Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Why we need to keep printing the Acts of Parliament on Vellum

Vellum making a 2000 year process
What do paper, tape cassettes, CD ROMs, photographic paper, 35mm slides, hard drives, USB sticks all have in common as storage media? Answer : they will all fail as permanent storage media over time, for one reason or another. There is one media that will out last them all - vellum.

Vellum’s what the Magna Carta was written on in 1215 and it’s what the laws of England are written on today, 2115, 900 years later. In fact all the laws of the UK - Acts of Parliament - since 1497 have been printed on vellum.

Vellum has been a medium of record since Bronze age.

There is a move a foot in the House of Commons to save money in Parliament by moving to printing on high quality “archival paper” in order to save £27,000 - the difference between the cost of printing on  paper and printing and vellum. We need to protest now against this short sighted move.

Unrolling the 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll printed on vellum
with images just as bright today as they were in 1511
Section from the 60foot 1511 Westminster Tournament Roll - drawn on vellum
Vellum printed documents are for the ages. I speak as one who has had the pleasure of handling at first hand the 700 year old Domesday Abbreviato, it survived only because it was written  on vellum, further I was allowed to handle it as vellum documents benefit from the natural oils in human hands (unlike paper!).

Vellum is the natural media for documents to last the ages. Vellum can last 2,000 years plus while “archival paper” is only 250 years without an expensive air conditioned environment to ensure. So we should fight to keep vellum.

Vellum's been on TV and Radio indecent weeks -  listen into Jeremy Vine where Paul Wright from Crowley the last remaining vellum manufacturer will be talking, Paul has already made the case for vellum on BBC2's Newsnight.

We need to  Paul and Crowley’s to continue to have our Acts of Parliament printed on Vellum.

Write to you MP and talk part in the petition to have the MPs reconsider.

On line Petition to save vellum
To finish -  Why do we use vellum for some documents?  (Thanks to Paul Wright ) We use vellum for the same reasons  we use Bronze, Silver and Gold medals in the Olympics - we consider these things to be important , worthy of note so we use the finest materials available.

Sign the petition, write to your MP let’s keep the Acts of Parliament on vellum for future generations!