The British Parliament is going to stop writing its laws on vellum, a material made from calfskin that lasts for a very long time. For hundreds of years Acts of Parliament have been inscribed on the unusual material but British MP Sharon Hodgson has discovered a plan to start writing them on paper instead — and she’s not very happy about it.
Hodgson feels that there is something special about vellum and asked if there was a way to register her opposition to its discontinuation. Here is what Hodgson said in the House of Commons on February 9, the added emphasis is ours:
It has been brought to my attention that the use of vellum — the calfskin material on which Acts of Parliament are printed — is to be discontinued, with Parliament giving 30 days’ notice to cease to the printers … May I therefore seek your guidance on what should be done now in order that Members from across the House can register their opposition to the decision and make the case for the continued use of vellum, especially in the light of significant disputes over the so-called savings that have been cited by the Administration Committee and influenced its recommendation to end the centuries-old practice of using vellum to print this country’s legislation? Surely we think that the legislation that we make in this place — the mother of all Parliaments — is worthy of nothing less.
If you don’t know what vellum is, it is pretty incredible stuff. Made from calf-skin, it is stretched, scraped, and treated by highly-skilled workers to create a material that lasts for a very long time. One of the oldest complete copies of the bible, the Codex Vaticanus, is written on Vellum.
So, why is parliament getting rid of it? A House of Lords spokesperson told the Telegraph that switching to special archive paper will save £80,000 a year.
You can watch a video showing the month long process of making a sheet of vellum below.
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