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World Bank

The Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn): I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of a new DFID report, "The UK and the World Bank 2004".

This report describes the UK's work with the World Bank over the bank's financial year 2004 (known as FY04: July 2003–June 2004). In line with my commitment to greater transparency on our relations with the bank, it sets out the broad positions the UK
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took in a number of discussions at the bank—on the bank's support to poor countries' development, its role in responding to debates on global issues such as debt and trade, and its institutional effectiveness. The report also records the UK's position on resolutions adopted by the Board of Governors. It will be an annual publication; the next report will cover the period July 2004–June 2005.

The UK believes that the World Bank is an effective development organisation, but its performance can still be improved. In FY04, the UK pressed the bank to improve performance in a number of areas, for example: ensuring that country assistance strategies focus on poverty reduction; using more poverty and social impact analysis (PSIA), and making more bank information available to the public. Since the end of FY04, we have also successfully pressed the bank to review its use of conditionality. We will report on this initiative in our next report on the UK and the World Bank.


R v. Rayment and Others

The Solicitor-General (Ms Harriet Harman): My right hon. Friend the Attorney-General has made the following ministerial statement:

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Light Dues

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. David Jamieson): I am pleased to announce that light dues rates and the tonnage threshold will remain the same for 2005–06. The Government remain committed to a cost recovery system yet rates have been reduced significantly in the last 12 years. They were last reduced in 2004.

Despite the General Lighthouse Authorities having undertaken a programme of major capital investment—the redevelopment of the Trinity House Lighthouse Service depot at Harwich and the replacement of GLA ships, costs to the industry have remained static. These projects will be funded out of the General Lighthouse Fund. We shall continue to work closely with the General Lighthouse Authorities to maximise efficiency where we can and to ensure that the benefits that have been achieved are returned to light dues payers.

The Study into the Economic Effects of Light Dues carried out by consultants, MDS Transmodal and DTZ Pieda, was commissioned in 2003. The study examined the direct economic impact of light dues charges on shipping lines, ports and owners of fishing vessels and pleasure craft and on the wider UK economy and the
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economic implications of alternative charging options. The study concluded that the requirement to pay light dues did not distort trading by commercial shipping to and from the UK. The charge had negligible effects on the economy. Removal of most of the existing exemptions would also have little impact on overall economic activity, as would an annual charge of around £100 on pleasure craft. This level of charge being an assumption, and chosen because it is the equivalent approximately to the annual cost of other Government levies, such as an annual television licence and the road fund licence for a small car.

I have considered the case for restructuring the current light dues system and in particular, extending the scope of the charge to all pleasure craft. A number of charging approaches have been discussed—for example registration of vessels, a charge based on moorings, or a charge based on vessel movements. All of these systems would be expensive and time consuming to establish, relative to the levels of charge to be levied. I have decided, therefore, that a cost effective, enforceable, collection mechanism for pleasure craft cannot be introduced at the present time.

I do not propose to change the structure of the current charging system for the foreseeable future.

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