arbitrary powers attached to a selected number of its members. Now the Lawyers' Guild has latterly become (to its own hurt as it will find) hardly[Pg 74] distinguishable from the complex of professional politics. One need not be in Parliament many days to discover that most laws are made and all revised by members of this Guild. Parliament is, as a drafting body, virtually a Committee of Lawyers who are indifferent to the figment of representation which still clings to the House of Commons. It should be added that this part of their work is honestly done, that the greatest labour is devoted to it, and that it is only consciously tyrannical or fraudulent when the Legal Guild feels itself to be in danger. But far more important than the legislative power of the Legal Guild (which is now the chief framer of statutory law as it has long been the salutary source of common law) is its executive or governing power. Whether after exposing a political scandal you shall or shall not be subject to the risk of ruin or loss of liberty, and all the exceptionally cruel scheme of modern imprisonment, depends negatively upon the Legal Guild. That is, so long as the lawyers support the politicians you have no redress, and only in[Pg 75] case of independent action by the lawyers against the politicians, with whom they have come to be so closely identified, have you any opportunity for discussion and free trial. The old idea of the lawyer on the Bench protecting the subject against the arbitrary power of the executive, of the judge independent of the government, has nearly disappeared. You may, of course, commit any crime with impunity if the professional politicians among the lawyers refuse to prosecute. But that is only a negative evil. More s...

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