BUSINESS QUESTION – ANTI-WAR MARCHES – 13 February 2003

Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Leader of the House recall the very large anti-nuclear protest marches of the early 1980s, some of which he may even have supported before he modernised himself? Does he recall that the largest of them, in October 1983, was shown by scientific aerial survey to be only a quarter of the strength of the 400,000 turnout claimed? On the return of the House, may we have a ministerial statement – if necessary a written one – as to what measures will have been adopted to ensure that Saturday's protest is accurately counted so that false claims cannot be made in the way that they are traditionally always claimed for such protest marches?

[Robin Cook: I really think that the time has come to draw the curtain on how many people attended the demonstration in 1983. As to the forthcoming demonstration on Saturday, it is, of course, part of the tradition of such demonstrations that there should be a variance in the estimates coming from the police and those taking part. I do no not wish to interfere with that tradition.]