HC Deb 01 September 1887 vol 320 cc731-2
MR. T. SUTHERLAND (Greenock)

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he is aware that the Light Dues now charged on British shipping by the Egyptian Government are at least double the amount which they should be, according to the Convention entered into by Her Majesty's Representative with the Egyptian Government, and published in The London Gazette in 1870, Clause 12 of such Convention being to the following effect:— That the present tariff shall be subject to be increased or lowered according to the state of the budget of lighthouses to be drawn up by the Government every year; whether he can state the precise extent to which these Dues ought to be lowered in the present position of the lighthouse budget, and the extent to which they have been overcharged for some years past; and, what steps, if any, Her Majesty's Government propose to adopt for the protection of the shipping interest in this matter?


To the first Question my answer must be similar to that given to my hon. Friend by the Secretary to the Board of Trade in February. There can be no doubt that the revenue derived from the Light Dues by the Egyptian Government considerably exceeds the expenditure. The estimated surplus for 1887 is £E.53,750. There is no Convention with the Egyptian Government on this matter; that Government in a "Notice to Maritime Trade "in 1870, Article XII., made the declaration stated in the Question; but that leaves the deduction within their own discretion. Her Majesty's Government are pressing the Egyptian Government to construct a new lighthouse on Shadwan Island in the Gulf of Suez. They do not feel justified in also pressing for an immediate reduction of the dues in view of the present embarrassed state of the Egyptian finances; but the question is not lost sight of, and the Egyptian Government will be reminded of their engagement whenever there appears to be an opportunity of modifying the charges.