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The main functions of the Legislative Council are to enact, amend or repeal laws; examine and approve budgets, taxation and public expenditure; and raise questions on the work of the government. The Legislative Council is also given the power to endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court, as well as the power to impeach the Chief Executive.

Composition of the Legislative Council

The Legislative Council has 70 Members for the fifth term, with 35 Members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections, and 35 Members by functional constituencies.

The election for the fifth term of the Legislative Council was held on 9 September 2012. According to the Basic Law and the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542), the term of office of the fifth term of the Legislative Council is four years. The term started from 1 October 2012.

The President of the Legislative Council is elected by and from among Members of the Legislative Council.

Legislative Council Elections

For information on Legislative Council elections, please visit the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Electoral Affairs Commission homepage.

Functions and Powers of the Legislative Council

As provided for in Article 73 of the Basic Law, the Legislative Council exercises the following powers and functions:

  1. To enact, amend or repeal laws in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law and legal procedures;
  2. To examine and approve budgets introduced by the Government;
  3. To approve taxation and public expenditure;
  4. To receive and debate the policy addresses of the Chief Executive;
  5. To raise questions on the work of the Government;
  6. To debate any issue concerning public interests;
  7. To endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court;
  8. To receive and handle complaints from Hong Kong residents;
  9. If a motion initiated jointly by one-fourth of all the Members of the Legislative Council charges the Chief Executive with serious breach of law or dereliction of duty and if he or she refuses to resign, the Council may, after passing a motion for investigation, give a mandate to the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal to form and chair an independent investigation committee. The committee shall be responsible for carrying out the investigation and reporting its findings to the Council. If the committee considers the evidence sufficient to substantiate such charges, the Council may pass a motion of impeachment by a two-thirds majority of all its Members and report it to the Central People's Government for decision; and
  10. To summon, as required when exercising the above-mentioned powers and functions, persons concerned to testify or give evidence.
Meetings of the Legislative Council

The Council normally meets every Wednesday in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Complex to conduct its business while in session. Its business includes: tabling of subsidiary legislation and other papers; reports and addresses; statements; questions; bills; and motion debates. From time to time, the Chief Executive attends a special Council meeting to brief Members on policy issues and to answer questions from Members. All Council meetings are open to the public. The proceedings of the meetings are recorded verbatim in the Official Record of Proceedings of the Legislative Council (Hansard).

Committee System

Through a committee system, Members of the Legislative Council perform the important functions of scrutinizing bills, controlling public expenditure and monitoring Government's performance. There are three standing committees under the Council, namely Finance Committee, Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Members' Interests. Bills Committees are formed by the House Committee, as the need arises, to study legislative proposals. Besides, there are also 18 Panels under the Council which receive regular briefings from the Government and examine the effectiveness of Government policies and measures.

Redress System

The Legislative Council Redress System is a system operated by the Legislative Council to receive and handle complaints from members of the public who are aggrieved by Government actions or policies. It also deals with public representations on Government policies and legislation as well as other matters of public concern.

In groups of seven, Members take turns to be on duty each week to oversee the system and to give guidance to staff of the Public Complaints Office of the Legislative Council Secretariat in processing cases. In addition, Members take turns to be on "ward duty" during their duty week to meet complainants with appointments (including individual clients and deputations) who wish to discuss their complaints with Members in person.