Sunderland MP slams scrapping of calf skin to print British laws

Sharon Hodgson
Sharon Hodgson
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A Wearside MP has hit out at the decision to to scrap the use of calf skin to print Acts of Parliament.

In a move likely to enrage animal rights campaigners, Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson spoke out against the decision to stop using vellum to print new laws had been scrapped without a debate in the House of Commons.

Mrs Hodgson said the use of vellum to print Acts of Parliament is a centuries-old practice that requires highly-skilled craft training and contributes to the heritage industry in the UK.

Vellum is also often used for special heirlooms and celebratory documents, including for family events and certificates.

Fears had earlier been raised by MPs over the future of vellum, and the Speaker, John Bercow MP, said a decision would have to be made on the floor of the House of Commons.

A committee of MPs found £80,000 could be saved by using paper instead of vellum for formally recording Acts of Parliament.

Ms Hodgson raised a point of order on the issue when she found a decision to end the use of vellum had been made without such a debate.

She said: "All of our most important historical documents, from the Magna Carta to the Lindisfarne Gospels, have been made by using vellum and because of this have lasted through the ages so that future generations can appreciate and understand our shared history.

“That is why it was disappointing that such an important decision with ramifications on the future of the craft and the conservation of our history was pushed through without any prior consent of the House of Commons and instead using a ruling made by the House of Lords from over sixteen years ago – which was rejected by the House of Commons at the time – to push forward on this change.

“I appreciate what Mr Speaker had to say in regards to the advice he gave me during my Point of Order and will take it into consideration to ensure that we can continue our campaign to preserve this important craft heritage into the future.”