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Invasion Warning

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 22 April 1943

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46.

asked the Prime Minister what arrange- ment have been made to replace the ringing of church bells as a warning of invasion?

We have come to the conclusion that this particular method of warning was redundant, and not in itself well adapted to the present conditions of the war.

Will my right hon. Friend say what alternative arrangements have been made? Will he consider the use of sirens?

I said that we came to the conclusion that this particular method was redundant. Therefore replacement does not arise. For myself, I cannot help feeling that anything like a serious invasion would be bound to leak out.

Is the Prime Minister anticipating an invasion between now and the next birthday of Hitler?

The improbability of invasion depends on the high degree of preparation maintained in this country.

How can the news possibly leak out when it is an offence to spread alarm and despondency?

Factual statements of that kind, especially if well-intentioned, would not fall within that category.

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Secretary of State for War told me only three weeks ago that the sounding of church bells as an invasion warning was the only signal he could think of?

The matter has been exhaustively reviewed, and the Secretary of State fully accepts the conclusion come to.

Since permission has been given to ring the bells at certain appointed hours of service, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that they would still be an effective warning if they were rung, say, in the middle of the night?

The significance of invasion no longer attaches to the ringing of bells.