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Dr. Reid: The Government plan to improve rail services through their 10-year transport plan. This is based on a long-term investment by Government and business to modernise the country's transport system and includes £60 billion to improve the national rail network with new track, signalling, stations and rolling stock. This is the biggest investment in railways for generations which will undoubtedly benefit Scotland by delivering better quality for the travelling public as well as lower regulated fares.
20. Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the consequences of the aggregates levy for the Scottish quarrying industry. 
Mr. Wilson: My right hon. Friend has regular contact with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss a wide range of matters. The aggregates levy will bring about environmental benefits by making the price of aggregates
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21. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding the impact of a single European currency on the Scottish economy. 
Dr. Reid: I have regular discussions with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on a wide range of issues, including the healthy state of the Scottish economy. The Government's policy on membership of the single currency remains as set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in October 1997, and restated by the Prime Minister in February 1999. The determining factor underpinning any Government decision is whether the economic benefits from the UK joining are clear and unambiguous.
22. Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry regarding the future of rural post offices. 
We are in full agreement that post offices in rural areas make a vital contribution to the local community. That is why the package of post office reforms announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 28 June included a commitment to ensuring that the Post Office prevents all avoidable closures of rural post offices, with Government support being provided where needed.
23. Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has to stimulate economic activity in those areas in Scotland ineligible for regional selective assistance; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Reid: Proposals for the assisted areas map, which defines areas of the UK eligible for regional selective assistance, balance needs and opportunities and represent a very fair deal for Scotland. All areas of Scotland will benefit from the strong performance of the economy and its prospects for future growth. Responsibility for particular measures to stimulate economic activity is a matter for the Scottish Executive.
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24. Miss Begg: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the measures being taken by the Government to promote the export opportunities of Scotland's oil and gas industry businesses. 
Mr. Wilson: The Government continue to work hard to identify and promote export opportunities for the oil and gas industry through such initiatives as Pilot, the Government/industry forum. Export promotion is particularly important, and I was happy to address the Caspian Oil and Gas Conference in Baku last month. Earlier this year I was able to promote our expertise in the oil and gas sector during a visit to the Far East.
28. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Advocate-General what assessment she has made of the number of additional cases expected to be brought under the European convention on human rights when it comes into force; and if she will make a statement. 
The Advocate-General for Scotland: The Government anticipate that the vast majority of convention points will be raised in existing cases rather than new cases. This is certainly the experience in Scotland over the last year. It is expected that a significant number of convention points will be raised following implementation of the Human Rights Act in October, but it is anticipated that the number of challenges will be reduced when the higher courts determine the basis on which the Act and convention are to be applied.
Jane Kennedy: No. The Government's policy is that magistrates courts are best managed locally. Decisions concerning the future of magistrates courts in Essex are for the Essex Magistrates Courts Committee to determine, in consultation with its local paying authority.
The LAPG invited 5,000 firms to take part in the week of action by suggesting that they write to the Lord Chancellor's Department. To date, my Department has received letters from about one in 100 firms invited to
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take part in the action. The Lord Chancellor is confident that solicitors will agree that, in future, constructive consultation on remuneration will be more productive than proposals of non-co-operation with the Legal Services Commission.
Mr. Lock: The Community Legal Service is funded by local authorities, the Legal Services Commission, the National Lottery Charities Board and a host of other organisations. The different funders are now coming together in Community Legal Service Partnerships to plan and co-ordinate the local provision of services, based on meeting local needs and priorities.
Jane Kennedy: When determining appeals, the Lord Chancellor looks for evidence that the MCC has followed the Central Council of Magistrates Courts Committees good practice guide. Issues to be considered: accessibility for court users, the facilities available, costs of necessary renovations to bring the court up to standard, the provision of courtrooms and workload, extra travelling distances, additional costs and overall efficiency.
Mr. Lock: Judicial training is the responsibility of the Judicial Studies Board. All judges receive induction training on appointment and continuation training at three yearly intervals thereafter in each of the jurisdictions that they exercise. The JSB advises on, and provides training on specific changes in law and procedure where directly affect the conduct and management of cases.
39. Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what recent guidance he has given to magistrates regarding sentencing policy for drug dealing with intent to supply. 
Jane Kennedy: None. Within the statutory limits laid down by Parliament, the nature and severity of penalties imposed by the court are matters of judicial discretion subject to any guidelines laid down by the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).
The Magistrates Association has recently published the Magistrates' Courts Sentencing Guidelines which has been sent to all magistrates. This contains guidance on sentencing in all types of case, including cases of supplying drugs.
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