§ Mr. Livsey
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to reverse the trend of rural shop closures. 
§ Angela Eagle
Under the Local Government and Rating Act 1997, as of 1 April 1998 the sole general store and the sole post office in a rural settlement of 3,000 people or fewer are entitled to 50 per cent. mandatory relief, subject to a rateable value limit of £5,000. Local authorities may top this relief up to 100 per cent. if they wish.
In addition, the Rural Development Commission operates a Village Shop Development Scheme which provides grants to help rural shopkeepers maintain and wherever possible, improve the performance of village shops in settlements of less than 3,000.