Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 6 March 2002

A 01/02-19

Legislative Council

Agenda
Wednesday 6 March 2002 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Matrimonial Causes (Amendment) Rules 200226/2002
2.Tax Reserve Certificates (Rate of Interest) (No. 3) Notice 2002 27/2002


Other Papers

1. No.64-Estimates for the year ending 31 March 2003
Volume IA - General Revenue Account
Volume IB - General Revenue Account
(to be presented by Financial Secretary)

2. No.65-Estimates for the year ending 31 March 2003
Volume II - Fund Accounts
(to be presented by Financial Secretary)


II. Questions for Written Replies

1. Hon Miriam LAU to ask: (Translation)

It is learnt that the Transport Department ("TD") is planning to prohibit the installation of hazardous bull bars at the front of vehicles. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of traffic accidents involving vehicles installed with such bull bars in the past three years, together with the casualties involved;

    (b)of the types and number of vehicles to be affected by the plan to have their bull bars removed;

    (c)of the hazards posed to drivers and other road users by vehicles installed with such bull bars; and

    (d)whether there are bull bars available on the market that can safeguard the safety of both drivers and road users; if so, of the prescribed standards of their design and installation; whether the TD will approve the installation of this type of bull bars on vehicles?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

2. Hon HUI Cheung-ching to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the employment of staff on non-civil service contract terms, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of staff employed on non-civil service contract terms and the gross amounts of their remuneration package, together with the number of staff whose contracts were renewed, in each of the past three years;

    (b)whether the department concerned will conduct an open recruitment exercise to fill a post which still has an operational need upon the expiry of the incumbent employee's contract;

    (c)of the mechanism in place to ensure that the employee is the most suitable person for the job when the department decides to renew the contract; and

    (d)whether, in deciding to retain a non-civil service contract post or recruit the post-holder afresh, the department will re-set the recruit's remuneration package at the prevalent market level; if so, of the criteria for setting it?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

3. Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding associate degree programmes, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the numbers and percentages of graduates of associate degree programmes admitted to local or overseas universities since the introduction of such programmes in Hong Kong and, among them, the extent to which their qualifications were recognized by the institutions or pegged with overseas institutions so that they were exempted from taking certain courses or their duration of study was shortened;

    (b)the countries or regions which recognize the associate degree programmes offered by the institutions in Hong Kong; and

    (c)the existing ordinances which regulate the prospectuses and advertisements relating to associate degree programmes, and whether these ordinances impose different requirements on the Federation for Continuing Education in Tertiary Institutions and private educational institutions in respect of the prospectuses and advertisements relating to their associate degree programmes; if so, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

4. Hon Frederick FUNG to ask:
(Translation)

In respect of full-time associate degree and higher diploma programmes offered by post-secondary institutions, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the tuition and number of places for full-time self-financing associate degree and higher diploma programmes offered by the post-secondary institutions in the last academic year broken down by programme types, and the unit cost for each type of programmes; and

    (b)whether it regularly assesses the effectiveness of the non-means-tested-loan scheme and the other financial assistance schemes for local post secondary students; if it has, of the conclusions of the latest assessment?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

5. Hon Albert HO to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the cases in which Notices-To-Quit were issued by the Housing Department ("HD") to recover the flats of public rental housing ("PRH") from residents who were in breach of tenancy agreements, will the Government inform this Council of the following regarding each of the past three years:
    (a)the number of Notices-To-Quit issued by HD and the reasons given therein; among these cases, the numbers of those in which tenancies were regranted and those in which the flats were eventually recovered;

    (b)the respective numbers of overruled and sustained cases, and a breakdown of these cases according to the respective reasons given by the relevant authority; and

    (c)the number of PRH households whose late appeals were not entertained and had to move out of their flats; and whether consideration will be given to amending the relevant provisions in the Housing Ordinance (Cap. 283) to extend the time limit for lodging appeals and to handle late appeals on a discretionary basis; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

6. Hon CHAN Yuen-han to ask:
(Translation)

The Architectural Services Department ("ArchsD") plans to contract out its activities progressively with a view to outsourcing 90% of its new design work and 80% or even all its maintenance jobs within seven years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of staff employed on non-civil service contract terms at present, with a breakdown by the expiry date of their contracts; and the estimated number of staff still being employed on such terms when the above outsourcing target is achieved;

    (b)of the respective estimated numbers of staff, on a yearly basis, still needed and being made redundant when the above outsourcing target is achieved, with a breakdown by grades; if such estimation is not available now, the reasons for that and when it can make such estimation and submit the relevant figures to this Council;

    (c)of the estimated number of staff required, on a yearly basis, for monitoring the contracting out works from now on until two years after the above outsourcing target has been met, with a breakdown by grades; if such estimation is not available now, the reasons for that and when it can make such estimation and submit the relevant figures to this Council; and

    (d)whether ArchsD will offer the Voluntary Departure Scheme to its staff?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Works

7. Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that the Housing Department has implemented a policy which requires tender documents of all outsourcing property management contracts of the Department to specify that the security guards engaged should not work over eight hours in any 24-hour period. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the number of executed contracts containing such a provision;

    (b)the comparison, in terms of salary and benefits, between security guards engaged under the new provision and the previous arrangement; and

    (c)the measures in place to ensure that the security guards' salaries will not be adjusted downwards correspondingly with a reduction in their working hours upon the full-scale implementation of the new provision?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

8. Hon Cyd HO to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that in the wake of recent family tragedies, the Secretary for Security indicated after the meeting of the Fight Crime Committee on 26 January 2002 that the Health and Welfare Bureau would set up a working group to lead a number of government departments, social service agencies and non-governmental organizations to formulate a multi-pronged policy, with a view to helping families in distress to resolve their problems. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the composition, terms of reference, financial resources, mode of operation and future work plan of the working group, as well as when it is expected to formally operate;

    (b)how the working group will work in collaboration with the Working Group on Combating Violence and the Committee on Child Abuse under the Social Welfare Department to achieve synergy; of the avenues available to ensure that the working group can take on board and put into effect the views of other concerned groups;

    (c)whether the working group will conduct a policy research to identify causes of family tragedies and work out effective remedies; if so, of the details and specific timetable of such a research; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)whether it has considered expanding the terms of reference of the Working Group on Combating Violence and the Committee on Child Abuse with a view to replacing the above working group, so as to immediately commence the research on preventing family tragedies, formulate specific measures in this regard as well as avoid fragmentation of responsibilities and duplication of resources?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

It is reported that when meeting the civil service unions early last month, the Financial Secretary ("FS") pointed out that the current public expenditure took up an excessively high proportion of the Gross Domestic Product, and civil servants would face a pay cut. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of FS's purpose in mentioning to the civil service unions that civil servants would face a pay cut;

    (b)whether it will implement its decision on the pay cut in the face of objections from all or most of the civil service unions; and

    (c)of the time to announce the decision on the pay cut and its rate?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

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

It is learnt that this year's waiting time for Labour Tribunal cases, as measured from the date of appointment to the date of filing and from the date of filing to the date of hearing, is projected to increase by about 30% to 82% when compared with that in the previous two years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the average number of cases dealt with by each day court and night court of the Tribunal in the past two years;

    (b)whether it has estimated the number of cases to be dealt with by the Tribunal this year; if so, of the growth in such number as compared to those in each of the past two years; and

    (c)whether it has planned to introduce measures, including the provision of more night courts, to shorten the waiting time for the Tribunal cases; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Chief Secretary for Administration

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

At the job centres of the Labour Department ("LD"), job seekers can register their applications for vacancies in the Mainland. It is learnt that LD is designing a new website to provide more information to Hong Kong residents who intend to look for jobs in the Mainland. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of vacancies in the Mainland registered with LD over the past five years, and the trades that offered most of these posts;

    (b)when the new website will be launched; and

    (c)of the reason for not considering expanding the contents of LD's existing website in order to save resources?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

12. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

The MTR Corporation Limited("MTRC") plans to spend 30 million to 40 million dollars to renovate the Central and the Kowloon Bay stations and extend the shop areas in these two stations, but it has no plans to install public toilet facilities for the convenience of the public in the stations. As some of the MTR journeys are rather long, the public has a genuine need for such toilet facilities, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)MTRC's specific measures and timetable to fully address the problem regarding the lack of public toilet facilities in existing MTRC stations; and

    (b)if MTRC will reserve areas for installing public toilet facilities when building new stations or extending existing stations; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

13. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the State General Administration of the People's Republic of China for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine ("AQSIQ") has recently announced that 17 types of foodstuffs in the Mainland were found to contain preservative, additive and bacteria contents exceeding the prescribed national safety standards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows the types and brands of those foodstuffs;

    (b)whether it has approached the AQSIQ for information concerning the inspection of those foodstuffs;

    (c)whether those foodstuffs are sold in Hong Kong; if so, of the actions it has taken to ensure public health; and

    (d)of the upper limits prescribed by the Mainland and Hong Kong for the use of three common food preservatives and additives (i.e. benzoic acid, sorbic acid and saccharin sodium), and if the standards prescribed by the Mainland are more stringent, whether it will amend the regulations concerned to keep in line with those standards; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

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

It is reported that the Hospital Authority ("HA") has projected a deficit of 220 million dollars in the current financial year, which would have to be made up by HA fiscal reserves. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the increase in annual funding received by each hospital under HA over the past three years, with particular reference to the funding received for the increase in new beds, facilities and services; and the deficit in expenditure in each of the past three years and the amount made up by HA fiscal reserves for such deficits;

    (b)the estimated expenditure of HA and the five HA hospitals with the most serious deficits by the end of the current financial year; and among such expenditure, the items with substantial discrepancies between the actual expenditure and the approved estimates and the items not listed in the approved estimates, and the amount involved in such items;

    (c)given that at present public expenditure by Government departments involving 10 million dollars or more are subject to the approval of the Legislative Council for amendment to the approved estimates of expenditure or new proposals, the monitoring mechanism adopted by HA and its hospitals to amend the approved estimates of expenditure or propose new items of expenditure, and the monitoring details;

    (d)whether the Chief Executive of HA is empowered to allocate funding to respective hospitals to made up the deficit; if so, of the ceiling for such allocation;

    (e)the terms of reference of the Finance Committee and the Hospital Governing Committee under HA in monitoring the fiscal management of HA and its hospitals; and

    (f)which HA meetings are open to the public, and whether HA will consider opening to the public all meetings of HA and its committees at which HA's fiscal management and financial allocations are discussed?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

15. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


It is noted that on the day before a major conference or exhibition is held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre ("HKCEC"), there are always large numbers of lorries loading and unloading in its vicinity, causing serious traffic congestion. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the measures in place to ease the aforesaid traffic congestion; and

    (b)whether it will consider restricting the loading and unloading of lorries in the vicinity of the HKCEC to late night or off-peak hours on the day before a conference or exhibition is held?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

16. Hon SIN Chung-kai to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that a United States company offers an online payment agency service, in which a client registered with it first transfers money from his/her bank account or in the form of credit card debits to his/her account held with the company which then transfers the payment through e-mail according to the clients' instruction to a designated payee; the payee can then receive the payment in his/her account via e-mail links provided that he/she also holds an account with the company. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)transactions made between individuals and businesses in the above mode are recognized by the laws of Hong Kong;

    (b)it knows if such transactions are recognised by the United States government; and

    (c)the Government will conduct a study regarding the problems (such as money laundering) involved in such mode of payment?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

17. Ir Dr Hon HO Chung-tai to ask:
(Translation)

As the directional signs of traffic lanes vary at different toll tunnels in the territory and some are even ambiguous, drivers might be misled and get in wrong lanes, resulting in traffic accidents. Besides, most of the toll tunnels have no underground pedestrian links, posing safety hazard to tunnel staff going between toll booths and the administration buildings. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of complaints received by the authorities about ambiguous directional signs of toll lanes and traffic accidents attributable to such ambiguous signs in the past three years;

    (b)whether it knows if the tunnel management companies concerned have considered improving the directional signs for toll collection; if this has been considered, of the details; and

    (c)whether it knows if the tunnel management companies concerned have any plans to provide underground pedestrian links for tunnels which have no such facilities at present; if there are such plans, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

18. Hon Emily LAU to ask:
(Translation)

In August last year, the Hospital Authority ("HA") conducted a follow-up audit survey on the working hours of public hospital doctors. The findings of the survey revealed that only 60% of the 90 departments audited could grant one rest day every week to doctors. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether they:
    (a)have assessed if the HA has violated the provision of the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) that employers shall grant not less than one rest day in every period of seven days to their employees;

    (b)have evaluated the adverse effects of excessively long working hours of public hospital doctors on their ability to properly diagnose and treat patients; and

    (c)have reviewed and examined the measures that should be taken to change the current situation in which the majority of health care services are provided by the public health care system, with a view to alleviating the workload of public hospital doctors; if so, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

19. Hon LAU Kong-wah to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding hill fires in country parks in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of hill fires in country parks each month in the past five years, as well as the five country parks with the most frequent hill fires;

    (b)of the total area of vegetation in country parks destroyed by hill fires in the past five years, as well as the amount and cost of replanted vegetation; and

    (c)of the time normally taken by the Fire Services Department or the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to arrive at the scene after receiving a hill fire report, and the criteria adopted for deciding whether a helicopter should be dispatched to assist in putting out the fire?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

20. Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that some schools consider that Education Department's primary one allocation mechanism, which makes use of computer programmes, lacks transparency, rendering it impossible for schools to know about parents' choices of schools for their children. The Government has implemented the new primary one admission system since the beginning of this school year, and the percentage of centrally allocated places has increased from the previous 35% to 52.8%, further exacerbating the problem of the lack of transparency in the allocation of places by computer programmes. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the current specific arrangements and procedures for the allocation of places by computer programmes involve human factors or administrative procedures which may cause schools to admit fewer students than it should have admitted according to the actual choice of the parents, and thus resulting in these schools operating fewer primary one classes;

    (b)how it can ensure the allocation of places by computer programmes is done in a fair and impartial manner; whether the Government will allow school representatives to observe the procedures of the allocation of places by computer programmes; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (c)whether it has any specific measures in place to enhance the transparency of the allocation of places by computer programmes; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)whether it will consider, after the parents have made their choices, providing individual schools with information on the numbers of parents who have chosen the schools and placed them in their first ten choices, so as to enhance the transparency of the mechanism; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

III. Bills

First Reading


Appropriation Bill 2002

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)


Appropriation Bill 2002 : Financial Secretary

IV. Members' Motions

Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance

Hon Mrs Selina CHOW to move the following motion:


RESOLVED that in relation to the Drug Dependent Persons Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres (Licensing) Ordinance (10 of 2001) (Commencement) Notice 2002, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 20 of 2002 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 6 February 2002, the period for amending subsidiary legislation referred to in section 34(2) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) be extended under section 34(4) of that Ordinance to the meeting of 13 March 2002.

Clerk to the Legislative Council