§ Mr. McQuarrie
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about extending light dues liability to fishing vessels.
§ Mr. Moore
I propose to extend light dues liability to the larger fishing vessels which comprise about 40 per cent, of the United Kingdom's fishing fleet.
It has been urged for some time by the shipping industry that liability for light dues should be extended to other users of navigational aids who are at present exempted from charge. I have reviewed the exemption which has applied hitherto to fishing vessels following my decision that the United Kingdom Racal-Decca navigator transmitters should be financed from the general lighthouse fund. These new arrangements have led to substantial reductions in the rental charges for Racal-Decca receivers and a free market for the sale of all manufacturers' receivers. In view of the use which the larger fishing vessels make of the navigator, as an aid to fishing as well as an aid to navigation, I think it would be right to extend light dues liability to them.
I propose that liability should be determined by a vessel's length, which has to be recorded in its registration documents. I propose that light dues should be levied on all vessels of 10 m registered length and over at a basic annual charge of £200 plus an annual charge of £20 for each metre in excess of 10 m. This regime would apply to vessels of all nationalities, and I estimate that in a full year it would yield about £1 million additional net revenue to the general lighthouse fund. Under this proposal about 40 per cent, of United Kingdom-registered fishing vessels would become liable for the charge.
I am now consulting representatives of the fishing industry and associated bodies about these proposals.