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Coronavirus Bill: History tells us that governments do not often surrender new powers they have obtained

Temporary measures must not legitimise a permanent shift towards authoritarian state control

By Kenneth O Morgan   May 2020

Photo: PA Archive

“Probably the most drastic powers that have ever been put to the Commons,” a Conservative leader declared. Not Boris Johnson announcing in 2020 that we were all on a war footing, however, but Bonar Law in March 1915 when we really were at war. He was broadly endorsing the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) which had swept through parliament nem. con. on 8th August 1914, four days into the Great War. The Act later went through six amended versions,…

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