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Defence of the Realm Act 1914

Discover the fascinating story of Defence of the Realm Act 1914 and the incredible impact it had on British society both during the First World War and the rest of the 20th century.

What was DORA?

When introduced the Defence of the Realm Act 1914, or DORA for short, was a simple act. It was passed in order to control communications, the nation's ports and subject civilians to the rule of military courts. It was amended six times during the course of the war, eventually being used for everything from banning narcotics to censoring the press. It introduced a wide range of  changes in society including prohibition, rationing, the introduction of British Summer Time and the widening of police powers. It was even used to ban bonfires, whistling in the street and flying kites!

One of the key amendments to DORA allowed the Government to seize factories and land to produce the huge amount of munitions and weapons that were needed to win the war. This led to concentration of workers in urban areas, as well as the need for women to enter the workforce in large numbers. The resulting upheaval proved a catalyst for some of the key social changes in Britain during the 20th century.

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The Parliamentary estate has many memorials commemorating members of the House of Lords, the House of Commons and the staff employed by Parliament who have given their lives in service of their country at times of war and other conflicts.

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