HL Deb 04 March 1993 vol 543 cc41-2WA
Lord Elton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to increase light dues.

The Minister of State, Department of Transport (The Earl of Caithness)

We remain committed to the principle of funding the cost of navigational aids from light dues. We are however pursuing a number of initiatives in this regard. We have made a joint approach with the Irish Government to the European Commission proposing that the user should pay for navigational aids throughout the Community's waters. We have opened negotiations with the Irish Government with a view to increasing the level of contributions to the General Lighthouse Fund from sources within the Republic. We are not yet in a position to make an announcement on the difficult issue of light dues for pleasure craft. But work continues to identify an equitable and cost effective charging system.

On 15th February 1990 we announced our intention of moving from a net to a gross tonnage basis for the assessment of light dues in 1994. The General Lighthouse Authorities and the payers of light dues are consulting together as to what the effects would be on differing types and sizes of vessels. We expect to make a further announcement later in the year.

The tariff for light dues is usually revised annually so that the finances of the General Lighthouse Fund are maintained at a satisfactory level. Despite a substantial increase in the tariff last year, light dues revenue for 1992–93 was forecast to be 26 per cent. lower in real terms than in 1987. For the forthcoming year from 1st April we are announcing an average increase in the tariff of about 3½ per cent.

We are therefore laying regulations to increase the light dues voyage tariff by 1.5p to 43p per tonne with effect from 1st April; we are also increasing the tariff for periodical payments, including those for fishing vessels, from £205 a year plus £21 per metre (for 10 metres and over) to £212 and £22 respectively, with consequential increases in related rates.