Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 19 February

ONE challenging aspect of being an MP is trying to get your head around the many and varied traditions in the House of Commons.

Nobody does pomp and ceremony quite like the British, and the codes of behaviour, dress and language in Parliament are an important part of our national heritage.

But sometimes, tradition can go too far and an obsession with observing the rituals of the past only serves to show just how out of touch some officials in Westminster really are.

One of the strangest stories to come from Parliament this week was the news that the Cabinet Office will provide the funds needed to continue printing the UK’s laws on vellum (paper made from calf or goat skin).

This is despite a review by the House of Lords which concluded that scrapping the practice could save up to £80,000 a year.

This figure might be a little hard to swallow for the victims of budget cuts where the Government has not been quite so sentimental.

If, like me, the Cabinet Office had spoken to people in Rochdale who have been hit by the bedroom tax, welfare cuts or the loss of council services - they would have learned that the official use of animal skin is nowhere near the list of priorities for hard working families.

I can think of few better examples of the “Westminster Bubble” than splashing tens of thousands of pounds on premium paper while food bank use remains at record levels.

Showing respect for the past serves no purpose if it actively alienates the people we were elected to represent in the present.

So while the traditionalist might be pleased to keep their calf-skin, the ordinary man on the street could be forgiven for thinking it’s a load of old bull.

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