Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (P 20A)


  Thank you for the letter of 15 March. John Good and I were very pleased to be offered the opportunity of appearing before the Sub-committee and to provide input to its work.

  With regard to your offer to provide more information on issues raised during our submission, we would like to take the opportunity of expanding on our verbal evidence in respect of the burden imposed on UK trade by the application of light dues.

  As we indicate, one of our member companies,—who is the UK representative of one of the five largest container operators in the world—has calculated that the light dues paid by his vessels calling at Felixstowe equate to rather more than £10,00 per TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) of import or export cargo. In the year 2000, this particular company imported or exported more than 208,000 TEU and paid in excess of £2,176,000 in light dues. These figures do not take into account transhipment cargo as this is not, of course, destined for the UK, rather it is temporarily held in the port awaiting onward carriage to an overseas destination. As this company is a major operator, with a fleet of modern vessels, we would expect that the other major container lines would broadly concur with these figures.

  Some members of the Sub-committee asked if it is possible to equate this figure to a percentage of the value of the cargo. Whilst this may, within certain limits be possible with bulk cargo, on the grounds that an approximate value of the cargo is known, it is not possible to do so for containerised cargo.

  The value of the container is, to all intents and purposes, the value of the cargo inside and it will be appreciated that this can vary significantly. For example a container of finished electrical goods will have a much higher value than one full of, for instance, pellets for use in the manufacture of plastic. It will therefore be appreciated that the percentage of the value of the cargo that the light dues charge represents will also vary significantly.

  With respect to the Sub-committee, however, the percentage of costs attributable to light dues is not the point. The very fact that every container of cargo being moved to or from the UK by sea is penalised by approximately £10.00—whilst those shipped to and from many near-Continent ports do not—should be enough to indicate that there is a significant financial penalty being levied upon UK trade through the charging of light dues. As Mr Good said in his evidence, the Institute is not against the concept of light dues per se, but it does believe that their imposition should be considered in the light of the arrangements applicable at overseas ports, and in particular those which are in competition with the major UK ports.

  We trust this information is of interest to the Sub-committee.

Jonathan C Williams FICS
For and on behalf of
Mr R J Davies FICS
Chairman, ICS Federation Council

23 March 2001

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