Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 5 December 2001

A 01/02-9

Legislative Council

Agenda
Wednesday 5 December 2001 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.The Ombudsman Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2001253/2001
2.Tax Reserve Certificates (Rate of Interest) (No. 12) Notice 2001254/2001
3.Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2001 (19 of 2001) (Commencement) Notice 2001255/2001
4.Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Regulation 2001 (L.N. 248 of 2001) (Commencement) Notice 2001256/2001


Other Papers

1. No.35 -Report of the Brewin Trust Fund Committee on the Administration of the Fund for the year ended 30 June 2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Home Affairs)

2. No.36 -Hong Kong Sports Development Board Annual Report 2000-2001
(to be presented by Hon Bernard CHAN)


II. Questions

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

It has been reported that the number of unemployed persons who were Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA") recipients increased in October this year by 4.6% compared to that of the preceding month, and the number of low-earnings CSSA cases was also on the rise. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective breakdowns of the unemployed or low-earnings CSSA cases by the following profiles: gender and age band of the recipients; whether they have been CSSA recipients in the past; the types of trades in which they were previously engaged or are engaged at present; and the period of unemployment of the unemployed CSSA recipients;

    (b)in order to provide employment opportunities for CSSA recipients, whether it will provide more community services specially targeted at the elderly, single-parent families and families with young children; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether government departments will accord priority of employment to CSSA recipients of the "unemployed" and "low-earnings" categories?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

2. Hon Kenneth TING to ask: (Translation)

Early last month, the Federal Open Market Committee of the United States ("US") decided to lower the federal funds rate by 0.5% but the corresponding adjustments made to the deposit and lending rates by most local banks were less than 0.5%. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the implications of the discrepancies between Hong Kong and US in interest rate adjustments on the stability of the linked exchange rate system;

    (b)whether it has assessed the specific impact of Hong Kong's smaller interest rate cut than that of the US on the territory's Gross Domestic Product and local industrial and commercial loans; if it has, of the details; if not, whether an assessment will be conducted expeditiously; and

    (c)given that the continuous deflation in Hong Kong has resulted in high lending rates in real terms, whether the SAR Government has an obligation and taken measures to urge the banks to lower the lending rates as much as possible in order to speed up the recovery of the local economy?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

3. Hon Ambrose LAU to ask:
(Translation)

Given that the Financial Secretary has indicated to the media that Hong Kong possesses the conditions for developing into a bond issuance centre in Asia, will the Government inform this Council of the measures it has taken and will take to promote Hong Kong's development in this direction?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

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

Regarding the development and management of the retail bond market open to the public, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)in view of the keen response from the public to the last few issues offered by the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited, whether it knows if the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the MTR Corporation Limited, the Airport Authority and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority have plans to issue retail bonds;

    (b)whether it plans to review the legislation governing the issuance of retail bonds with a view to reducing the costs of private companies in issuing retail bonds; and

    (c)of the measures in place to promote the development of the retail bond market and to increase the turnover of retail bonds in the secondary market?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

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

Will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)the authorities have carried out inspections on buildings completed in the past three years to check if materials with radioactive substances had been used in constructing the buildings; if so, of the results of such inspections;

    (b)it has examined the short-term and long-term effects on the health of people living or working in the buildings constructed with materials with radioactive substances; and

    (c)legislation is in place to regulate the permitted radiation levels of construction materials; if not, whether it will consider introducing legislative control?
Public Officers to reply:Secretary for Planning and Lands
Secretary for the Environment and Food
Secretary for Health and Welfare

6. Dr Hon David CHU to ask: (Translation)

Regarding the provision of facilities at footbridges to facilitate access by the disabled, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of existing footbridges which do not have access facilities for the disabled, and the districts in which they are mainly located; and

    (b)whether it plans to expeditiously retrofit such footbridges with access facilities for the disabled, especially those footbridges which are the only crossing facilities at their respective locations; if so, of the works schedule and the construction costs involved; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

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

Regarding the remuneration (including allowances) and fringe benefits for senior management staff of public organizations, namely, the MTR Corporation Limited, the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the Airport Authority, the Urban Renewal Authority and the Hospital Authority, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total amount of remuneration paid by each of the above-mentioned organizations to its senior management staff and its expenses on the relevant fringe benefits last year, as well as the changes in such expenditures in the past five years; the criteria adopted by each organization for determining and adjusting the remuneration and fringe benefits for its senior management staff, and whether the expenditures and the rates of adjustment concerned have been made public; and

    (b)whether it has issued to public organizations uniform guidelines on the levels of remuneration and fringe benefits for such staff; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Chief Secretary for Administration

*8. Hon IP Kwok-him to ask:
(Translation)

At present, persons using electric skateboards and electric bikes on roads are required to possess valid driving licences for "motor cycle and motor tricycle" and the owners concerned have to obtain the relevant registration licences. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the rationale and criteria for imposing the above requirements;

    (b)whether members of the public are required to possess valid driving licences for using electric skateboards and electric bikes in parks as well as on cycle tracks, private roads and footpaths and to display the relevant registration licences; if so, whether the Administration will consider exempting the use of electric skateboards and electric bikes below certain horsepower in such places from the above requirements since they move at a slow speed and are unlikely to cause serious injuries to other people in accidents; if no exemption will be given, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)given that all the electric skateboards and electric bikes currently on sale in the market do not meet the statutory requirements and therefore have not been licensed, whether the Administration will issue licensing guidelines setting out in detail the construction specifications on electric skateboards and electric bikes for reference by manufacturers and importers?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

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

It was reported that the mayor of Shenzhen had pointed out in late October this year that the cross-boundary clearance facilities at the boundary control points on the Hong Kong side lagged behind those on the Mainland side. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the respective average time required for immigration clearance of a passenger and a vehicle crossing the boundary during peak periods and at other times, and how such figures compare with those for the border control points on the Mainland; and

    (b)the measures in place and the new-technology facilities to be introduced to shorten the time required for immigration clearance of passengers and vehicles?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

*10. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask:


As several overseas airport authorities have taken relief measures for the airline industry which has been hard hit by the terrorist attacks on September 11, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows if the Airport Authority has considered introducing relief measures for airlines which are based in Hong Kong, such as reducing the rentals of their offices at the airport and extending the discount of 15% in respect of airport landing and parking charges by another six months; if there will be such relief measures, of their details; if there will be no such measures, the reasons for that? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Services

*11. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


Will the Government inform this Council whether it knows if local construction contractors are allowed to operate as principal construction contractors in the Mainland; if they are allowed, of the details of the registration requirements set by the Mainland authorities concerned, and the assistance it will render to local construction contractors in acquiring the qualifications necessary for registration? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Works

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

Regarding the supply and demand of international school places in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the number of international schools in each of the past five academic years;

    (b)the number of students who were Hong Kong permanent residents and its percentage in the total number of students in these schools, in each of the past five academic years;

    (c)the international schools which have long waiting lists, and of the solutions to this problem; and

    (d)the new measures to encourage school sponsoring bodies to set up more international schools?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

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

I have learnt that rents for units of the same size in different public rental housing ("PRH") estates in Tin Shui Wai and Tung Chung are not the same. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the details of each of the PRH estates that are occupied or completed in these two districts, including year of completion, total number of blocks and units, number of units of various sizes and rents payable; and

    (b)the criteria adopted for deciding on the rents for units of PRH estates situated in the same district but completed in different years?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*14. Hon Cyd HO to ask:


It has been reported that the land rents paid to the Government by many long-established private clubs in Hong Kong, which turn away the general public by setting stringent entry requirements or by charging exorbitant membership fees, are well below the market rates. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current number of private clubs in Hong Kong which pay land rents at below-market rates; the name, location, membership size, entry requirements, actual annual or monthly land rent payable to the Government and the amount of such land rent that should have been paid if calculated in accordance with the market rate in respect of each of these clubs;

    (b)of the criteria it has adopted for deciding which private clubs may pay land rents at below-market rates;

    (c)of the number of clubs which are granted land leases stipulating that the operators shall allow government-run activities to be held in their premises upon request; whether the Government has exercised such right in the past three years; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)whether it will review the policy of allowing private clubs to pay land rents at below-market rates; if so, of the review timetable; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Planning and Lands

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

Regarding the vacant commercial premises in the commercial centres managed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority ("HA"), will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the respective numbers of vacant commercial premises at the end of each of the past eight quarters, with a breakdown by the 18 local administrative districts;

    (b)as these commercial premises are usually rented out by tender, persons interested in leasing particular units can only submit their applications during the period when tenders for the units are invited and, as a result, have to check frequently whether the tender notices for the units have been published, if HA has plans to adopt other more flexible and convenient ways to lease out commercial premises to prospective lessees; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (c)if HA has plans to publish the information on vacant commercial premises in different districts on a regular basis, and to set up on-line information centres and telephone enquiry hotlines; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)if HA has plans to offer rental concessions for such premises to the loan recipients of the Self-employment Business Start-up Assistance Scheme; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*16. Hon CHOY So-yuk to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the speed enforcement camera systems installed by the Police at roadsides to assist in its enforcement actions against speeding, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the total number of cases in the past three years in which fixed penalty tickets were issued or prosecutions instituted by the Police against speeding drivers, based on the information generated by such systems, as well as its percentage in the total number of speeding cases in the same period; and

    (b)the names of the roads already installed with such a system, as well as the specific location of each of the camera units?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

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

To provide the necessary infrastructure facilities in Penny's Bay for the Hong Kong Disneyland Phase One development, the Civil Engineering Department awarded on October 22 this year a works contract valued at about 2.08 billion dollars, including horticultural works worth about 200 million dollars. It has been reported that 10 million dollars will be spent on purchasing from Australia 100 Phoenix canariensis to be planted on both sides of the entrance to Disneyland. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the justifications for spending 10 million dollars on purchasing these trees; whether it has considered purchasing trees of other varieties and lower prices, such as palms; if so, of the reasons for not purchasing such varieties in the end;

    (b)the reasons for purchasing Phoenix canariensis from Australia rather than Africa, which is its country of origin;

    (c)the measures to be put in place to ensure that these trees will not wither during delivery and planting processes; and

    (d)the varieties, quantities and values of other trees and flowers in the above horticultural works?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Services

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

With regard to improving the business operations in the commercial premises in housing estates and courts managed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority ("HA"), will the Government inform this Council whether it knows if the HA:
    (a)will, by making reference to the practice of private shopping malls, consider offering parking concessions to patrons of the above commercial premises; if not, of the reasons for that;

    (b)has studied the difficulties encountered by operators of the above commercial premises, and has put in place new measures to improve their business operations; and

    (c)has measures to prevent large restaurant conglomerates from monopolizing the catering business in its housing estates and courts, so as to protect the viability of the operations of small and medium restaurants?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*19. Hon Emily LAU to ask:


On the question of education for non-Chinese speaking children, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)of the current number of such children together with a breakdown according to their ethnic background;

    (b)of the current number of such children who cannot find school places in aided schools and the reasons for that;

    (c)whether the Administration has assessed the effectiveness of the grant introduced in the last school year which provides subsidies to primary and secondary schools at the rates of $2,750 and $4,080 respectively for each non-Chinese speaking child admitted; if so, of the assessment results; and

    (d)of the specific plans to meet the education needs of non-Chinese speaking children?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

*20. Hon Ambrose LAU to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the assistance provided to local accounting professionals in opening up overseas service markets, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)apart from the proposal in this year's Policy Address to grant $100 million to establish a fund to enhance the standard of local professional services, of the other measures to assist accounting professionals in opening up the service market in the Mainland after China's accession to the World Trade Organization; and

    (b)of the specific plans to assist accounting professionals in opening up other overseas service markets?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

*For written reply.

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


  2. RESOLVED that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 218 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be amended -
    (a)in section 4, in the new regulation 9B, by repealing "forthwith by the most direct route";

    (b)in section 5, in the new regulation 9C(b) -

    (i)by repealing ", a vessel or an aircraft" and substituting "or a vessel";

    (ii)by repealing ", vessel or aircraft" and substituting "or vessel".

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW to move the following motion:


  • RESOLVED that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 218 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be repealed.

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Secretary for the Environment and Food to move the following motion:


  • RESOLVED that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 219 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be amended by repealing section 3(2) and substituting -

      "(2) Regulation 13 is amended by adding -

        "(3) A licensed animal trader who contravenes regulation 4A shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine at level 3.". ".

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Secretary for the Environment and Food to move the following motion:

    RESOLVED that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 219 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be amended in section 4, in the new regulation 15(3), in the definition of "specified date", by repealing "30" and substituting "60".

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW to move the following motion:


  • RESOLVED that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 219 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be repealed.

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Hon Fred LI to move the following motion:


  • RESOLVED that the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Animal Traders) (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 219 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be amended in section 3 -
      (a)in subsection (1), by adding after "amended" -

      "-

      (a) by adding "4A," after "4(1)(a),";

      (b) ";
      (b)by repealing subsection (2).


  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Secretary for the Environment and Food to move the following motion:

    RESOLVED that the Food Business (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 220 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be amended in section 8, in the new section 37(3), in the definition of "specified date", by repealing "30" and substituting "60".

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW to move the following motion:

  • RESOLVED that the Food Business (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 220 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be repealed.

  • Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Hon Fred LI to move the following motion:


  • RESOLVED that the Food Business (Amendment) Regulation 2001, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 220 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 31 October 2001, be amended by repealing section 7 and substituting -

    "7.Offences and penalties

    Section 35 is amended -

    (a)in subsection (1)(a), by repealing "30A" and substituting "(1A), (1C), (1E) or (1G), 30A, 30B, 30C(1)";

    (b)in subsection (3), by adding -

    "(aa) in the case of an offence under section 30(1A), (1C), (1E) or (1G), 30B or 30C(1) a fine at level 4;".
    IV. Members' Bills

    First Reading


    1. Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd. (Hong Kong Consolidation) Bill

    2. The Bank of East Asia, Limited (Merger) Bill

    Second Reading (Debates to be adjourned)

    1.Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd. (Hong Kong Consolidation) Bill:Dr Hon David LI
    Public Officer to attend:Secretary for Financial Services

    2.The Bank of East Asia, Limited (Merger) Bill:Hon NG Leung-sing
    Public Officer to attend:Secretary for Financial Services


    V. Members' Motions
    1. Reducing government fees and charges

      Hon LAU Chin-shek:
    2. (Translation)

      That, as Hong Kong's economy remains in the doldrums with the unemployment rate on the rise again, this Council urges the Government to expeditiously reduce tuition, medical charges, business registration fees, as well as vehicle licence and driving licence fees, thereby alleviating the burden on the public.

      Public Officer to attend: Secretary for the Treasury

    3. Reviewing the labelling system for prepackaged foods

      Hon CHAN Kam-lam:
    4. (Translation)

      That, as the existing labelling system for regulating prepackaged foods is inadequate and fails to keep pace with the sales practices of food retailers and the developments in food technology, hence depriving consumers of the full right to information and adequate protection, this Council urges the Government to conduct a comprehensive review of the existing system, including:

      (a)imposing penalties for the sale of foods which have passed their durability dates;

      (b)the arrangements for exemption from labelling under the existing legislation;

      (c)exploring the feasibility of introducing a "nutritional value" label;

      (d)expeditiously legislating for the labelling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients; and

      (e)expeditiously devising a monitoring and labelling system for health foods.
    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for the Environment and Food

    Clerk to the Legislative Council