HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 c428W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which types of vessel are obliged to pay light dues and which are not in(a) the United Kingdom, (b) France, (c) Spain, (d) Greece and (e) Germany. [30576]

Mr. Norris

Some other European countries charge light dues, but details could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. In the UK, commercial vessels and pleasure craft over 20 tons and tugs and fishing vessels over 10m in length pay light dues. Full details of all liabilities and exemptions are contained in the light dues regulations.

Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what is his policy in respect of light dues on fishing vessels; and what changes he is evaluating; [30575]

(2) if he will make a statement on the rationale for the light dues system; [30577]

(3) for what reason fishing vessels are obliged to pay light dues. [30578]

Mr. Norris

The Government support the user pays principle and have concluded that the costs of navigation aids to shipping are a proper charge on those who use the services. It would not be acceptable to transfer the costs to the general taxpayer. Fishing vessels make use of all types of navigation aids, so they should contribute to the operating costs. Light dues are reviewed on a regular basis, but we are not currently considering any changes to the charges levied on fishing vessels.