House of Lords cuts costs by no longer printing acts on goat skin

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

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The ancient tradition of printing laws on vellum will come to an end in March after 1,000 years, the House of Lords has confirmed.

MPs handed the decision to end the 1,000-year-old practice to peers, who are now pushing ahead with the cost-cutting measure.

The ending of the practice will save around �80,000 a year

The ending of the practice will save around �80,000 a year

Switching from goat and calf skin to archival paper, which can survive for up to 500 years, is expected to save around £80,000 a year.

Peers said printing two copies of each Act of Parliament, one for the Parliamentary Archives and one for the National Archives, was “extremely expensive”.

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

A decision by the Commons Administration Committee has since paved the way for the changes to go ahead.

It said the issue was “plainly a matter” for peers and that it was unlikely time would be found to debate it in the Commons, a House of Lords spokesman said.

He added: “We are therefore proceeding to replace vellum with archival paper. It is expected this will save at least £80,000 a year. Archival paper has a lifespan of several hundred years. Acts are now also preserved digitally.

“Currently the oldest paper records in the Lords date back to the early 16th century, and are only a few years younger than the oldest vellum record in the Archives which is an Act of Parliament from 1497.”

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