Council Meeting (Agenda) 13 October 2004


A 04/05-2

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 13 October 2004 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / InstrumentsL.N. No.
Companies (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 (30 of 2004) (Commencement) Notice 2004154/2004

Other Papers

1. No.1-Report by the Trustee of the Prisoners' Education Trust Fund for the period from 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004
(to be presented by Secretary for Security)

2. No.2-Annual Report of the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund Board 2003-04
(to be presented by Secretary for Economic Development and Labour)

3. No.3-Electrical and Mechanical Services Trading Fund Annual Report 2003/04
(to be presented by Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works)

4. No.4-Environment and Conservation Fund Trustee Report 2003-2004
(to be presented by Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works)

5. No.5-Report by the Trustee of the Customs and Excise Service Children's Education Trust Fund for the year ending 31 March 2004, together with the Director of Audit's Report and the Audited Statement of Accounts
(to be presented by Secretary for Security)

6. No.6-Audited Statement of Accounts of the Customs and Excise Service Welfare Fund and its Summary, together with the Director of Audit's Report
(to be presented by Secretary for Security)

7. No.7-The Legislative Council Commission Annual Report 2003-2004
(to be presented by the President)

8. No.8-The Government Minute in response to the Sixteenth Annual Report of the Ombudsman issued in June 2004
(to be presented by Chief Secretary for Administration, who will address the Council)

9. No.9-Audited Statement of Accounts and Auditors' Report for the Fish Marketing Organization for the year ended 31 March 2004
(to be presented by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food)

10. No.10-Audited Statement of Accounts and Auditors' Report for the Vegetable Marketing Organization for the year ended 31 March 2004
(to be presented by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food)

11. No.11-Marine Fish Scholarship Fund Trustee's Report and Audited Statement of Accounts and Auditors' Report on the Fund for the year ended 31 March 2004
(to be presented by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food)

12. No.12-Agricultural Products Scholarship Fund Trustee's Report and Audited Statement of Accounts and Auditors' Report on the Fund for the year ended 31 March 2004
(to be presented by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food)

II. Questions

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

It is learnt that the Government has planned to adopt the Public Private Partnership approach in the reprovisioning and operation of the Sha Tin Water Treatment Works, and that a relevant staff union has requested to meet the Bureau Secretary concerned to discuss the issue when petitioning against the plan in April this year. However, so far the Bureau Secretary has not yet received the staff union. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the reasons why the Bureau Secretary has not yet received the staff union;

    (b)as the consultancy study on the feasibility of the plan was already completed in May this year, when the authorities expect to decide whether or not to implement the plan; and

    (c)whether it will set a timetable for the work of the plan such as public consultation, advance works, preparation of contract documents and award of contracts, etc; if it will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

2. Hon LI Kwok-ying to ask:
(Translation)

To enhance the sense of national identity among the public, the authorities have produced a short promotional video called "Our Home, Our Country" and broadcast it daily on the three television stations before their respective evening news programmes since 1 October. It has been reported that some members of the public consider that the short video has insufficient contents while others have negative feelings towards it, and the Broadcasting Authority has also received several complaints in this respect. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has assessed the public's opinion of this short video; if so, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)it will revise the contents of the short video in the light of the public's opinion; if so, of the details of the revision; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)given the negative feedback from some members of the public on the short video, it will consider adjusting the way of presentation when planning other promotional activities which are aimed at enhancing the sense of national identity among the public; if so, of the details of the adjustment; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

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

It has been reported that some bus drivers and trade unions complained that the franchised bus companies which they served forced the drivers to operate buses of different models and run various routes every day, and they were not given reasonable time for meal, rendering the drivers more prone to mistakes and thereby increasing the chances of traffic accidents. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has received complaints about the above problems from bus drivers or trade unions of franchised bus companies over the past three years; if so, of the number of complaints received, the details of the authorities' response and how the cases have been handled;

    (b)of a breakdown, by type and number, of the accidents and complaints in respect of the franchised bus services provided by the New World First Bus Services Limited, as well as the annual rates of accident and complaint, in the past three years, and how such figures compare to those of the former China Motor Bus Company; and

    (c)whether any guidelines have been formulated on the bus models and number of routes to be run by franchised bus drivers every day, as well as the timing of breaks for meal and rest, etc.; if so, of the details; if not, whether such guidelines will be formulated; if they will be, when they will be formulated and issued?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

4. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

According to the statistics published by the Census and Statistics Department, there were more than 182 000 households earning a monthly income less than $4,000 in the second quarter of this year, representing 8.2% of the total households. Moreover, while 2.8% of the male workforce earned less than $4,000 a month, the figure for female workers stood at 9.9%, indicating that female workers are earning much less. Despite a 12.1% growth in the economy in the second quarter of this year, there has not been a significant decrease in the number of low-income earners. Regarding measures to relieve the financial hardship of low-income earners, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it will formulate a comprehensive policy to eradicate poverty and, for the purpose of implementing this policy, establish a poverty line, commit more resources in this regard, as well as adopt a "people-oriented" approach in implementing the policies;

    (b)it has looked into the reasons for the lower earnings of female workers, and whether it will formulate a policy to promote greater gender equality in employment; and

    (c)it will review the various arrangements under the existing Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (including the basic rates and various allowances), so as to ensure that low-income earners can maintain a basic standard of living?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

5. Hon CHIM Pui-chung to ask:
(Translation)

I have learnt that the Shenzhen authorities will review and rearrange the boundary facilities on the Mainland side at Lo Wu in the near future. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has drawn up corresponding plan in the light of the review and arrangement by the Shenzhen authorities;

    (b)as Hong Kong claims to be Asia's World City, and hundreds of thousands of passengers cross the boundary at Lo Wu every day, whether it has assessed if the boundary facilities on the Hong Kong side at the Lo Wu Cross Boundary Footbridge are adequate and capable of meeting present-day needs; if it has, of the results; and

    (c)whether it has conducted safety assessments of overcrowding at the Footbridge?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

The State Ministry of Commerce and the Hong Kong & Macau Affairs Office of the State Council jointly announced early last month a new investment facilitation policy for Mainland enterprises to invest in the Hong Kong and the Macau special administrative regions ("investment facilitation policy") so as to further encourage and support Mainland enterprises to invest in Hong Kong and Macau. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the measures the relevant authorities will launch to tie in with the implementation of the investment facilitation policy, and the targets of these measures, as well as the result they anticipate;

    (b)given that Mainlanders are required to apply for visas to enter Hong Kong, the policy on foreign exchange control is still in force, and as there are differences between the business rules and regulations in China and Hong Kong, of the relevant authorities' measures to facilitate Mainland enterprises to invest in Hong Kong; and

    (c)whether the relevant authorities have considered amending the policy on investment migrants to tie in with the implementation of the investment facilitation policy; if they have, of the outcome of the consideration; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply:Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology
Secretary for Security

*7. Hon LI Fung-ying to ask: (Translation)

The Administration plans to merge the Environment Branch of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau into the Environmental Protection Department ("EPD") on April 1 next year, and to delete four directorate and 29 non-directorate posts. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the titles of the posts proposed to be deleted, and the future work arrangements for the existing staff members in these posts; and

    (b)as the work of EPD often involves professional knowledge and judgement, of the reasons for the relevant authorities' decision to fill some EPD posts at Assistant Director or above ranks by staff from the Administrative Officer grade instead of from the professional grade, after the merger?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

Will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has compared the prices net of tax of various types of oil in Southeast Asian countries and advanced countries in Europe and America with those of Hong Kong; if so, of the results of the comparison; and

    (b)it has looked into the reasons for the oil price differences between the above countries and Hong Kong, and whether the reasons include the import of oil from different places, and the differences in costs of setting up filling stations?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*9. Hon Miriam LAU to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that some academics suspect that one of the possible causes of the recent accidents involving wheels coming off vehicles in motion might have been the direction in which the screws of the wheels were tightened. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of accidents involving wheels coming off vehicles in motion in the past three years, and the proportion of the wheels concerned which were on the left side of the vehicles to those on the right side;

    (b)whether it has studied the causes of wheels coming off vehicles; if so, of the results; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it will consider making it a mandatory requirement that the screws of the wheels on the left and right sides of imported vehicles must be tightened in the opposite directions; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

It has been reported that write-offs by the Hospital Authority ("HA") due to patients not paying hospital or consultation fees in the past three years have been serious, with the amount exceeding fifty million dollars. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the respective amounts of medical fees written off by HA in each of the past three financial years, together with details of the types of non-payment, categories of the defaulters (such as Hong Kong permanent residents, people from the Mainland and overseas visitors) and the amounts of non-payment for each year;

    (b)if HA has an established procedure for recovering payments in default; if it has, of the details of the procedure and the percentage of the amounts successfully recovered; and

    (c)the amount of administration fees involved in executing such procedure, and such amount expressed as a percentage of the amount successfully recovered?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*11. Hon KWONG Chi-kin to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the Hospital Authority ("HA") intends to train non-professional attendants to become General Care Assistants for taking up some of the duties currently performed by nurses, such as cleansing patients' wounds, from the end of this year onwards. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
    (a)the details of this arrangement and whether HA has consulted the staff of the grades concerned;

    (b)how HA will enssure the quality of the relevant health care services and safeguard the health of patients after the handling of the care procedures has been transferred to the non-professional attendants; and

    (c)whether HA will employ fewer nurses because of the above arrangement; if so, the estimated reduction in the number of nurses to be recruited?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

In reply to my question on 21 November 2001, the Administration advised that the stench from a nullah in Tin Shui Wai originated from pig farms in the district, and that it would continue with its enforcement actions against illegal discharges of pig excretion. The Administration has also promised to study my proposal to set up a livestock centre at a location far away from residential areas and relocating all the pig farms there to reduce the nuisances caused by such farms to residents nearby. As the problem of stench from the nullah has deteriorated rather than improved, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the measures that have been implemented since November 2001 to solve the above problem;

    (b)apart from regular inspections and night-time raid operations, of the specific plans and measures to address the above problem, and when the problem of stench from the nullah can be completely solved; and

    (c)of the progress of its study of my proposal?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

With the increasing number of visitors, the demand for tour coaches has been keen. On the other hand, to address concerns about the supply and operation of non-franchised buses ("NFBs"), including tour coaches, the Government invited the Transport Advisory Committee to set up a working group to review the regulation on NFB operation in late 2003. The Committee submitted a review report to the Government in July this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the authorities, in adopting a regulatory framework to resolve the problem of increasing NFBs, will consider differentiating tour coaches from other NFBs and adopting a more flexible and less stringent approach for regulating tour coaches, including streamlining the procedures and shortening the vetting time for coach operating licence applications, so as to cope with the demand arising from the surging number of visitors;

    (b)whether, in studying the findings and recommendations of the above review report, it will consider reviewing the licence fee for tour coaches as well; and

    (c)of the expected dates of the completion of the consideration of the above study and for implementating its findings?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

It has been reported that the Open University of Hong Kong had earlier on collected fish tank water samples from a total of 12 fish stalls in six markets for testing, and the results showed that the water samples taken from two live freshwater fish tanks were found to contain E. coli exceeding the standard prescribed by the law. However, at present, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department takes water samples for testing from only the marine fish tanks of market fish stalls but not their freshwater fish tanks. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether there were any cases of food poisoning in the past three years which were associated with the quality of freshwater fish tank water of market fish stalls; if so, of the total number of such cases;

    (b)of the reasons for taking only marine fish tank water samples for testing; and

    (c)whether it has plans to extend the sampling coverage to freshwater fish tank water; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*15. Hon LI Kwok-ying to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the regulation of water quality in private swimming pools, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the respective numbers of sample laboratory tests conducted by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on the water quality of private swimming pools in 2003 and so far this year, the relevant test results and the follow-up actions that have been taken; and

    (b)the frequency of such sample tests on the water quality of individual private swimming pools?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

The property management companies of some private housing estates have included the expenses on telecommunications, medical and feeder services in the management fees for collection, thereby obligating all occupiers to share the expenses of the services irrespective of whether they have used them or not. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether the relevant legislation will be amended to stipulate that, when property developers put up flats for sale, they shall state in the sales brochures the service items covered by the management fees, so as to protect the interests of consumers? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands

*17. Hon LI Fung-ying to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that 108 doctors and 80 registered nurses of the Hospital Authority ("HA") left service in June and July this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the breakdown of these healthcare workers by hospital as well as by grade and rank;

    (b)if these healthcare workers departed under the Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme; if not, of their reasons for leaving office;

    (c)if the workload and working hours of existing healthcare workers have been increased as a result of such manpower depletion; if so, of the measures to alleviate their work stress; and

    (d)if HA has any recruitment plans in the near future to fill the vacancies?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*18. Hon Miriam LAU to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the number of incidents involving leakage of liquefied petroleum gas ("LPG") from LPG taxis since their introduction;

    (b)the respective causes of such incidents; and

    (c)the measures taken by the authorities, in the light of the above causes, to prevent the recurrence of such incidents?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

It has been reported that a smart card access control system for the Central Government Offices ("CGO") installed at a cost of around three million dollars was put into trial run at the end of last month. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether office workers in CGO have been consulted before the installation of the system; if so, of the details of the consultation;

    (b)of the benefits the system will bring;

    (c)of the duties of the security guards which can be taken over by the system;

    (d)whether it has assessed if the system will hinder the evacuation of persons in CGO in the event of emergencies; if so, of the assessment results; and

    (e)whether it has reviewed the operation of the system and its effect on the flow of people; if so, of the findings of the review?
Public Officer to reply : Chief Secretary for Administration

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

It has been reported that since the "911" incident in the United States, many insurance companies have raised the insurance premium for travel agents or even excluded the provisions relating to "compensation for death of tour group members" under the "professional indemnity insurance", thereby subjecting travel agents, especially those operating outbound tours, to greater operational risks. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it will consider imposing a mandatory requirement that people joining outbound package tours should take out travel insurance so as to enhance protection for outbound travellers; if it will, of the timetable of the study concerned; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (b)how it will assist travel agents in reducing the extra operational risks arising from the exclusion of the above provisions by insurance companies?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*For written reply.

III. Statements

2004-05 Legislative Programme : Chief Secretary for Administration

IV. Bills

First Reading


1.Vocational Training Council (Amendment) Bill 2004

2.Construction Industry Council (No.2) Bill

3.Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2004

4.Companies (Amendment) Bill 2004

5.Undesirable Medical Advertisements (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2004

Second Reading (Debates to be adjourned)

1.Vocational Training Council (Amendment) Bill 2004 :Secretary for Education and Manpower

2.Construction Industry Council (No.2) Bill :Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

3.Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2004 :Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

4.Companies (Amendment) Bill 2004 :Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

5.Undesirable Medical Advertisements (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2004:Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

V. Members' Motions

  1. Proposed resolution under Article 75 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China

    Hon Miriam LAU to move the following motion:

    RESOLVED that Rule 46(2)(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region be amended by repealing "and by the Election Committee".

  2. Minimum wage, maximum working hours

    Hon CHAN Yuen-han: (Translation)

    That, as Hong Kong's sluggish economy in the past few years has rendered the working conditions of the labour force extremely deplorable and low wages and long working hours are very common among workers, with our economy picking up in recent months, this Council suggests that employers should consider adjusting the pay and benefits of their employees so as to enable them to reasonably share the economic benefits; furthermore, this Council also urges the Government to:

      (a)legislate for a minimum wage to safeguard the most basic living standard of workers, and priority should be accorded to individual low-income industries and jobs; and

      (b)prescribe the maximum number of working hours and reasonable rest breaks during working hours to ensure that employees have sufficient rest time and opportunities to pursue their studies at their leisure time.

    Amendment to Hon CHAN Yuen-han's motion
    Hon Andrew CHENG:
    (Translation)

    To add "take proactive action to seek the signing and implementation of the conventions of the International Labour Organization, legislate for regulating the number of working hours and stipulating the basis for calculating overtime allowance, and" after "(b)"; to delete "the maximum number of working hours and" after "prescribe"; and to add ", so as" after "working hours".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

  3. Facilitating the integration of people with disabilities into society

    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung: (Translation)

    That, in view of the Government's failure to give effect to the motions passed by this Council in two consecutive years on the transport needs of people with disabilities, thus depriving them of proper assistance and hindering their integration into society and, at the same time, as the Government has been reducing its spending on people with disabilities in recent years, causing them to live in hardship, this Council expresses regret and demands that the Government adopt the following measures to assist people with disabilities:

      (a)pressing public transport operators to offer half-fare concessions to people with disabilities and improve their facilities to cater for the needs of such people;

      (b)improving the Rehabus service;

      (c)taking the lead in introducing an employment quota system in government departments for people with disabilities and then extending it to the private sector; and

      (d)curtailing the implementation of the reduction of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance rates for the elderly and people with disabilities, which has come into effect since 1 October this year.

    Amendment to Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung's motion
    Hon Tommy CHEUNG:
    (Translation)

    To add "full" after "the Government's failure to give"; to delete ", thus depriving them of proper assistance and hindering their integration into society and, at the same time, as the Government has been reducing its spending on people with disabilities in recent years, causing them to live in hardship" after "people with disabilities" and substitute with "and the slow progress in implementing the passed motion"; to delete "expresses regret and" after "this Council"; to add "expeditiously" after "the Government adopt"; to delete "taking the lead in introducing an employment quota system in" after "(c)" and substitute with "encouraging"; to delete "for" after "government departments" and substitute with "to take the lead in employing more"; to delete "and then extending it to" after "people with disabilities" and substitute with "so as to set a positive example for"; to add "and, at the same time, stepping up publicity and education for employers as well as commending employers who take the lead in employing people with disabilities, with a view to creating more job opportunities for such people" after "the private sector"; to delete "curtailing the implementation of the reduction" after "(d)" and substitute with "reviewing the system" and to delete "rates for the elderly and people with disabilities, which has come into effect since 1 October this year" after "Comprehensive Social Security Assistance" and substitute with "so that those with genuine needs are provided with appropriate assistance".

    Amendment to Hon Tommy CHEUNG's amendment
    Hon Alan LEONG Kah-kit:
    (Translation)

    To delete "full" after "the Government's failure to give"; to delete "and the slow progress in implementing the passed motion" after "the transport needs of people with disabilities" and substitute with ", thus depriving them of proper assistance and hindering their integration into society and, at the same time, as the Government has been reducing its spending on people with disabilities in recent years, causing them to live in hardship"; to add "expresses regret and" after "this Council"; to delete "encouraging" after "(c)" and substitute with "taking the lead in introducing an employment quota system in"; to delete "to take the lead in employing more" after "government departments" and substitute with "for"; to delete "so as to set a positive example for" after "people with disabilities" and substitute with "and then extending it to"; to delete "and, at the same time, stepping up publicity and education for employers as well as commending employers who take the lead in employing people with disabilities, with a view to creating more job opportunities for such people" after "the private sector"; to delete "system" after "(d) reviewing the" and substitute with "reduction"; and to delete "so that those with genuine needs are provided with appropriate assistance" after "Comprehensive Social Security Assistance" and substitute with "rates for the elderly and people with disabilities, which has come into effect since 1 October this year, and ensuring that none of these people are rendered unable to maintain a basic standard of living because of the reduction".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food
Clerk to the Legislative Council