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Record Copies of Acts

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:24 pm on 20th April 2016.

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Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Conservative, Aldridge-Brownhills 6:24 pm, 20th April 2016

I rise to support my hon. Friend Mr Gray, who has been fighting the good fight to maintain the 1,000-year tradition of using vellum for the printing and preservation of Acts of Parliament. I confess that I have a vested interest: I successfully took a private Member’s Bill through this place and it became an Act of Parliament. However, you will be pleased to hear, Mr Speaker, that there will be no jokes about Peter Pan and Wendy this evening.

When I first came to this place, I was—I often still am—bemused by its many traditions, but they are an integral part of everything that makes this place the mother of all Parliaments. The use of vellum is one such tradition. In a world of fast-moving technology, which we have heard about this afternoon, and of improvements in printing and processing techniques, and document storage, I agree that it is only right to review the practices for printing record copies of public Acts. Some might call me a dinosaur, but I do not think that there is anything wrong with holding on to a tradition of history.

Printing on vellum is a long-standing tradition. Record copies of public Acts have been printed on vellum since 1849. Vellum is far more durable than paper, even archival paper. Without vellum, as we have heard, we would not have Magna Carta, the Domesday Book, the Lindisfarne documents or many other important historical documents.

Time is pressing, so I will conclude my comments there, except to add that the anticipated savings do not justify a departure from this long-standing tradition. Although the world is, indeed, changing, it is important that we do not lose some of our great traditions, so we should not let the use of vellum simply die out.