§ 21. Mr. Swinney
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the impact of the increase in road fuel duty on the Scottish economy. 
§ Mr. Macdonald
Road fuel duty is a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The changes are part of a package of measures outlined in the Chancellor's recent Budget designed to create a climate of sustainable economic growth and long-term investment in business, both in Scotland and in the UK as a whole.
We are conscious that road fuel prices can be higher in remote rural areas. I have brought that difference in price to the attention of the Office of Fair Trading, who are currently investigating the matter. Last year the Chancellor provided £13.5 million over three years to provide for a Rural Transport Fund to extend the range of public transport services in rural communities. The fund will now be worth more than £14 million in the three years from 1998–99, to support better public transport in rural areas of Scotland and to help rural petrol stations meet the costs of tank replacement. The Chancellor also announced a reduction by £55 to £100 in Vehicle Excise Duty for smaller cars.