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Shipping: General Lighthouse Authorities

Volume 717: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much Trinity House has spent on developing the e-LORAN navigation system; and whether, following the decision of the government of the United States to cancel their development work on that system, Trinity House plans to cease work on it. [HL2108]

The Research and Radionavigation Directorate of the General Lighthouse Authorities of the United Kingdom and Ireland has spent around £0.75 million to date developing the eLORAN navigation system in Cumbria. The Department for Transport has provided 50 per cent of the funding in the form of a grant.

No decision has been made about the long-term future of the UK eLORAN service. The US decision to cease funding the older LORAN-C service should not affect the eLORAN service for northern Europe.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 22 February (HL1979), why Trinity House and the Commissioners for Irish Lights are not designated as public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 when the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses are so designated. [HL2110]

Neither Trinity House nor the Commissioners of Irish Lights are designated as public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, because they are neither listed in Schedule 1 to the Act nor designated under Section 5.

The list in Schedule 1 may be added to by order under Section 4(1), but to be added a body or office must satisfy two conditions:

that the body or office is established by virtue of Her Majesty’s prerogative or by enactment or by subordinate legislation, or by certain Government or Welsh Assembly Government authorities; and

in the case of a body, that it is wholly or partly constituted by appointment made by certain Government or Welsh Assembly Government authorities.

The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses were added to the list in Schedule 1 as they met both the criteria above. This amendment was made by the Freedom of Information (Additional Public Authorities) Order 2002 (SI 2002/2623) that came into force on November 2002. Trinity House and the Commissioners of Irish Lights meet the first condition but not the second, as no appointments to their boards are made by any government entity, nor by the Welsh Assembly Government authorities.

Under Section 5, any other body that is regarded as performing a public function can be designated a public authority for the purposes of the Act. However, the Commissioners of Irish Lights primarily operate in the territory of a separate sovereign nation (Ireland) and Trinity House has substantial charitable functions beyond its remit as a General Lighthouse Authority.

However, the department expects both Trinity House and the Commissioners of Irish Lights to comply with the spirit of the Act in responding to reasonable requests from the public for information relating to their functions as a General Lighthouse Authority under UK law.