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United Kingdom Budget

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:45 pm on 25th March 2010.

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Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat 4:45 pm, 25th March 2010

The cabinet secretary mentioned fuel and rates. It is helpful that he agreed entirely with the view that was expressed to the chancellor yesterday by my Westminster leader, Nick Clegg, who said:

"There is a fundamental problem with fuel duty in rural areas where using a car is not a luxury but a necessity. The real priority should be to help rural areas, not just a ... reprieve."—[Official Report, House of Commons, 24 March 2009; Vol 508, c 271.]

I think that there is agreement about that. Why, in a written answer to me in June last year, did the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, Stewart Stevenson, confirm that the rural petrol station grant scheme, which is now administered by Scottish Enterprise, was being frozen for two years? That amounts to a real-terms cut in funding for the operation of that scheme.

With regard to rates, why has a response to a freedom of information request to the Government, which asked for all the information on why the Government had ruled out a transitional relief scheme for businesses, been denied on the basis that the information should be published within 12 weeks? Do not businesses that face a massive increase in rates, including rural petrol stations in my constituency, deserve a full explanation? That is why the information should be published now, not in three months' time.