On 26 July 2010, the government announced its intention to take determined action in support of the UK shipping industry by addressing the increasing cost of the marine aids to navigation service and providing long-term stability for light dues payers so they could plan budgets effectively [Official Report, Columns 75-76WS].
Following the penny reduction in the light dues rate to 40p per net registered tonne in April 2014, I am pleased to announce that the rate will be cut by a further penny, to 39p, on 1 April 2015.
Since 2010, considerable progress has been made on 3 fronts. First, the 3 General Lighthouse Authorities for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland have exceeded their RPI-X efficiency targets, through working assets harder, adopting new technologies, and procuring services together to reduce net costs.
Second, their pension liabilities have been addressed with the transfer of the General Lighthouse Authorities’ pension schemes to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme on 1 April 2014 [Official Report, 6 March 2014, Columns 64-65WS]. Third, as I announced on 16 October 2014, the work of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in the Republic of Ireland will be met fully from Irish sources as from 1 April 2015 [Official Report, Columns 48-49WS]. Both of these measures further reduce costs and remove sources of volatility from the General Lighthouse Fund.
The formation in 2010 of a Joint Strategic Board to co-ordinate and direct work ‘to achieve maximum efficiencies and improvements in the delivery of aids to navigation’ has proved invaluable to these successes and I have asked the Board to identify the scope for further gains that can be secured over the next 5 years.
In partnership with the General Lighthouse Authorities and the shipping industry, the government has successfully resolved the problems that faced the General Lighthouse Fund in 2010. This has opened the way to sustainable reductions in UK light dues. This further reduction, to support the shipping industry, means that there has been a 19% real terms reduction in light dues since 2010.