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Parliament publishes commemorative publication exploring its role during the First World War

3 November 2016


The House of Commons Library has published a new book charting Parliament's involvement in the First World War. Forming part of Parliament's commemorations of the centenary of WW1 the publication examines the role Parliament played in the war and gives voice to several people whose lives were touched by the conflict.

Parliament and the First World War

264 MPs served in the First World War, with 22 of them losing their lives. Many more MP's sons and Parliament staff were also killed.

During this period, important legislation was passed by Parliament that had a fundamental impact on the military strategy of the war and wider social changes taking place at home. This publication explores the influence Parliament had during the war and the people who helped to ensure democracy played such a central role in decisions and debate.

The publication examines the role played by a diverse range of figures, including Lord Crawford, the first Lord to enlist as a private and the only Cabinet Minister to serve in the ranks, and Margaret Haig Thomas, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, suffragette and egalitarian feminist and daughter of an MP, who survived the sinking of the Lusitania, promoted women's work during the war and was a successful businesswoman and magazine proprietor.

Other, less well known, lives are examined too, such as the Girl Porters, who were employed in the House of Commons to deliver mail between offices during labour shortages in the First World War and who were the first women employed the House of Commons who were not either cleaning or kitchen staff.

Rt Hon Keith Simpson MP, Joint Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Commemorating the First World War, said:

"This publication brings together considerable research by Parliamentary staff and shows the role of Parliament during the First World War, including legislation and debates, and the service of Parliamentarians and staff in the armed forces and on the Home Front, including those who were conscientious objectors. It should be a useful guide and provide a resource for members of the public and especially schools"

Rt Hon Lord Wallace of Saltaire, Joint Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Commemorating the First World War, says:

"MPs and peers returned from the front to debate, often in uniform, the issues of strategy and supply that shaped Britain's war effort.  Zeppelins attacked London, while questions of civil liberties, conscientious objection, war profiteering, and conscription jostled with enquiries into military setbacks.  This book sets out some of the human stories behind Parliament's wartime involvement."

Further Information

More information about Parliament's role in the World War One and the commemorations taking place to mark the centenary can be found on the Living Heritage pages of Parliament's website.

Image: PA