Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 16 January 2002

A 01/02-13

Legislative Council

Agenda
Wednesday 16 January 2002 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Other Papers

1. No.50-Report of changes to the approved Estimates of Expenditure approved during the second quarter of 2001-02 (Public Finance Ordinance : Section 8)
(to be presented by Secretary for the Treasury)

2. No.51 -Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation Annual Report 2000-2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Education and Manpower)


II. Questions

1. Hon LAW Chi-kwong to ask: (Translation)

At present, persons who have been determined by the relevant authorities as "severely disabled" (including those who are bedridden due to illness) are eligible for Normal Disability Allowance; and those severely disabled persons who have been certified as being "in need of constant attendance from others in their daily lives" are entitled to Higher Disability Allowance. However, those who are chronically ill but not bedridden are not eligible for disability allowances, even if they have lost their earning capacity. According to the findings of a survey conducted by the Administration, among the 882 700 persons with chronic illness in the territory, about 12% are not able to work or attend school and require others to take care of their daily lives. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the justifications for including "being bedridden" as a requisite for the chronically ill to be qualified for disability allowances;

    (b)whether the granting of disability allowances to the chronically ill who have lost their earning capacity is in line with the objective of setting up the disability allowance scheme; and

    (c)whether it will consider granting disability allowances to the chronically ill who have been certified by the relevant authorities as having lost their earning capacity but are not being bedridden; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare



2. Hon James TIEN to ask: (Translation)

Many private club-houses may operate in residential buildings by virtue of Certificates of Compliance issued by the relevant authorities under the Clubs (Safety of Premises) Ordinance; some are further issued liquor licences and restaurant licences. The admission requirements of some club-houses are quite lax and members of the public may enjoy their services immediately after going through some simple admission procedures. As a result, these club-houses have become de facto public restaurants and cause nuisance to the daily life of the residents in the residential buildings in which they are located. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the reasons for allowing club-houses to operate in residential buildings, and issuing to them liquor licences as well as restaurant licences;

    (b)what other licences may be issued to these club-houses; whether the relevant authorities are less stringent in vetting and approving the applications for liquor licences and restaurant licences submitted by the club-houses possessing Certificates of Compliance; and

    (c)how various departments monitor whether the club-houses concerned are operating in accordance with the licence requirements?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

3. Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung to ask: (Translation)

Under the existing Secondary School Places Allocation System, written tests are not allowed in the allocation of Secondary 1 ("S1") discretionary places. However, it has been reported that the Subsidized Secondary Schools Council encourages its member schools to consider the applicants' scores in open examinations such as the Cambridge Young Learners' English Tests. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has assessed if such a practice of secondary schools violates the spirit of the no-written-test requirement and the objective of the education reform; if there is violation, whether it will take administrative measures to forbid this practice; and

    (b)how the Education Department monitors subsidized secondary schools to ensure that they will not set written tests for the allocation of S1 discretionary places?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

4. Hon MA Fung-kwok to ask: (Translation)

Regarding mobile phone network service operators' collection of service charges from customers, will the Government inform this Council whether the Office of the Telecommunications Authority:
    (a)has issued guidelines to the operators stipulating the basis for calculating the time-based charges, including whether operators are allowed to collect service charges from customers for call minutes spent on listening to voice mail instructions; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)has assessed if the current policies are conducive to the adoption of more diversified and reasonable fee charging methods by operators, and the feasibility of adopting the one-way or the caller-pays fee charging method in Hong Kong; if it has, of the details; and

    (c)will, by reference to the practice in other territories, prohibit the operators from collecting service charges on non-airtime; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting

5. Hon Fred LI to ask: (Translation)

In accordance with the 1989 Water Supply Agreement signed between the Hong Kong Government and the Guangdong Authority, even if the actual quantity of water supplied is smaller than the agreed quantity, the water charges payable by Hong Kong are still to be determined on the basis of the agreed quantity. It has been reported that last year a large amount of potable water was discharged into the sea due to overflowing of reservoirs, resulting in wastage of potable water and public funds. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the quantity of potable water discharged into the sea in the past three years due to overflowing of reservoirs, and its value as calculated by the unit price of water supplied;

    (b)of the electricity charges and other operational expenses for the conveyance of potable water from Guangdong, calculated by the quantity of water supplied after deducting the quantity discharged into the sea, and how these figures compare to the actual expenses concerned, in each of the past three years; and

    (c)whether it has striven to negotiate with the Guangdong Authority for reducing the price of water; if it has, of the result?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Works

*6. Hon Albert CHAN to ask: (Translation)

In order to boost the sale of flats, some real estate developers arrange free transport in various districts to carry the public to view model flats and the sales offices. While awaiting passengers, such vehicles often occupy lay-bys at roadsides in busy districts for a long time, thereby blocking traffic and posing possible danger to other road-users. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether real estate developers are required to submit details such as routing arrangements to the Transport Department ("TD") and obtain approval before the provision of the above-mentioned passenger transport service; if so, of the approving criteria adopted by TD; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)of the number of complaints it received in the past two years about traffic congestion caused by such vehicles waiting for passengers at roadsides for an extended period; how these complaints were handled and the respective outcomes; and

    (c)whether it has plans and measures to monitor this kind of passenger transport service; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

*7. Hon LAU Ping-cheung to ask: (Translation)

The Department of Ecology & Biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong conducted the Biodiversity Survey under the sponsorship of the Environment and Conservation Fund in 1997 and submitted a report to the Government in June 2000, recommending the extension of conservation areas in Hong Kong by 25 km2 of land. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has verified the findings of the report and followed up the relevant recommendations;

    (b)whether it will take on board the proposed extension of conservation areas by 25 km2 of land; if not, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)as the authorities concerned have advised that there are more than 10 privately-owned sites which are similar to or are of greater conservation value than Long Valley, of the sites in question, and how such sites compare to those set out in the report?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

*8. Hon Frederick FUNG to ask: (Translation)

It has been reported that the Hong Kong Housing Society ("HKHS") adopted a new governance structure at the end of year 2000. Under this new governance structure, members of the Executive Committee attend meetings once per month on average, and they are remunerated at about $10,000 per month. HKHS claims that the remuneration of its Executive Committee members is in line with that of their counterparts in organizations of similar size and business nature. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
    (a)how these members' duties and workload (including the number of meetings they are required to attend each month) after the adoption of the new governance structure compare to those before the adoption;

    (b)whether the remuneration for these members has changed after the adoption of the governance structure; if it has, the reasons for that and how the new remuneration level was set; and

    (c)the organizations mentioned by the HKHS as "organizations of similar size and business nature"?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*9. Hon Henry WU to ask: (Translation)

It has been reported that the Housing Department ("HD") refuses to let securities companies set up branches in shopping arcades of housing estates on grounds that securities trading is speculative in nature and such services are already available in bank branches. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the justifications for HD not allowing businesses which are speculative in nature to operate in commercial premises of housing estates;

    (b)of the criteria adopted by HD for determining whether a business is speculative in nature and, applying such criteria, list those businesses conducted by securities companies and banks which are speculative in nature; where some banking businesses are determined as speculative in nature, the reasons for HD allowing banks to provide such services in the commercial premises of housing estates;

    (c)whether it has assessed if HD has adopted double standards in allowing bank branches in its shopping arcades to provide securities trading services while refusing to let securities companies set up branches there to provide the same services; if it has, of the results; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)of the other types of businesses which HD will also not allow to be conducted in the commercial premises of housing estates, and the rationale of HD in doing so?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*10. Hon James TO to ask: (Translation)

At present, out of the 150 daily quota of One-way Exit Permits ("OEPs"), a specified sub-quota of 60 is allocated for persons of Chinese nationality born in the Mainland of Hong Kong permanent residents ("eligible children"), while another specified sub-quota of 30 is allocated for application by persons who have been living separately from their spouses in Hong Kong for a long period ("the sub-quota for long-separated spouses"). Moreover, persons who are issued OEPs by the Guangdong Authorities for reunion with their spouses in Hong Kong are allowed to bring with them a child under the age of 14 into Hong Kong for settlement. In connection with the number of OEPs issued on grounds of reunion with spouses, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the annual numbers of persons entering Hong Kong from the Mainland for reunion with spouses on OEPs between 1998 and 2001, together with the respective annual breakdowns of OEPs which were issued under the sub-quotas for long-separated spouses and otherwise, and by the Guangdong Authorities and other authorities;

    (b)the total number of children under the age of 14 brought into Hong Kong for settlement by persons entering Hong Kong for reunion with spouses since 1 January 1998; and among them, the number of eligible children; and

    (c)when the Guangdong Authorities will complete the processing of OEP applications submitted by persons who have been living separately from their spouses in Hong Kong since 31 December 1993 or before?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

*11. Hon LAU Chin-shek to ask: (Translation)

In his Policy Address 2001, the Chief Executive pledged to create over 30 000 job opportunities in the public sector. In reply to a question raised by this Council in this regard on 7 November 2001, the Secretary for Education and Manpower said that the "departments concerned are now studying ways to further expedite and to create, as far as possible, job opportunities in needed areas". As the unemployment rate has continued to rise recently, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the progress of each department in its study on expediting the creation of and increase in job opportunities; and

    (b)the specific proposals put forward by each department for increasing job opportunities?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

*12. Hon WONG Sing-chi to ask: (Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of the following respective breakdowns in respect of recipients of Normal Disability Allowance and Higher Disability Allowance:
    (a)the current number of recipients of such allowances for each type of disability, as well as their percentages in the respective populations of persons with the relevant disability; and

    (b)the number of persons granted such allowances because of "illness resulting in being bedridden", and its percentage in the population of persons with chronic illness; and the number of recipients for each of the three types of chronic illness that they most commonly suffer?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

*13. Hon Albert HO to ask: (Translation)

Regarding the supply and demand of motorcycle parking spaces, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of registered motorcycles and private cars, and their relative ratio;

    (b)of the respective numbers of parking spaces for motorcycles and private cars, and their relative ratio; the respective numbers of motorcycle parking spaces provided by the government, the Housing Authority, the Housing Society and the private sector as well as their average patronage, together with a breakdown by district;

    (c)whether it has assessed if there are adequate motorcycle parking spaces in various districts; and

    (d)whether it will propose to the Housing Authority and the Housing Society the conversion of some private car parking spaces in car parks with low patronage into motorcycle parking spaces, in the districts which suffer from a shortage of motorcycle parking spaces?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

*14. Hon Eric LI to ask: (Translation)

The Chief Executive announced in the 2001 Policy Address that the Government and the two railway corporations planned to invest $600 billion in infrastructural projects. Regarding the professional or consultancy services contracts for these projects, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the number and the total value of the projects which involve the outsourcing of professional or consultancy services; and

    (b)the measures the authorities concerned will take to ensure that local tertiary institutions and professionals will have the opportunities of being awarded the contracts, and to facilitate the development and retention in Hong Kong as far as possible and their transfer from foreign companies to local professionals of the specialized technologies used in such projects?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Works

*15. Hon CHAN Kwok-keung to ask: (Translation)

The management work of the Island East Sports Centre, including the provision of lifeguard service for the swimming pool there, has been contracted out to a private company since July 2001. With regard to the outsourcing of lifeguard service by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department ("LCSD"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows how the entry requirements of and recruitment procedures for lifeguards currently set by LCSD compare to those of the above-mentioned company;

    (b)of the number of lifeguards currently employed by LCSD, their average years of service as well as their respective average monthly salary and allowance; and whether it knows the relevant figures for lifeguards employed by contractors of the outsourced service; and

    (c)whether LCSD plans to contract out the lifeguard service of its public swimming pools and beaches progressively?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*16. Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong to ask: (Translation)

It was reported that the Fire Services Department ("FSD") recently purchased a survivor detector called DKL LifeGuard, but the performance of this model of survivor detectors was called into question in the test reports published by the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Justice of the United States respectively. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the models of survivor detectors currently used by FSD and the number of each model;

    (b)whether FSD had obtained overseas test reports and rating information on this model of survivor detectors before it purchased this product; if so, how such information has been obtained, and whether the test reports obtained include both of the reports mentioned above;

    (c)of the results of internal tests conducted on the DKL LifeGuard by FSD;

    (d)how FSD staff who have used the DKL LifeGuard evaluate its performance; and

    (e) whether FSD plans to purchase more survivor detectors of this model; if so, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

*17. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask: (Translation)

Regarding the full liberalization of the local fixed telecommunications network services ("FTNS") market, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the movement in the percentage of the telecommunications sector in the Gross Domestic Product over the past four years, and whether it has assessed and reviewed how such movement relates to the measures taken for liberalizing the FTNS market;

    (b)of the respective market shares of the four existing wireline-based FTNS operators, and whether it has analyzed the reasons for the significant differences in those shares and taken follow-up actions;

    (c)whether it has analyzed the benefits of the liberalization of the FTNS market to the overall economy; if it has, of the details; and

    (d)given that a research report on the telecommunications industry in the Asia-Pacific Region, published by Standard & Poor's in October last year, has pointed out that factors such as the persistent pressure from competition and the uncertainty in the scale of regulation would bring about severe strains on the telecommunications sector in the Asia-Pacific Region in the coming years, and that the terrorists attack on September 11 last year has aggravated the market's worries about the economic outlook, thereby causing financing problems to the telecommunications corporations in the region, whether it has assessed if January 1, 2003 is still the right time for the full liberalization of the FTNS market?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting

*18. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:

Will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the tender schedule that has been drawn up and the value of the contracts that will be awarded in the next 12 months by the Housing Authority for building public rental housing estates and Home Ownership Scheme flats;

    (b)the anticipated number of jobs that will be created by the award of these contracts; and

    (c)the number of housing units that will be built under these contracts?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*19. Hon TAM Yiu-chung to ask: (Translation)

Several serious traffic accidents have taken place on Tung Chung Road recently, and the north-south access of Lantau Island was paralyzed every time. Residents' groups consider that while residents of Lantau Island have no choice but to accept the Government's proposal to widen Tung Chung Road as an alternative to constructing the Lantau North-South Road Link, the life of the residents, local and foreign visitors cannot be protected expeditiously as the scheme will not be completed until 2006. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of traffic accidents on Tung Chung Road last year and their casualty toll; and how these figures compare to those of the preceding two years;

    (b)of the current respective numbers of valid Lantau Closed Road Permits issued in respect of the various types of vehicles;

    (c)whether there are plans to prohibit heavy vehicles and tankers from using Tung Chung Road; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (d)whether it will set up an inter-departmental Tung Chung Road Emergency Transport Co-ordination Centre to take up the coordination role in case of emergency, so as to strengthen the ability to cope with contingencies; if so, of the details, if not, the reasons for that; and

    (e) whether it will take measures to expedite the progress of Tung Chung Road improvement scheme, including streamlining the relevant procedures and carrying out the works by sections concurrently, etc.; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

*For written reply.

III. Motions
  1. Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Secretary for Home Affairs to move the following motion:


  2. RESOLVED that the Attachment of Income Order (Amendment) Rules 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 260 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 12 December 2001, be amended, in section 10(c), in the new rule 8(5), by repealing everything after "(b)," and before the dash and substituting "if subsequently a maintenance payer has a new income source, he shall, within 21 days after he is first entitled to receive any income from the new income source".

  3. Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Secretary for Home Affairs to move the following motion:


  4. RESOLVED that the Matrimonial Causes (Amendment) Rules 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 270 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 19 December 2001, be amended, in section 5(a)(i), (b)(i), (c)(i), (d)(i), (e)(i), (f)(i) and (g), by repealing "撇開上述修改或增補(如有的話)不論" where it twice appears and substituting "經上述修改或增補(如有的話)後".
IV. Members' Motions

Rent concession for domestic and commercial tenants of public rental housing estates
Hon Albert HO:
(Translation)

That, whereas Hong Kong's deteriorating economy has posed much hardship on people's livelihood, the Housing Authority is currently reviewing a number of policies that affect people's livelihood and such policy changes will have an impact on the existing rent levels of public rental housing (PRH), this Council urges the Housing Authority and the Housing Society to adopt the following measures to lessen the burden of housing expenses on the public and alleviate the operational difficulties of commercial tenants:
    (a)introducing a mechanism whereby, subject to their passing a vetting process, PRH tenants who are paying excessive rents are only required to pay rents equivalent to 13% of their total household income, for a period of one year;

    (b)granting a 50% rent reduction for households comprising elderly persons only;

    (c)reducing the rents of commercial tenants by 30% for a period of six months; and

    (d)conducting full consultation with the Legislative Council and the public in reviewing public housing policies.


    Amendments to Hon Albert HO's motion

    (i)Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung: (Translation)

    To delete "(a) introducing a mechanism whereby, subject to their passing a vetting process, PRH tenants who are paying excessive rents are only required to pay rents equivalent to 13% of their total household income, for a period of one year;"; to delete "(b)" and substitute with "(a)"; to delete "(c)" and substitute with "(b)"; to add "residential and" after "reducing the rents of"; to delete "six months; and" after "for a period of" and substitute with "one year, and thereafter reviewing the rents in the light of the economic situation at that time; (c) in the long run and as a matter of principle, lowering the rents so as to reduce the median rent-to-income ratio to below 10% in order to comply with the stipulations in the law; and".

    (ii)Hon CHAN Kam-lam: (Translation)

    To add "and having financial difficulties" after "households comprising elderly persons only"; to add "and completing the reassessment of shop rentals expeditiously after receiving the applications of commercial tenants" after "a period of six months".
Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Housing

Clerk to the Legislative Council