HC Deb 10 August 1885 vol 300 cc1565-6

asked the Secretary to the Board of Trade, If the dues levied on shipping on account of the Basses Lights amount in round figures to £17,000 per annum, while the cost of maintenance, including interest and repayment of loans, is little more than £10,000; and, whether there is a considerable balance in hand on this account derived from this surplus revenue; and, if so, under these circumstances, the time has arrived to reduce considerably the dues payable by shipping for the maintenance of these lights?


The figures stated in the Question are practically accurate for the year 1882–3; but in the 1883–4 the receipts had increased to upwards of £20,000, and the expenditure amounted to £26,000, nearly £14,000 having been provided from surplus dues towards the cost of the construction of a new lighthouse on Mini-coy Island, and the balance being thus reduced to less than £6,000. Since that date the balance has increased; but, having regard to the hazardous nature of the service of attending and relieving the lighthouses—one tender having been lost—the Board of Trade think it desirable that a small reserve fund to meet con- tingencies should be maintained. The Board of Trade are under pledges to the Indian Government to reconsider the present rates at the earliest possible moment; but it must be borne in mind that, as the dues are held as security by the Public Works Loan Commissioners for advances remaining unpaid to the extent of nearly £100,000, the Board will not be in a position to propose a reduction in the tolls until they have gained more experience as to the revenue to be derived from the new dues for Minicoy Lighthouse and the cost of its maintenance.