Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 12 December 2001

A 01/02-10

Legislative Council

Agenda
Wednesday 12 December 2001 at 2:30 pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
Attachment of Income Order (Amendment) Rules 2001260/2001


Other Papers

1. No.37 -Queen Elizabeth Foundation for the Mentally Handicapped Report and Accounts 2000-2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Health and Welfare)

2. No.38 -Annual Report on The Police Children's Education Trust and The Police Education and Welfare Trust for the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Security)

3. No.39 -Grantham Scholarships FundAnnual Report for the year 1 September 2000 to31 August 2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Home Affairs)

4. No.40 -The Sir Murray MacLehose Trust Fund Trustee's Report for the period 1 April 2000 to31 March 2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Home Affairs)

5. No.41 -Equal Opportunities CommissionAnnual Report 2000/01
(to be presented by Secretary for Home Affairs)

II. Questions

1. Hon Michael MAK to ask: (Translation)

To address the upsurge in the number of street sleepers, the Administration allocated $8.73 million in April this year to three non-government organisations for implementing a three-year action plan to provide a series of services to street sleepers, including mid-night outreaching visits, the provision of emergency fund, temporary accommodation, employment advice and job placement. However, the number of street sleepers has continued to rise from 1 203 by the end of April to 1 305 by the end of September. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the operation and effectiveness of such services since their commencement;

    (b)whether it has investigated the causes of the increase rather than decrease in the number of street sleepers over the half-year period after the above services were launched, and the corresponding measures in this regard; and whether it will consider allocating additional funds with a view to minimizing the number of street sleepers; and

    (c)of the number of mentally ill persons among such street sleepers, and the services that have been provided to them?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

It is learnt that there are cases in which insurance companies refuse to provide third party risks insurance cover for vehicle-owners who have been involved in several traffic accidents; and there are also complaints from businessmen in the taxi trade that, in granting mortgage loans on taxi licences and motor vehicles, finance companies require them to take out motor vehicle insurance from those insurance companies with which such finance companies have business association. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the circumstances under which insurance companies can decline applications for insurance cover for third party risks and whether the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance ("OCI") has issued guidelines to insurance companies in this respect;

    (b)of the Government department or statutory body which is responsible for overseeing the fees charged by insurance companies, and of the details of such work; and

    (c)whether it has assessed if insurance companies' association with finance companies will give rise to unfair competition in the insurance market; if the result of the assessment is in the affirmative, whether and how the OCI will deal with the matter?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

3. Hon James TIEN to ask:
(Translation)

As many people have criticized the remuneration and fringe benefits of civil servants as being far better than those of the employees of comparable ranks in the private sector, will the Government inform this Council whether it plans to comprehensively compare the remuneration and fringe benefits of civil servants with those of the employees of comparable ranks in the private sector; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

4. Hon LAU Wong-fat to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that at present Mainland scholars have to go through some rather complicated and time-consuming procedure applying to the relevant Mainland authorities for coming to Hong Kong to conduct academic researches or give lectures, and some of such scholars were granted permission just a few days before their scheduled dates for lecturing, thereby causing much difficulty to the local organizations concerned in making arrangements. In order to facilitate the exchanges and communication between the academic community in Hong Kong and its Mainland counterpart, will the Government consider discussing with the Central People's Government with a view to simplifying the relevant application procedure and shortening the processing time?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

5. Hon James TO to ask:
(Translation)

It was reported that the authorities stepped up efforts last month against the Falun Gong followers in Hong Kong engaged in a peaceful sit-in demonstration outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR ("Liaison Office"). In addition to seizing the demonstrators' banners and display boards, the Police sent officers to make door-to-door inquiries in the building next to the Liaison Office and stop passers-by to ask them if such demonstration activities had caused any nuisance to them and whether they would lodge complaints. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it has assessed if:
    (a)it was a waste of efforts and a nuisance to the public for the police to make door-to-door calls and to stop passers-by in handling the matter;

    (b)the way in which the police handled the matter was a wilful action to provoke the public's dissatisfaction, hatred and hostility against Falun Gong followers; and

    (c)the seizure of the banners and display boards from people engaged in peaceful demonstrations is a violation of the stipulations in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights regarding the protection of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

Regarding the provision of residential services to the mentally handicapped, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current total number of mentally-handicapped persons and, among them, the respective numbers of persons aged "between 50 and 59" and "60 or above";

    (b)whether it plans to provide adequate residential places for the mentally-handicapped elderly; and

    (c)whether, under the current stipulations, mentally-handicapped persons in residential institutions are required to move out upon reaching the age of 60; if so, of the residential arrangements for those who have to move out and whether it will consider abolishing the move-out requirement so as to save them the trouble of having to adapt to a new environment; if it will not abolish the requirement, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

Regarding employment agencies overcharging job seekers, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the respective numbers of complaints received by the Labour Department ("LD") last year and so far this year about employment agencies overcharging job seekers, together with a breakdown by the type of trades of the jobs which were offered to such persons;

    (b)the total and average amount of fees involved in those complaint cases received by LD since the beginning of this year, the highest fees charged, and a breakdown (by bands of 10%) of the complaints by the fee as a percentage to the job seeker's wages in the first month of employment; and

    (c)the new tricks used by employment agencies for overcharging which have come to the notice of LD?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

*8. Hon Eric LI to ask:
(Translation) In reply to my question raised on May 23 this year, the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting advised that through co-ordination of the Office of the Telecommunications Authority, six mobile phone network operators ("operators") were establishing a new system for the provision of inter-network Short Message Services ("SMS"), and that the system was expected to be completed in July this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the reasons for the operators' failure to provide inter-network SMS so far;

    (b)of the Asian countries and territories in which operators have launched such service as at the end of last month;

    (c)whether the expenses for solving the relevant technical networking problems are borne by the Government or shared among the operators;

    (d)of the impact of the expenses for establishing the system on mobile phone service charges; and

    (e)of the reasons for the relevant authority not having adopted measures to enable operators to provide such service at the initial stage when the mobile phone networks were established?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting

*9. Hon LEE Cheuk-yan to ask:
(Translation)

At present, the design, construction and operation of the three landfills and eight refuse transfer stations are undertaken by private contractors. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the name of the contractor in respect of each of the landfills and refuse transfer stations, as well as the prescribed and the remaining duration of the respective operation contracts;

    (b)the respective fees charged by each contractor for designing and constructing the relevant facilities, as well as the basis for calculating their waste treatment charges to be collected from the Government, and whether the operation contracts have specified the minimum amounts of waste to be treated and the minimum waste treatment charges payable by the Government; if so, of the specific details; and

    (c)the amount of waste treated, the total amount of waste treatment charges collected from the Government and the average waste treatment cost per tonne last year in respect of each contractor?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

*10. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask:


On 6th November, the Airport Express train service was suspended for more than three hours due to power failure, adversely affecting a large number of passengers including some overseas visitors who had departing flights to catch. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the number of suspension of the Airport Express service since it came into operation in 1998, and the number of passengers affected on each occasion;

    (b)as a result of the various suspensions of the Airport Express service, the number of passengers who missed their departing flights and, among them, the number of overseas visitors, and the number of departing aircrafts delayed; and

    (c)the remedial measures the MTR Corporation Limited has in place to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents and minimize the inconvenience caused to passengers?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

*11. Dr Hon David CHU to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the management of the Universal Studios of the United States recently reached a preliminary agreement with the Shanghai Municipal Government on developing a Universal Studios theme park in Shanghai. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)as the Chief Executive indicated on 4 November 1999 that the Universal Studios were interested in setting up a theme park in Hong Kong, whether it has made efforts over the past two years to bid for setting up a Universal Studios theme park in Hong Kong; if so, of the details of such efforts;

    (b)whether it knows the reasons for the Universal Studios choosing Shanghai instead of Hong Kong as the place for setting up a theme park; and

    (c)whether it has assessed the impacts of the setting up of the theme park in Shanghai on Hong Kong's tourism?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Services

*12. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


Will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)there has been a downward trend in the number of environmental offences committed by members of the construction industry over the past three years; and

    (b)instead of placing emphasis on the enforcement of environmental protection legislation, it will give advice and assistance to members of the construction industry in overcoming the technical and management problems that have been hindering them from complying with such legislation; if it will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

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

Concerning the sudden closure of private schools, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the avenues through which parents of the students of the Canadian Overseas International College, which closed down suddenly in October this year, can recover the tuition paid in advance; and whether it has investigated if financial difficulties were the genuine cause of the closure of the College; and

    (b)the measures it will take to avoid the recurrence of private schools closing down in the middle of an academic year because of financial difficulties, for instance, whether it will require the sponsoring bodies of the schools concerned to provide reliable financial guarantees such as bank guarantees, so as to protect the interests of students?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

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

It is learned that in carrying out property developments in rural areas in the New Territories, some private developers closed the pedestrian links on their land. These links have been used by the residents nearby for many years, and the closure has denied them access to their homes. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of complaints received over the past three years concerning land development projects affecting residents' access and the outcome of each complaint handled;

    (b)whether, in vetting and approving land development projects in rural areas in the New Territories, it has considered the issue of access for the residents nearby as well as the impact of such development projects on their daily life; and

    (c)of the criteria adopted for vetting and approving land development projects in rural areas in the New Territories?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Planning and Lands

*15. Hon Cyd HO to ask:
(Translation)

In late February this year, the Environment and Food Bureau ("EFB") conducted a 3-month public consultation exercise on "Labelling of Genetically Modified ("GM") Food". Also, in its Policy Objective published in October this year, the EFB indicated that it was still "taking into account the views received" and had yet to finalize its approach in this respect. Regarding the introduction of a labelling system for GM food in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the outcome of the consultation has indicated that the majority of the public are in support of the introduction of a mandatory labelling system, and the adoption of 1% as the GM content threshold above which a food product is required to be labelled;

    (b)of the reasons why the authority has not yet finalized its approach in this respect, more than six months after the close of the consultation period;

    (c)of the criteria adopted for evaluating public views and the weighting of each criterion;

    (d)of the ranks of the government officials responsible for evaluating and analyzing the public's views, the number of meetings they have held, the details of other relevant work and the conclusions drawn so far;

    (e)whether a mandatory labelling system will be implemented; if so, of the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (f)given that the State Council has promulgated on 23 May this year the Regulations on Administration of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organism Safety, which state that "the State introduces a labelling system for agricultural genetically modified organisms" and "imported agricultural genetically modified organisms which are not labelled as stipulated are allowed entry only after they have been labelled", whether the Administration has assessed the effects of the Regulations on the export and import of Hong Kong, and whether, in deciding on the implementation of a labelling system in Hong Kong, the fact that a mandatory labelling system has already been implemented in the Mainland will be an important factor for consideration?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

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

Since October last year, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has placed collection bins for separate collection of recyclable waste at various public places. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the daily average quantity of each category of waste collected by such collection bins;

    (b)the respective procedures for processing each category of waste; and

    (c)the specific measures in place to ensure that the separated waste will indeed be recycled; if there are no such measures, how it assesses the effectiveness of such collection bins in protecting the environment?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment and Food

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

Regarding the development of the land inside and adjacent to the Frontier Closed Area ("FCA"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total area of the land in FCA, and how it compares to that falling within the boundary of Shenzhen City;

    (b)whether it plans to reduce the area covered by the FCA to make land available for industrial, commercial or residential uses; if not, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)of the predominant uses of the land on the Hong Kong side adjacent to the FCA, and whether development plans and infrastructural projects have been formulated for such land; if so, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

The Leisure and Culture Committee of the Eastern District Council passed a motion at its meeting held on 21 September 2000 to strongly request that a town park be constructed on a piece of land zoned as the Aldrich Bay Open Space. Regarding the use of the site, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has received applications for developing the land for other uses, for example, an ice recreational activities and sports complex; if it has, of the details of the applications and its decisions; if it has decided to approve any of such applications, whether the lease will be granted on a long-term or short-term basis;

    (b)whether it will construct a town park on the land, as requested in the motion passed by the Committee; if not, how it will meet the needs of the residents for open space; and

    (c)of the planned long-term use of the land and when the relevant project will commence?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*19. Hon SIN Chung-kai to ask:
(Translation) In accordance with the Radiation Ordinance (Cap. 303), apart from those with exemption, licences are required for any person who uses radioactive substances, including the Tritium-filled self-luminous signs installed in buildings for showing exits and ways of escape in case of emergency. As the Radiation Ordinance is not binding on the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the use of those luminous signs in government buildings is not subject to regulation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the reasons for adopting different approaches in regulating the use of the luminous signs in government and private buildings;

    (b)whether it has conducted any study on the impact of the luminous signs on the health of people living or working in such buildings; if it has, of the findings; and

    (c)given that the radiation level of the luminous signs is very low, and users in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America are not required to obtain licences, whether it will consider removing such requirement; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

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

Regarding the participation of young persons (including primary and secondary school students) in cultural and arts activities, will the Government inform this Council of the following figures for the past 12 months:
    (a)the number of student concessionary tickets sold for each type of "cultural presentations", including music, dance, multi-art, theatre and Chinese Opera performances, and "cultural and entertainment programmes" held at government-managed performing venues, as well as its respective percentage in the total number of tickets sold;

    (b)the number of visits by primary and secondary school students to government-managed museums, and its percentage in the total number of visits; and

    (c)the number of borrowing of books by persons aged 21 or below at public libraries, together with a breakdown of this figure by gender and age group of the borrowers?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*For written reply.

III. Motions

Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance

Secretary for Constitutional Affairs to move the motion
to amend the Electoral Procedure (Chief Executive Election) Regulation published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 233 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 14 November 2001 IV. Members' Motions

  1. Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance

    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong to move the following motion:


  2. RESOLVED that the Maximum Amount of Election Expenses (Chief Executive Election) Regulation, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 232 of 2001 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 14 November 2001, be amended, in section 2, by repealing "$9,500,000" and substituting "$4,000,000".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

  3. Reviewing the pay adjustment mechanisms of statutory bodies and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority

    Hon Albert HO:
  4. (Translation)

    That this Council urges the Government to expeditiously review the existing mechanisms for adjusting the pay and fringe benefits of senior executives of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and statutory bodies, including the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, the Hong Kong Housing Society, the Urban Renewal Authority and the Airport Authority, and consider introducing the following measures to improve the way in which they use public funds and to enhance their accountability:

    (a)to review the effectiveness of appointing policy secretaries to the managing boards of these bodies to play a monitoring role;

    (b)to draw reference from the pay adjustment mechanism of the civil service and devise for these bodies a pay adjustment mechanism which is clear, transparent and acceptable to the public;

    (c)to put these bodies under the scrutiny of the Director of Audit so as to enhance their accountability in their operation; and

    (d)to require the senior management of these bodies to regularly report to the Legislative Council.

    Amendments to Hon Albert HO's motion

    (i)Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong: (Translation)

    To add "public" after "the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and statutory"; and to delete ", including the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, the Hong Kong Housing Society, the Urban Renewal Authority and the Airport Authority,".
    (ii)Hon LAU Kong-wah: (Translation)

    To delete "review the effectiveness of appointing policy secretaries to the managing boards of these bodies to play a monitoring role" after "(a) to" and substitute with "ensure that the policy secretaries appointed to the boards of management of these bodies discharge their monitoring duties effectively and are accountable to the Legislative Council"; to delete "draw reference from the pay adjustment mechanism of the civil service and" after "(b) to"; to add "and fringe benefits" after "devise for these bodies a pay"; and to delete "require the senior management of these bodies to regularly report to the Legislative Council" after "(d) to" and substitute with "provide that the committees and subcommittees of the Legislative Council may require the chairpersons and chief executive officers of these bodies to attend their meetings and answer questions from Members".


    Public Officer to attend: Chief Secretary for Administration

  5. Reviewing the Government's tendering system

    Hon Abraham SHEK:


  6. That, in view of the repeated occurrence of substandard construction in public works, this Council urges the Government to review and improve the tendering system for all its contracts, especially the lowest-bid selection criterion, thereby ensuring government contractors' quality of work.

    Public Officer to attend: Secretary for Works
Clerk to the Legislative Council