Council Meeting (Agenda) 19 January 2005


A 04/05-16

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 19 January 2005 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 1) (Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited) Order4/2005
2.The Ombudsman Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 1) (Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited) Order5/2005
3.Specification of Public Office6/2005
4.Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage) Regulation7/2005
5.Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Fees) Regulation8/2005

Other Paper

No.52-Legal Aid Services Council
Annual Report 2003-2004
(to be presented by Chief Secretary for Administration)

II. Questions

1. Hon Andrew LEUNG Kwan-yuen to ask: (Translation)

Regarding the performance and conduct of civil servants, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that the authorities revised the procedures in 2003 to enable them to take action under Section 12 of the Public Service (Administration) Order to require an officer to retire in the public interest, if his/her performance is rated unsatisfactory within an appraisal period of 12 consecutive months and evidence shows that appropriate counselling and warning have been given by the management, whether they have assessed if the procedures can facilitate management actions and the effectiveness of such actions; if they have, of the assessment results; and

    (b)whether measures will be taken to further enhance the performance of civil servants and maintain their integrity in order to ensure that Hong Kong will continue to have a meritorious and honest civil service; if so, of the details of these measures?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

2. Hon Martin LEE to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the protection of natural rivers and streams in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the existing policies on the conservation of natural rivers and streams in Hong Kong, as well as a breakdown of the laws concerned; the government departments responsible for enforcing the relevant laws; and the enforcement measures taken by them;

    (b)whether it has conducted surveys on the natural rivers and streams in Hong Kong so as to establish a databank on their locations, ecosystems and water flows; if so, of the situation as reflected by the present data; and

    (c)as the natural rivers in Hong Kong have been polluted, damaged or channelized continuously, resulting in serious disruption of their ecosystems, whether the authorities will consider enacting comprehensive legislation on the protection of natural rivers so as to curb such situation?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

3. Hon Margaret NG to ask:


Regarding the enforcement of arbitral awards and judgements in commercial matters, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that in response to the request made by the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services in March last year for statistics on the number of applications for enforcement of Hong Kong arbitral awards in the Mainland, the Acting Deputy Solicitor General informed the Panel in July that a reply from the Mainland authorities was still awaited, what statistics and information have been obtained so far, particularly the up-to-date numbers of applications made, awards enforced as well as unsuccessful applications and the reasons for their being unsuccessful; and

    (b)how the enforcement situation as reflected in the statistics and information in (a) above will affect the Government's position on the current negotiation on the reciprocal enforcement of judgements in commercial matters between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Mainland?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Justice

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

Under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance and the Waste Disposal Ordinance, a person commits an offence if he discharges sewage or disposes of waste into streams without prior approval. However, I have learnt that in a number of places in the New Territories, such as Pat Heung, Ping Shan and Tin Shui Wai, the streams are heavily polluted as a result of illegal discharges, which not only constitutes a visual blight, but also causes foul smell and mosquito breeding, posing health hazards to the local residents. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has looked into the reasons for the authorities' failure to curb those activities which have caused pollution in streams, and whether such reasons include loopholes in the relevant legislation, inadequate enforcement efforts, etc.;

    (b)it has assessed the effectiveness of night-time raids on illegal discharge of sewage from pig farms and soya product factories late at night; and

    (c)it will consider devising more comprehensive measures to tackle pollution in streams caused by illegal discharges?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

5. Hon Frederick FUNG to ask:
(Translation)

The arrangement whereby a certain number of members of the Legislature are now returned by functional constituencies has been adopted for nearly 20 years since 1985/86. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has assessed the merits and demerits of the above arrangement in regard to the social and constitutional development of Hong Kong; if so, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (b)given that Article 68 of the Basic Law provides that the ultimate aim in respect of the method for forming the Legislative Council is the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage, whether it has assessed if the adoption of the arrangement whereby a certain number of members of the Legislative Council are returned by functional constituencies for a long period of time constitutes a violation of such a provision; if the assessment result is in the affirmative, of the timetable for abolishment of such an election method and what specific measures will be adopted in this regard; if the assessment result is in the negative, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

6. Dr Hon Fernando CHEUNG to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the results of survey published last month reviewed that among 509 young people in the 15-24 age group interviewed, 19% indicated that they were unemployed, and 60% indicated that the main difficulty they encountered in seeking jobs was their lack of work experience, followed by their academic qualifications and skills being below those required by the positions. Some young people said in a press conference that as they lived in the remote North District and came from poor families, the travelling expenses on going to urban areas for job-hunting were a heavy burden for them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the measures it will take to assist young people from low-income families in the remote areas in finding work in urban areas;

    (b)whether it will consider including more career-oriented subjects in the junior secondary school curriculum to cater for the needs of young junior secondary school leavers, and extending free education from nine years to 12 years to enhance the employment opportunities of young people; and

    (c)whether it has assessed the adequacy and effectiveness of existing employment support measures for unemployed young people and the areas that can be improved; if it has, of the assessment results?
Public Officers to reply :Secretary for Education and Manpower
Secretary for Home Affairs
Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*7. Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG to ask: (Translation)

The tsunami in South Asia last month resulted in hundreds of Hong Kong residents travelling in Southern Asia losing contact with their families, and some of them were injured or died. The Government has been criticized for underestimating the number of Hong Kong residents affected by the disaster at the initial stage, and the support team comprising officers from various Government departments was not sent to the stricken regions until four days after the incident, which was considered to be a slow response. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it has plans to set up a standing mechanism to provide assistance to Hong Kong residents in danger outside Hong Kong, which includes a one-stop telephone hotline; if it will not, of the reasons for that?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

Will the Government inform this Council whether it knows the following regarding the Hong Kong Productivity Council ("HKPC") and its subsidiaries in each of the past three years:
    (a)the respective total number of employees;

    (b)the respective establishments of their departments/units, and the respective numbers of employees who were made redundant, newly employed and transferred;

    (c)the respective intakes, tuition fees and profits of the training courses conducted;

    (d)whether non-Hong Kong residents were employed; if so, the number involved and its percentage in the total number of employees;

    (e)among the organisations they served, the respective numbers of such organisations which did and did not operate manufacturing processes in Hong Kong;

    (f)the respective amounts of funds dedicated to serving the two types of organisations mentioned in item (e), and the respective percentages of such amounts in the total amounts spent; and

    (g)if HKPC and its subsidiaries do not have the above statistics, the reasons for that, and whether the Administration will request them to collect and keep the relevant statistics?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology

*9. Hon Jeffrey LAM Kin-fung to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of the changes in the trading volume of securities, stockbrokers' commission income, and trading activity of securities investors after the abolition of the minimum brokerage commission rule on 1 April 2003, as compared to those before the abolition, as well as the numbers of securities companies which have wound up their businesses and of securities professionals who have become unemployed so far, due to the abolition of the above rule? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

*10. Hon WONG Kwok-hing to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the details of the funding schemes currently offered by government departments to render support to new arrivals from the Mainland in education, housing, financial assistance, childminding and medical services, together with a breakdown of funding amounts allocated to each of the above areas for the above persons and the entire population of Hong Kong respectively in each of the past five years; and

    (b)as the Consultation Paper on "Legislating Against Racial Discrimination" points out that new arrivals from the Mainland sometimes face discrimination by Hong Kong Chinese persons who form the majority, of the details of the education and publicity programmes and measures currently implemented by the authorities to eliminate discrimination against new arrivals from the Mainland, as well as the respective funding amounts allocated to such programmes and measures in each of the past five years?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*11. Hon Alan LEONG Kah-kit to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows the following information about each statutory body:

    (i)its date and purpose of establishment;

    (ii)total amount of public assets injected into it and funding granted to it by the Government since its establishment;

    (iii)current number of its staff members (including contract, temporary and part-time staff) who are receiving remuneration higher than the first salary point of the Directorate Pay Scale of the civil service;

    (iv)whether it has adopted the civil service pay scales for remunerating its staff; and

    (v)its total expenditure on staff remuneration and allowances in the previous year; and

    (b)how it monitors the operation, number of staff employed, remuneration system and expenditures of statutory bodies?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

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

Will the Government inform this Council of the current ordinances which:
    (a)have not yet commenced;

    (b)contain some provisions that have not yet commenced; and

    (c)have been enacted by the legislature for more than six months but have not yet commenced, the reasons for that and the expected commencement dates of such ordinances?
Public Officer to reply : Chief Secretary for Administration

*13. Dr Hon YEUNG Sum to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of welfare service units contracted out through competitive bidding by the Social Welfare Department since 2001, the number of tenders received for the welfare service units, and how the unit costs of the services contracted out through the above mode compare to those under the Lump Sum Grant; and

    (b)whether it has assessed the total savings achieved by adopting the system of contracting out through competitive bidding, and the impact of the system on the quantity and quality of welfare services; if it has, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

Will the Government inform this Council of the number of newspapers and periodicals, other than those classified as indecent articles under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles (Cap. 390), whose registration under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance (Cap. 268) was cancelled or deemed to have lapsed due to cessation of publication in the past 10 years, and the names of these publications, the dates of their first registration, as well as the dates at which their registration was cancelled or deemed to have lapsed? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*15. Dr Hon Joseph LEE Kok-long to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding health care personnel in public hospitals falling victim to violence while on duty, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)in each of the past five years:

    (i)of the number of such cases reported to the relevant authorities, with a breakdown by the types of violence used and the categories of places where the cases occurred;

    (ii)of the reported number of health care personnel assaulted, with a breakdown by the hospitals and grades to which they belonged; and

    (iii)of the respective numbers of attackers who were prosecuted and convicted of assaults, and the punishments imposed on them by the Courts;

    (b)whether the authorities have reviewed if the existing security measures in public hospitals and the support provided to their staff are adequate; if they have, of the review results; if not, of the reasons; and

    (c)of the measures to strengthen the communication between health care personnel and patients as well as their relatives and friends, so as to avoid the occurrence of violent incidents?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

It has been reported that, in view of the recent mounting pressure to appreciate the Renminbi ("RMB"), the State Administration of Foreign Exchange has taken a series of measures to relax the restrictions on outflow of funds in order to relieve the pressure to appreciate the RMB. Furthermore, the implementation of Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors ("QDII") scheme as well as the permission for Mainlanders to invest in Hong Kong will both facilitate inflow of funds from the Mainland to Hong Kong, and help the Hong Kong investment markets and the real estate sector to gradually recover, increasing job opportunities in Hong Kong and easing the pressure to appreciate the RMB. As the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government ("HKSAR Government") said in June last year that the Central People's Government had approved the scheme in principle and were working out the relevant details, and that the HKSAR Government would liaise closely with the relevant the Mainland authorities on this matter, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the progress of such liaison; and

    (b)the specific measures to attract QDII to invest in Hong Kong?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

*17. Hon LEE Wing-tat to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has, in compliance with the General Conditions set out in the paper released for the Concept Plan Competition for the Development of an Integrated Arts, Cultural and Entertainment District at the West Kowloon Reclamation in Hong Kong ("the Scheme Area"), appointed a team through the normal consultants selection process to finalize a detailed masterplan for the Scheme Area on the basis of the winning conceptual proposals; if such a team has been appointed, of its composition and terms of reference; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)as the General Conditions also stipulate that based on the detailed masterplan, the authorities will then decide on how the Scheme Area will be developed, and that packages within the Scheme Area suitable for private sector development will be decided by public tender, while subsequent architectural design competitions may be conducted for selected individual buildings/facilities, whether the authorities have acted in violation of the General Conditions in issuing the Invitation For Proposals instead of public tender documents for the development of the Scheme Area, and whether they will conduct architectural design competitions for selected individual buildings/facilities; if they will, of the details of the competitions; if they will not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it will negotiate with the successful proponent on the development parameters in the proponent's proposal before entering into a provisional agreement; if so, whether the authorities will, in the course of negotiation, impose restrictions on the scope of alterations that may be made to the proposal; if so, of the details of the restrictions?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands

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

Recently, some owners of small-scale travel agents have reflected to me that the practice of charging travel agents annual licence fees is unfair and the rate is on the high side. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the unit cost incurred by the Travel Agents Registry in issuing licences to travel agents, the respective percentages of various cost components and the cost-recovery ratio concerned;

    (b)how the rates of licence fee payable by travel agents compare to those of other service industries (such as the catering industry and estate agents), with the figures concerned given in detail; and

    (c)of other trades in which operators are also required to pay similar annual licence fees for their operation, and the rates of the licence fee concerned?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*19. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


Whilst the latest unemployment rate of the construction sector in Hong Kong still remains persistently high at 15.1%, which is well above the overall unemployment rate of 6.8%, it is reported that Macau is facing a shortage of construction workers, and the Macau authorities are discussing with the Hong Kong authorities the importation of Hong Kong construction workers. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the progress of the above discussions;

    (b)whether it has taken any actions to assist the construction workers of Hong Kong in finding jobs in Macau; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)of the actions it has taken to ensure that the Hong Kong construction workers' labour rights are adequately protected while working in Macau?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*For written reply.

III. Bills

First Reading


Merchant Shipping (Limitation of Shipowners Liability) (Amendment) Bill 2005

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)

Merchant Shipping (Limitation of Shipowners Liability) (Amendment) Bill 2005 :Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

IV. Motions

Proposed resolution under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance

Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food to move the following motion:


RESOLVED that the following Regulations, made by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board on 28 December 2004, be approved -

    (a)the Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment)(No. 4) Regulation 2004; and

    (b)the Poisons List (Amendment)(No. 4) Regulation 2004.

    (The two Regulations have been issued on 31 December 2004
    under LC Paper No. CB(3) 262/04-05)
V. Members' Motions

  1. Introducing a fair competition law for the oil industries

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW: (Translation)

    That, as the adjustments of local oil product prices are always quick in going up but slow in coming down and the pace of price adjustments by various oil companies tends to be synchronized, while oil product pump prices often fail to truly reflect import costs, this Council urges the Government to actively consider introducing a fair competition law and other effective measures for the oil industries, including requesting the Competition Policy Advisory Group to take heed of any unfair mode of competition that may emerge in the local oil market, and entrusting the Group to monitor and study the situation, with a view to increasing competition in the oil industries and enhancing the transparency of product prices, thereby avoiding oligopoly, promoting fair competition and safeguarding commercial clients and the public against high oil prices.

    Amendments to Hon Mrs Selina CHOW's motion
    (i)Hon WONG Kwok-hing: (Translation)

    To delete "actively consider introducing" after "this Council urges the Government to" and substitute with "comprehensively introduce"; and to delete "for" after "other effective measures" and substitute with "starting from".

    (ii)Hon Fred LI: (Translation)

    To add "comprehensive" after "consider introducing a"; to delete "for the oil industries" after "other effective measures"; to delete "requesting" after "including" and substitute with "reforming"; to delete "to take heed of" after "the Competition Policy Advisory Group" and substitute with "and providing it with statutory power of investigation, so as to enable it to regulate"; and to delete "and entrusting the Group to monitor and study the situation," after "local oil market,".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

  2. Enacting legislation on freedom of information

    Hon James TO: (Translation)

    That this Council urges the HKSAR Government to enact legislation on freedom of information so as to safeguard Hong Kong's freedom of the press and information, and to enhance the transparency and accountability of the HKSAR Government with a view to consolidating the core values of Hong Kong.

    Amendments to Hon James TO's motion
    (i)Hon Albert Jinghan CHENG: (Translation)

    To add ", as the current Code on Access to Information is inadequate for safeguarding freedom of the press, freedom of information and the public's right to know," after "That"; to add "and amend the existing Official Secrets Ordinance and other legislation that may be in conflict with freedom of the press, freedom of information and the public's right to know," after "freedom of information"; and to add "as well as the public's right to know" after "freedom of the press and information".

    (ii)Hon TSANG Yok-sing: (Translation)

    To add ", on the premise of fully consulting various sectors of the community and having regard for the public's right to know and their social responsibilities," after "freedom of information"; to delete "and to" after "press and information,"; and to delete "with a view to consolidating" after "accountability of the HKSAR Government" and substitute with ", safeguard the public interests of the Hong Kong community, and consolidate".

    (iii)Hon Margaret NG: (Translation)

    To add "to provide for: (a) the public's right of access to information held by public authorities; (b) clearly defined categories of information the disclosure of which may be refused; and (c) the mechanisms for enforcing the right and for appeal," after "freedom of information"; and to add "and facilitating public participation in assessing and proposing public policies" after "core values of Hong Kong".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Home Affairs

Clerk to the Legislative Council