THE historic text of the York Mystery Plays should go on display in a city museum like the Bayeux Tapestry is displayed in France, a city councillor has claimed.

Councillor Martin Bartlett was speaking before City of York Council unanimously backed his call for the text to be returned from the British Library to its "true home" in York.

Members also supported his demand for the council to continue providing leadership and support for regular future productions of the Plays in York.

Coun Bartlett, the Liberal Democrat member for Holgate, said: "Whereas many people know about the plight of the so-called Elgin Marbles, few realise that York's most important collection of cultural artefacts is similarly split."

He said the city archives had detailed records of performances, and which guilds were involved, over a period of 200 years. "But there is a crucial document missing. The text of the Plays, often called the Register, is in the British Library."

He claimed the text had been lost through the brutal regime of the Tudors but was the property of the council, and it should be presented and interpreted to as wide an audience as possible.

"I propose something similar to the arrangement at Bayeux, where the public move at leisure through a spacious museum dedicated to the elucidation and interpretation of the tapestry, culminating in a ten-minute view of the tapestry itself," he said.

Such a display would be a new attraction for York, which would stimulate cultural tourism. He believed it could be funded by money from the National Lottery, the lion's share of which was currently being spent in the London area, and also by the Government giving York back a bigger share of the business rate.

"If John Prescott is serious about devolution, he can start by giving us our manuscript back," he said.