Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 12 June 2002

A 01/02-29

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 12 June 2002 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1. Magistrates Ordinance (Amendment of Fourth Schedule) Order 2002 89/2002
2. Fixed Penalty (Public Cleanliness Offences) Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 2) Order 2002 90/2002
3. Employment of Young Persons (Industry) (Amendment) Regulation 2002 91/2002
4. Gambling (Amendment) Regulation 2002 92/2002
5. Commodities Trading Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2002 93/2002
6. Clubs (Safety of Premises) (Exclusion) (Amendment) Order 2002 94/2002
7. Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Public Markets) (Designation and Amendment of Tenth Schedule) Order 2002 95/2002
8. Declaration of Markets Notice (Amendment) Declaration 2002 96/2002
9. Statutes of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Amendment) (No. 2) Statute 2002 97/2002
10. Road Traffic Legislation (Amendment) Ordinance 2002(3 of 2002) (Commencement) Notice 2002 98/2002


Other Paper

Report of the Finance Committee on the examination of the Estimates of Expenditure 2002-03 (June 2002)
(to be presented by Dr Hon Philip WONG, Chairman of the Finance Committee, who will address the Council)

II. Questions

1. Hon Fred LI to ask: (Translation)

The Consumer Council ("CC") issued a report entitled Regulating Deceptive, Misleading and Unfair Practices in Consumer Transactions in May last year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total number of complaints received by CC and the Administration over the past two years concerning deceptive, misleading and unfair trade practices; the number of complainants involved and the number of tourists among them; as well as the follow-up actions taken by CC or the Administration;

    (b)of the follow-up actions it has taken in relation to the above report and the latest progress of such actions; and

    (c)whether it will, as recommended by CC in the report, introduce legislative amendments to the relevant provisions in the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, the Summary Offences Ordinance and the Unconscionable Contracts Ordinance to enhance consumer protection; if so, of the legislative timetable and details of the amendments, if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Services

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

Regarding corruption cases involving employees of non-government public bodies, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of employees of such bodies prosecuted for and convicted of corruption and related offences in each of the past five years, together with a breakdown by rank;

    (b)whether there is an upward trend in the number of corruption cases involving employees of such bodies in recent years; if so, whether it has examined the reasons for such a trend, and whether it is attributable to the nature of services provided by individual bodies; and

    (c)of the further measures in place to curb corruption among employees of such bodies?
Public Officer to reply : Chief Secretary for Administration

3. Hon Emily LAU to ask:
(Translation)

The Women's Commission was established in January last year to assume the role of a "central mechanism" for identifying the needs and addressing the concerns of women, improving the delivery of services to women, promoting the rights and interests of women, as well as addressing the issues of gender stereotyping in the society. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)whether they have assessed if the Commission has been able to perform its functions as a central mechanism since its establishment; if it has, of the outcome of the assessment;

    (b)of any incidents so far to illustrate that the Commission has played the role of a central mechanism, such as cases in which the Commission has coordinated and collaborated with various government departments in handling women affairs; and

    (c)whether, upon the implementation of the system of accountability for principal officials, they will consider bringing the Commission under the purview of the Chief Secretary for Administration in order that it can better perform its function as a central mechanism?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

4. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


At its meeting on the 17th of last month, the Strategic Planning Committee of the Housing Authority decided to maintain the original plan to redevelop North Point Estate and an adjacent lot of government land in a mixed mode, i.e. a mix of private and public housing. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has compared the mixed-mode to the entirely-private mode of redevelopment of the site in the following aspects: revenues from the land auction, impacts of the sale of the completed buildings on the first-hand and secondary private residential markets in that district and on the property market as a whole, as well as the annual revenues from the levy of Government rates; if it has, of the results; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (b)of the measures it will take when it approves the deeds of mutual covenant concerned to prevent any future disputes between the owners of the public and private flats in respect of building maintenance and management issues?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

5. Hon Margaret NG to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that a number of agents that help clients handle their claims for accident compensation have been established one after another. Operating under the pledge of "no win, no charge", such agents enter into contracts with their clients for employing lawyers and paying the necessary fees on the clients' behalf. If the civil case is subsequently lost, the claimant concerned need not pay anything; if the claim is successful, then the agent will take 20% to 30% of the compensation received as its service charge. It is noted that the major clientele of these agents are those who are neither eligible to apply for legal aid nor able to afford the high legal costs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has taken note of the increase in the number of such agents and taken action to find out how they operate, including the legality of the way they operate;

    (b)of the measures it has to remind claimants of the points to note before signing a contract to engage such agents to make compensation claims; and

    (c)whether it has assessed if the increase in the number of such agents reflects inadequacies in the existing legal aid schemes and, in particular, whether the eligibility criteria for the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme are so demanding that most people are not qualified and have to engage the service of such agents even though they know that such agents reap a higher share of the compensation than that under the Scheme; and whether it will thus review its legal aid policy?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Justice

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

It has been reported that the Guangdong authorities are currently studying a proposal to construct a road tunnel to link up Shekou of Shenzhen and Zhuhai. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it knows the details of the proposal;

    (b)it has evaluated the impact of the infrastructure on the economic and trade development of Hong Kong; and

    (c)apart from the Shenzhen Western Corridor scheduled to be constructed, the Administration will expedite the studies on the construction of other infrastructures to link up the western part of Hong Kong and the Mainland; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officers to reply : Secretary for Transport
Secretary for Planning and Lands

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

It is learnt that the Mainland registered Guangdong Water Conservancy and Hydro-power Engineering Development Company Limited ("GWCH-PRC") and the Guangdong Water Conservancy and Hydro-power Engineering Development Company Limited ("GWCH-HK") bear a holding and subsidiary relation. Although GWCH-HK, the subsidiary company, is not one of the contractors approved by the authorities, it has undertaken many SAR Government public works projects with the authorization of its parent company. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the reasons for allowing GWCH-HK, which was not on the List of Approved Contractors for Public Works, to enter into contracts to undertake public works projects;

    (b)given that GWCH-HK, the subsidiary company, has gone into voluntary liquidation, of the progress of the Government's actions to recover from the parent company in the Mainland the losses arising from works that were unfinished;

    (c)of the current number of public works projects formerly undertaken by GWCH-HK which have to be re-tendered, and details of these projects, including the project titles, the estimated delay in time, additional costs arising from the delay and the names of the new contractors; and

    (d) whether, drawing on the experience in this incident, the Government will stipulate new requirements and work out new measures in future reviews, with a view to preventing the recurrence of similar incidents; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Works

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

Regarding the design and usage of ferry piers, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it knows if the authorities concerned plan to open the rooftops of ferry piers for tourists and the public to enjoy the harbour view and relax; if they do, of the details; if they do not, the reasons for that;

    (b)it knows if the authorities concerned plan to organize creative design competitions to provide the existing ferry piers with individual features; if they do, of the details; if they do not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)new ferry piers will be completed within the next three years; if so, whether it will request the authorities concerned to design such ferry piers with innovative ideas and organize creative design competitions; if it will; of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

*9. Hon Emily LAU to ask:


In view of the efforts of financial services regulators in the United States and Europe to review the issues of the conflict of interests of securities intermediaries and the impartiality of equity research reports, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether they have plans to conduct the same review in Hong Kong, including the conflict of interests on the part of securities intermediaries in having to give investment advice to institutional and direct investors on the one hand and promote their corporate clients on the other hand;

    (b)of the requirements for securities analysts to disclose their interests to customers, and whether the relevant authorities plan to tighten these requirements; and

    (c)of the number and nature of complaints made against securities analysts that the relevant authorities received in the past two years?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

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

It has been reported that, after installing passenger lifts in some MTR stations, the MTR Corporation Limited has removed all existing tactile guide paths for the visually impaired in these stations and installed new tactile guide paths which lead only to passenger lifts, and the removal of the original tactile guide paths has been criticized by some visually impaired persons as causing inconvenience to them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)which MTR stations have passenger lifts, and if the MTR Corporation Limited plans to install such facilities in all MTR stations; if so, of the installation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)the existing facilities, apart from tactile guide paths, to assist the visually impaired to move safely in MTR stations; and

    (c)the existing facilities to guide the visually impaired to use escalators or staircases when the passenger lift service is suspended?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

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

Regarding the noise barriers erected on existing roads and flyovers to divide dual carriageways, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the road sections and flyovers on which such noise barriers have been erected, and how the number of such noise barriers compares with that of the noise barriers erected on either side of road sections or flyovers;

    (b)of the average, maximum and minimum height of such noise barriers installed; and

    (c)given that traffic incidents often result in heavily congested traffic in the same direction, whether the Administration has, before deciding to erect such noise barriers, taken into account the need for fire engines and ambulances to arrive expeditiously at the scene of the incident, and whether it has come up with a solution in this respect, particularly with regard to the Tolo Harbour Highway where such noise barriers are being erected?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

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

Will the Government inform this Council whether it will consider uploading onto the web-site of the Department of Health, and in both Chinese and English, the information on each registered drug on sale in the market (including its name, registration number, usage, ingredients, properties, dosage, curative effects, side effects and points to note, etc.), for inspection by the public; if it will not, of the reasons for that?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

It is learnt that a bank which currently provides payment and collection account, autopay, direct credit and other services to government departments such as the Treasury, the Social Welfare Department and the Student Financial Assistance Agency has closed down a lot of its branches in recent years, including those situated in public housing estates in remote areas. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether, in selecting banks to provide services, it takes into account the number of the banks' branches and their distribution; and

    (b)regarding the revelation by the authorities in May last year that the Treasury was carrying out a study on the scope and arrangements for the tender regarding provision of banking services to the Government in order to enable more banks to provide such services, of the latest progress of this study, and whether the number of the banks' branches will be taken as a selection criterion?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Treasury

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

It has been reported that a reporter accompanied a container truck on a return trip between Hong Kong and Dongguan via the Man Kam To Crossing during non-peak hours, and spent nearly eight hours on travel and customs clearance, including a waiting time of five hours for customs clearance. The report has also pointed out that currently only one lane is opened at night at the Huanggang checkpoint, and the Logistics Development Council is planning to set a target clearance time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given the Government's incessant efforts to improve the efficiency of customs clearance, of the reasons for container trucks still having to wait for hours to complete the clearance formalities;

    (b)whether the Administration has discussed with the Mainland authorities increasing the number of lanes opened at the Huanggang checkpoint at night; if it has, of the details of the discussion; if it has not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it knows the details and implementation date of the target clearance time mentioned above?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

*15. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

The Government commissioned a technical study on the interconnection of the electricity supply systems of the two power companies in February 2001 and estimated that the study would be completed in June this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current progress of the study;

    (b)whether it will publish the report of the study; if not, of the reasons for that;

    (c)of the preliminary conclusions of the study on power interconnection; and

    (d)whether the study contains an estimation of the amount of investments required of the two power companies for further interconnection; if so, of the amount involved, and whether it has assessed the impact of such investments on the level of electricity tariffs in the future?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Services

*16. Dr Hon LO Wing-lok to ask:
(Translation)

A senior staff member of the Hospital Authority ("HA") suggested earlier that HA negotiate with medicine dealers to investigate the feasibility of assisting private hospitals in procuring medicines collectively with a view to reducing the drug costs of private hospitals. A senior medical practitioner of a public hospital has recently claimed to have obtained permission from the authorities concerned to procure medicines at low prices on behalf of all private hospitals and private medical practitioners in the territory. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows if HA has:

    (i)formulated plans to assist private hospitals and private medical practitioners in the procurement of medicines; if it has, of the reasons for not announcing the details of such plans so far;

    (ii)formulated the rules and approval procedures to be followed by its staff engaging in outside work or commercial activities; if so, of the details; and

    (iii)planned to become the sole medicine buyer of the territory and thereby control the medicine market; and

    (b)Whether it has assessed if the suggestions and arrangements proposed by HA are contrary to the principle of free economy?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

In reply to my question on 16 January this year, the Government advised that securities companies were not included in the List of Permitted Trades because their services were considered to be not essential, so they were not allowed to set up branches in shopping centres under the Housing Authority ("HA"). On the other hand, the Commercial Properties Committee of HA approved a new set of guidelines last month, which stipulates that retail businesses which are not on the List may be allowed, on a case by case basis, to operate in the HA's shopping centres. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the criteria adopted by HA for determining whether a certain trade is of an "essential" nature;

    (b)of the other factors, apart from whether or not the services of certain trades are "essential", taken into consideration by HA in determining the types of trades to be included in the List;

    (c)as the Government has advised that it would review the List from time to time, whether HA plans to include securities business in the List in the near future; if not, of the reasons for that; and

    (d) of the specific requirements to be met by the securities companies when they apply to set up branches in HA's shopping centres under the new guidelines and the restrictions to be imposed on the operation of their business, and which of these requirements and restrictions apply to securities business only?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*For written reply.

III. Members' Motions

  1. Associate degree


  2. Ir Dr Hon HO Chung-tai:
(Translation)

That, as the Chief Executive proposed in the 2000 Policy Address a rather ambitious target of raising the tertiary education popularization rate to 60% within 10 years, it is expected that the associate degree sector will be the most fast-growing area in the future development of higher education; and as the local higher education sector is undergoing reforms, this Council urges the Government to ensure, in its vigorous pursuit of the target, the quality of associate degrees so that the holders of such degrees can fulfil the requirements for employment and further studies and meet the needs of a knowledge-based economy.

Amendment to Ir Dr Hon HO Chung-tai's motion

Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong:
(Translation)

To delete "and as the local higher education sector is undergoing reforms" after "the most fast-growing area in the future development of higher education;", and substitute with "in this regard"; to add "opposes the withdrawal of or the reduction in the existing funding support for associate degree and comparable programmes, and" after ", this Council"; to delete "to ensure" after "urges the Government"; to add "popularization rate" after ", in its vigorous pursuit of the"; to add "to correspondingly allocate additional resources to enable students to have equal opportunities for receiving subsidised education, and to enjoy a school life they are entitled to, while ensuring" after "target,"; and to add "," after "the quality of associate degrees".

Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Education and Manpower

  • Population policy

    Hon James TIEN:
  • (Translation)

    That, in order to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness and to complement its long-term social and economic developments, this Council urges the Government to expeditiously formulate a comprehensive population policy.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Security

    Clerk to the Legislative Council