While modernisation has been the watchword of the Blair Government, MPs from all sides clashed over a plan to keep copies of Bills in the Public Record Office on paper and on CD-Rom. Nicholas Palmer, the Labour MP for Broxtowe and member of the Administration Committee, urged backbenchers to back the "historical change", which has the support of the Lords, in a free vote, questioning the durability of vellum.
The life expectancy of vellum was often only 250 years, while paper would keep for 500 years, he said. He also cast doubts on claims that CD-Rom needed to be constantly updated to be kept on file, stressing much progress had been made in the field of computer technology.
But Brian White, Labour MP for Milton Keynes North East, in whose constituency is the only printing plant that deals with vellum, warned of the potential job losses.