Cabinet Office brushes off bleats about vellum


The 1,000-year-old practice of printing laws on goat and calf skin will continue, a minister has said just days after the House of Lords signalled the tradition would end.

Peers said printing two copies of each Act of Parliament, one for the Parliamentary Archives and one for the National Archives, on the parchment known as vellum, was "extremely expensive".

A switch to archival paper, which can survive for up to 500 years, had been expected to save around £80,000 a year.

But Matt Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said the technique was "cost-effective".

He told the Daily Telegraph: "Recording laws on vellum is a millennium-long traditions and surprisingly cost-effective.

"While the world constantly changes, we should safeguard some of our great traditions."

MPs handed the decision to end the practice to peers, who had decided on Wednesday to push ahead with the cost-cutting measure.

But it met with criticism in the House of Commons, with Conservative MP James Gray calling for the "retrograde decision" to be reversed.

The House of Lords also made the decision to end the practice in 1999 but the move was then blocked by MPs.