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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 20th April 2016.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office 6:46 pm, 20th April 2016

It is only because of the careful management of public finances that we can preserve and safeguard our best traditions.

My hon. Friend Chris Skidmore brought his great and deep expertise to the debate, and told us why Dr Porck thinks we should print on goatskin. For that insight, I thank him. I also pay tribute to the speech by my hon. Friend David Warburton, which was powerful and rhetorical, and made the point succinctly. All I think I can safely say about the speech by Melanie Onn is that she managed in her remarks to oppose the very material on which her own town’s charter is printed. I never expected to say this in the House, but her speech made me think, “Bring back Austin Mitchell.”

Why does this matter? First, because in a world racked by instability, volatility and change, we must safeguard our great traditions. I am an optimist about the power of human ingenuity, innovation and technology, and their ability to transform our lives. I passionately believe that modern invention can radically improve the way we do almost everything in Government. I am responsible for digital transformation and for cyber-security. But this is not a debate that pits tradition against modernity, because a truly modern outlook does not put them up against each other. Novelty is no guarantee of improvement. Traditions matter precisely because they connect us with the collective wisdom of our predecessors. There are times when a tradition should and must be done away with, but traditions should not be broken lightly, especially those of the longest standing, for once discarded, they cannot be replaced easily, and sometimes cannot be replaced at all. Let us combine the best of the old with the best of the new.