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11. Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues on the future of post office services in Scotland. 
Mr. Foulkes: I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues on a wide range of matters. In addition, I have recently had meetings with the General Secretary of the Communication Workers' Union, executives from Consignia and the Chief Executive of PostComm, the industry regulator, to discuss Post Office services in Scotland.
12. Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she has had with ministerial colleagues and others on the impact of health spending on strategies for alleviating poverty. 
Mr. Foulkes: My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with UK Ministers and Scottish Ministers on a wide range of issues. Expenditure on the NHS in Scotland, however, is a devolved matter.
17. Mr. David Marshall: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment she has made about the impact of the Budget upon child poverty in Scotland. 
Mr. Foulkes: The Budget showed our continued determination to tackle child poverty. Around 450,000 families in Scotland will benefit from the introduction of the new working tax credit and the new child tax credit in 2003. The children's allowance in income support and job seeker's allowance will increase by £3.50 a week from October 2002, benefiting around 113,000 workless families in Scotland. We have also announced improvements to the new deal for lone parents, which has already benefited almost 15,000 people in Scotland.
The Department for Work and Pensions has also recently issued a consultation paper on "Measuring Child Poverty", to seek views on the best way of monitoring long-term progress.
13. Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action is being taken against employers in Scotland who are failing to pay the national minimum wage. 
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Mrs. Liddell: The Inland Revenue has two specialist teams, one based in Aberdeen, the other in East Kilbride, who are responsible for enforcing the national minimum wage in Scotland. In the period April 2001March 2002 over 500 investigations have been conducted, recovering £322,068 in wage arrears for Scottish workers. The Government have also run national publicity campaigns to raise awareness and the Inland Revenue regularly hold information seminars.
14. Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions she has had with the Ministry of Defence about jobs in Scotland which are (a) directly and (b) indirectly related to the defence industry. 
Mrs. Liddell: I have had a number of recent discussions with my right. hon. Friend the Secretary of State on defence-related matters. Defence expenditure on equipment is estimated to support 6,000 jobs in Scottish businesses directly and a further 10,800 jobs indirectly.
15. Miss Begg: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action she is taking to promote the work of the Disability Rights Commission in Scotland. 
Mr. Foulkes: I took part in a number of events last year publicising the role of the Disability Rights Commission in Scotland, including a seminar for Scottish MPs. In February, I held a reception in Edinburgh celebrating the commission's work which my hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People co-hosted.
16. Rosemary McKenna: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make an assessment of the impact of the Budget on SMEs in Scotland. 
Mrs. Liddell: My right hon. Friend's Budget statement announced a package of reforms to the business tax system which will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises and provide longer-term economic stability and a competitive business environment. The simplification of the VAT regime will be of benefit to 107,000 small businesses in Scotland. The small firms rate of corporation tax will be reduced from 20 per cent. to 19 per cent., benefiting some 33,000 small firms in Scotland and some will now pay no tax at all on the first £10,000 of their profits. Small businesses in Scotland with turnover up to £150,000 will also benefit from the removal of automatic VAT penalties.
20. David Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps she is taking to ensure Scotland's interests are represented in the debate on the future of Europe. 
Mrs. Liddell: The Government wish to encourage a wide ranging public debate on the Future of Europe in advance of the Inter-Governmental Conference in 2004. I will continue to contribute to that debate. For example, on 15 April I spoke at a Spanish Government seminar in Segovia on the Future of Europe.
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I am also a member of the Cabinet Committee on European Policy and the Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe), as well as the Ministerial Committee on European Co-ordination (MINECOR). The Scottish Executive participates directly in the latter two committees. The Government are committed to involving and consulting the devolved administrations in line with the terms of the Concordat on the Coordination of EU Policy Issues.
21. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she last met ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health and Health Ministers from the devolved Administration to discuss NHS provision in border areas. 
22. Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she last met ministerial colleagues in the Department of Health and Health Ministers from the Scottish Executive to discuss NHS provision in border areas. 
Mr. Foulkes: My right hon. Friend and I have regular meetings with UK Ministers and Scottish Ministers on a wide range of issues. The most recent meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee on Health took place on 22 October: my hon. Friend the Advocate General for Scotland represented the Scotland Office. The NHS in Scotland is a devolved matter.
23. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she will next visit Galloway and Upper Nithsdale to discuss the rural economy with representatives from the farming industry. 
Mrs. Liddell: I visited Dumfries on two occasions last year to discuss the local rural economy. I have at present no plans to visit Galloway and Upper Nithsdale.
24. Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions she has had with rural businesses in Scotland regarding the aggregate tax. 
Mr. Foulkes: I met with the British Aggregates Association on 21 January to discuss issues relating to the aggregates tax and rural business in Scotland.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what steps she is taking to represent Scottish interests to the Treasury in setting net borrowing attributable to Scotland; 
(3) what steps she has taken to represent Scottish interests to the Treasury in agreeing levels of services and their associated expenditures for Scottish residents; 
(4) what steps she is taking to in represent Scottish interests to the Treasury in agreeing levels of tax on Scottish residents and enterprises; 
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(5) what steps she is taking to represent Scottish interests to the Treasury on the Comprehensive Spending Review. 
Mrs. Liddell: I have regular discussions with Treasury Ministers on a wide range of issues affecting Scotland.
Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions she has had about support for the textile industry in Scotland since 11 September. 
Mrs. Liddell: I work closely with colleagues in the Department for Trade and Industry to ensure that the national strategy for the UK textile and clothing industry and DTI's support for British designers is implemented in Scotland. I also work closely with Scottish Executive Ministers in the delivery of their three-year strategy for Scottish textiles.
I am delighted that Johnstons of Elgin have recently won a Queen's Award for Enterprise. This demonstrates what can be achieved in overseas markets with innovative and well-designed products. My aim is that all of our textile industry can achieve that kind of success.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions she has had with the Scottish Executive about the setting up of a public inquiry into the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease. 
Mrs. Liddell: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Grainger) on 14 March 2002, Official Report, column 1207W.
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