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15 Oct 2001 : Column: 819W
policy advisers; and what assessment he has made of the implications for civil service neutrality arising from this change. 
The Prime Minister: The Government are committed to maintaining a non-political permanent civil service. They have given a commitment to legislation for the civil service, which will be taken forward as and when a suitable opportunity arises.
The Prime Minister: I have discussed the Kyoto protocol with President Bush on a number of occasions, including at the EU-US summit in Gothenburg in June and at the G8 summit in Genoa in July. I made it clear that the Government remain committed to the Kyoto protocol and to the EU's aim of ratification and entry into force by 2002. We agreed that climate change is a serious issue and that we would continue to work together to address it.
The Prime Minister: I have discussed national missile defence (NMD) with President Bush on a number of occasions, and expect to continue to do so. I have made the Government's position clear on NMD and I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin) on 4 July 2001, Official Report, column 256.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Prime Minister if the military intelligence that has been shared with key partners in the military alliance for action in Afghanistan has been shared with the UN Secretary-General. 
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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Prime Minister for what reason responsibility for the tourism industry is allocated to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; and for what reason this responsibility is exercised at Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State level. 
The Prime Minister: Tourism fits well with the wider responsibilities of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. These include areas such as the historic environment, museums and galleries, sport and the arts which attract tourists to come to the United Kingdom.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has overall responsibility for the tourism industry. Following normal Government practice, day-to- day responsibility has been delegated to the Minister for Tourism, Film and Broadcasting.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Prime Minister prior to his decision on the nature and terms of reference of an inquiry into foot and mouth disease, if he will consult (a) parish, district and county councils in affected areas, (b) representatives of the tourist industry, (c) animal welfare organisations, (d) the NFU, CLA and other farming organisations and (e) hon. Members. 
The Prime Minister: I met my G8 colleagues in Genoa from 20 to 22 July. The summit was an important opportunity to discuss a wide range of international issues. The conclusions of the summit were placed in the Libraries of the House at the time.
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The Government believe that a new trade round would provide significant economic benefits. The European Commission has estimated that a truly liberalising new round could boost the world economy by $400 billion a year. Of this, between $100 million and $150 billion could go to developing countries.
In Genoa, we met the leaders of five African countries, as well as representatives of Latin America and Asia. Their priorities are similar to those of the G8ending conflict, increasing trade and foreign investment, improving governance, health and education, implementing debt relief and closing the digital divide.
We welcomed the readiness among African leaders to take responsibility for resolving the problems in their continent. We agreed to appoint senior personal representatives to meet the leaders of the new African initiative, and to produce a plan of action between now and next year's summit in Canada.
On poverty reduction for developing countries, the G8 committed over $1.3 billion to a new global health fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and welcomed a further $500 million pledged by other partners. We shall work with the United Nations and other stakeholders to make sure the fund is up and running by the end of this year. The UK Government have already pledged $200 million to the health fund.
The Prime Minister: I visited Argentina on 1 August and had talks with President de la Rua. Our discussions covered international trade and investment issues, the Argentine economy, climate change and UK/Argentine bilateral relations. President de la Rua and I reaffirmed our commitment to continue our dialogue on issues of common interest.
The Prime Minister: I met President de la Rua on 1 August. We both reaffirmed our Governments' commitment to the joint statement of July 1999, and to continue our dialogue on issues of common interest. This does not affect our sovereignty of the Falkland Islands or our commitment to the Islanders' rights to determine their own future. There will be no change in the status of the Islands unless that is the wish of the Islanders themselves.
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Members' correspondence, (b) correspondence from members of the public and (c) written parliamentary questions in the (i) Commons and (ii) Lords; 
The effective handling of correspondence and PQs is an issue to which I, and ministerial colleagues, attach great importance. I take an active interest in the way my office deals with all letters sent to me. I receive approximately 500,000 items of post a year compared with an estimated 25,000 items received annually six years ago. My office takes action on all letters received within 15 working days.
General information on the volumes of correspondence received across Whitehall and an overall performance is published by the Cabinet Office. Figures for 2000 were published on 6 April 2001, Official Report, columns 32428W and on 19 July 2001, Official Report, columns 45456W.
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