Council Meeting (Agenda) 8 December 2004


A 04/05-11

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 8 December 2004 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Land Registration Fees (Amendment) Regulation 2004193/2004
2.Tax Reserve Certificates (Rate of Interest) (No. 7) Notice 2004 194/2004
3.Construction Workers Registration (Levy) Notice195/2004
4.Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (Commencement) (No. 2) Notice 2004196/2004
5.Land Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 2002 (20 of 2002) (Commencement) Notice 2004197/2004


II. Questions

1. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

In reply to my question in February this year, the Administration advised that it had taken certain measures to monitor the practices used by debt-collection agencies in recovering debts. However, I have learnt that there is a deteriorating trend of harassment of members of the public by debt-collection agencies in recovering debts. While it has been a practice for banks, finance companies and telecommunications companies to engage debt-collection agencies to collect money owed by their customers, recently some beauty service companies and tutorial teachers have also hired such agencies, causing even more people to suffer harassment. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of cases reported to the Police since February this year about debt-collection agencies' harassment;

    (b)of the progress of the study conducted by the Law Reform Commission and the Government on legislation to regulate the activities and debt recovery practices of debt-collection agencies; and

    (c)whether it will consider stepping up law enforcement actions to curb the harassing practices of debt-collection agencies; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

2. Hon CHAN Kam-lam to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of public housing sites released by the Government to the Housing Department ("HD") and surrendered by the HD to the Government in each of the past five years; please list out the locations of the sites concerned and the numbers of units that can be produced; and

    (b)of the respective numbers of public housing sites where piling works have been and will soon be carried out, those sites whose piling tenders will be invited and those that have been incorporated into the five-year and ten-year development plans of HD, and those without development plans yet; please list out the locations and sizes of the sites concerned, the numbers of units that can be produced and the anticipated completion dates?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands

3. Hon Margaret NG to ask:


To achieve efficiency savings, two Magistrates' Courts ("MCs") were merged into one in January this year, one other will soon be closed down, and two more will be merged next year. Upon the completion of the closure/merger exercise, only six of the original nine MCs will remain. The Judiciary has undertaken to keep the waiting time to below three months for cases to be heard at an MC. In this regard, will the Administration inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the projected caseload for each of the remaining MCs upon the completion of the closure/merger exercise, and how the caseload of each MC will compare to that before such exercise;

    (b)the present waiting time for cases to be heard at an MC, and if it exceeds three months, what is being done to shorten it; and

    (c)the total amount of money which will be saved by the closure/merger exercise?
Public Officer to reply : Chief Secretary for Administration

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

Trade unions and I have received many complaints alleging that some contractors of government building and construction projects have defaulted on payment of wages to their workers. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total number of cases handled by the authorities in the past three years involving allegations of default in payment of wages to construction workers, as well as the number of persons affected and the amount of defaulted wages involved and, among such cases, of the number of those involving government building and construction projects, as well as the number of workers and the amount of wages involved in these cases;

    (b)of the total number of contractors of government building and construction projects penalized for default in payment of wages to their workers in the past three years, together with a breakdown by the penalty imposed; and

    (c)whether it has any plan to eradicate non-payment of wages to workers in government building and construction projects, and to increase the penalties for contractors who default on payment of wages to their workers; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

5. Hon Bernard CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that the People's Bank of China will implement on 1 December this year the Provisional Measures for Management of Transfer, Sales and Payment of Foreign Exchange of Personal Assets, which allow persons in the Mainland emigrating overseas or moving to Hong Kong or Macau to realize their lawful assets in the Mainland which they owned before obtaining their migrant status, to purchase foreign currencies and to remit them out of the Mainland. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has assessed the impact of the Measures on Hong Kong, particularly on the investment immigrant scheme which has been launched recently;

    (b)of the corresponding measures it will take to enable Hong Kong to benefit from such Measures; and

    (c)whether it will liaise with the relevant departments in the Mainland to understand these Measures in order to conduct a detailed review of the related existing policy of Hong Kong?
Public Officers to reply:Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury
Secretary for Security

6. Hon Ronny TONG Ka-wah to ask:(Translation)

The Government tightened the eligibility requirement for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA") on 1 January this year, with the period of residence in Hong Kong required of adult CSSA applicants increased from one year to seven years. I know a widow who came to settle in Hong Kong not long ago. She cannot go out to work to earn a living as she has to stay home to take care of her young son, and is not eligible for CSSA as she does not meet the seven-year residence requirement. As a result, she and her son have to live on the latter's monthly CSSA payment of some $1,900. The widow has asked the Social Welfare Department ("SWD") for discretionary approval of her application for CSSA, but her request was turned down on grounds that she had received donations of about $10,000 from some warm-hearted people. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)among the current CSSA cases of single parent families, of the number of cases in which the single father/mother has been denied CSSA due to his/her failure to meet the residence requirement;

    (b)of the number of relevant CSSA applications rejected by SWD since the implementation of the new residence requirement early this year; the criteria and procedure adopted by SWD in granting discretionary approval to CSSA applicants who do not meet the residence requirement, and among such criteria, the restrictions on acceptance of donations; and

    (c)given that the new residence requirement has been implemented for almost a year, whether the Government will review that requirement, in particular its impact on families who are ineligible for CSSA?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*7. Hon Martin LEE to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the energy conservation measures and lighting installations in various government departments and public organizations, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the measures, in addition to using energy-saving lighting installations, adopted by various government departments and public organizations to conserve energy, and whether it has assessed the effectiveness of such measures; if it has, of the assessment results, if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)whether various government departments and public organizations have fully switched to the use of the above installations; if not, the reasons for that, and the departments and organizations involved;

    (c)whether it has worked out the costs incurred by the government departments and public organizations in switching to the use of such installations, their annual savings in energy expenditures and respective cost recovery periods; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)whether any government departments and public organizations still have non-energy-saving lighting installations in stock or outstanding procurement contracts with suppliers of such installations?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

At present the nursing manpower resources in Hong Kong are seriously imbalanced. According to the information provided by the Government, the turnover figure of nursing staff in the Hospital Authority ("HA") in the year 2003-04 was 862, representing a major upsurge of about 2.5 times over that of 2002-03. However, the number of nursing graduates in 2003-04 was around 340 only. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows the up-to-date 'nurse to patient ratios' in the general consultation, various specialist consultation and psychiatric units of public hospitals;

    (b)of the details of the nursing manpower resource plans of the authorities concerned for the coming five years;

    (c)of the number of places of subsidized degree course in nursing planned to be offered in the coming five years; and

    (d)whether concrete measures have been drawn up to reduce the turnover rate of nursing staff in HA?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*9. Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of the following in respect of the 2002-03 school year and the two succeeding school years:
    (a)the respective reduction of primary and secondary classes due to an insufficient student intake each year, and the respective amounts of public money thus saved each year; and

    (b)the respective numbers of primary and secondary schools which ceased operation due to an insufficient student intake each year, and the respective amounts of public money thus saved each year?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

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

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the gross premium, net premium, the amount of claims and the number of employees covered under the insurance taken out by employers as required by section 40 of the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) in each of the past five years; and

    (b)given that the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour has advised that Labour Department ("LD") officers visited Australia, Canada and the United States to collect information about the implementation of the centralized employees' compensation systems there, whether LD has made a written report on the information collected; if it has, of the details of the report?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*11. Dr Hon KWOK Ka-ki to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that in the report of the panel which investigated an incompatible blood transfusion incident at Prince of Wales Hospital ("PWH"), published by the Hospital Authority ("HA") on 6 October this year, an intern who had taken up his post in PWH for less than three months was held responsible for the incident. Nevertheless, the report did not concurrently examine the problems faced by interns, especially those relating to their training, supervision and workload. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it is aware if HA has assessed whether other experienced staff, the departments and the people in charge of the hospital concerned should also be held responsible for the incident, and whether there are any inadequacies; if HA has, of the assessment results;

    (b)whether HA and the Government departments concerned have measures to tackle immediately the difficulties currently faced by interns after the occurrence of the incompatible blood transfusion incident, and whether they will put forward proposals to improve the situation; if they will, of the details; and

    (c)whether HA and the Government departments concerned will work out the training objectives, methods of assessment, a supervision system and the appropriate workload for interns; if they will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*12. Hon CHEUNG Hok-ming to ask:
(Translation)

With the commencement of the legislation concerning seat belts on public light buses ("PLBs") on 1 August this year, rear seats of newly registered PLBs are required to be fitted with seat belts and passengers of PLBs must wear the seat belts. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the position in the implementation of the above legislation, and whether it has encountered any difficulties in enforcing the legislation; and

    (b)whether it has assessed if, upon the implementation of the above legislation, the statistics on passenger casualties in traffic accidents involving PLBs indicate that the use of seat belts is effective in protecting passengers against injuries or reducing the severity of injuries sustained in traffic accidents; if the assessment result is in the affirmative, whether it will consider adopting measures to expedite the introduction of seat belts for PLBs?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

*13. Hon TSANG Yok-sing to ask:
(Translation)

Concerning the work of the Manpower Development Committee ("MDC"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of meetings held by MDC and the total meeting hours since its establishment in October 2002;

    (b)of the topics discussed by MDC and the policies it has proposed for the Government's implementation as well as the specific contents of these proposals; and

    (c)whether it will increase the transparency of the MDC's work, including reporting to this Council regularly?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

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

It has been reported that some days ago the Hospital Authority ("HA") conducted a medical examination which included tests on lung function and bones for recovered Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ("SARS") patients in order to decide whether they could continue to receive subsidy from the SARS Trust Fund. On the other hand, some recovered SARS patients held that they were not arranged to receive such medical examination service as a result of their failure in their applications for the Fund. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the frequency of medical examinations for recovered SARS patients conducted by HA, and whether such examinations were only targeted at functional capacities or physical constitutions in which problems have been inflicted as a result of SARS treatments;

    (b)if such medical examinations were only provided for recovered SARS patients whose applications for the SARS Trust Fund had been approved; if so, whether HA will consider providing such service for recovered SARS patients who have failed in their applications for the Fund; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)if HA will consider establishing a mechanism to conduct regular medical assessments for all recovered SARS patients in order to facilitate the review of the impact and effectiveness of the relevant treatments and medications on patients?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

*15. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


It has been reported that since 1997, the application procedure for road excavation permits ("EPs") has become increasingly complex and lengthy. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the average time required for processing an EP application in each year from 1997 to 2004;

    (b)the number of forms that an applicant for EP needed to submit each year from 1997 to 2004, and the justifications for introducing any additional forms; and

    (c)the measures it will take to streamline the application process?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

Regarding public policy researches and industry development researches on individual industries, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of such researches conducted in the past three years; the number of those related to information technology ("IT") and telecommunications industries; and the titles, scopes, responsible departments and expenses of such researches conducted in each of past three years, as well as the criteria adopted for selecting the themes and determining the priority of the researches;

    (b)of the measures to encourage IT and telecommunications personnel to take part in public policy researches or industry development researches conducted by the Government in these fields, with a view to facilitating the Government in formulating policies which can better support the development of the industries from macroscopic and long-term perspectives; and

    (c)whether it will consider setting up an assistance scheme to encourage associations of the IT and telecommunications industries to conduct public policy researches or industry development researches on their respective sectors; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology

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

Regarding the membership of and meeting arrangements for statutory and advisory bodies, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the present percentage of members with political affiliations in the membership of some 500 statutory and advisory bodies, together with a breakdown by percentage of these members by their political affiliations;

    (b)of the number of statutory and advisory bodies which hold their meetings in public and upload their meeting agenda and minutes onto the Internet; and

    (c)whether it plans to appoint more members of political parties or groups as well as persons in the middle class to statutory and advisory bodies?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*18. Hon Frederick FUNG to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of the number of public rental housing ("PRH") households which are recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA") payments and their percentage in the total number of PRH households, together with a breakdown of such households in each PRH estate by the CSSA category they belong? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number and details of the complaints received so far this year against medical practitioners for providing false information about their qualifications and professional practice experience, and how the number compares to the corresponding figures in the previous two years;

    (b)of the number of such complaints it investigated in the past three years and the investigation results;

    (c)of the mechanism to ensure that medical practitioners provide the public with information which is law compliant, true and not exaggerated; and

    (d)whether it will discuss with the Medical Council of Hong Kong the possibility of revising the Code of Practice for Doctors to expressly provide that medical practitioners must provide the public with information which is law compliant, true and not exaggerated, so as to safeguard the interests of the public?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

There are several sets of traffic lights at the road junctions of Hing Fat Street with Victoria Park Road, Wing Hing Street and Gordon Road in Causeway Bay. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the number of cases in which drivers were prosecuted for red light jumping at the above road junctions over the past 12 months, with a breakdown by traffic lanes, travelling directions and the traffic lights involved? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

*For written reply.

III. Members' Motions

  1. Medical reform

    Dr Hon KWOK Ka-ki: (Translation)

    That, as the medical services in Hong Kong are now facing a big challenge in which the public medical organizations have to cope with unlimited demands with limited resources, and as the deficit of the Hospital Authority ("HA") is increasing year by year with hundreds of young doctors leaving the HA every year to go into private practice, yet there is not sufficient room for the healthy development of the private medical services, this Council urges the Government to:

      (a)expeditiously formulate a long-term medical policy that allows for sustainable development, and draw up a timetable for the implementation of the policy so that the difficulties currently faced by the medical services in Hong Kong can be overcome;

      (b)implement a target-subsidy approach whereby priorities for the provision of public medical services are set according to the importance and needs of the services;

      (c)establish an advisory framework that comprises front-line health care workers and incorporates broad representation to review the existing policies and assist in formulating future policy directions;

      (d)set up a training fund to provide proper specialist training for young doctors so as to nurture a sufficient number of qualified specialists and avoid any succession gap in medical professionals;

      (e)enhance the training on family medicine, provide training opportunities to existing family doctors and all young doctors engaging in family medicine practice, and assist them in acquiring specialist qualifications;

      (f)address the prevailing serious imbalance in the public and private medical services; and

      (g)study and implement options for financing health care.

    Amendments to Dr Hon KWOK Ka-ki's motion
    (i)Dr Hon Joseph LEE Kok-long: (Translation)

    To add "and health" after "That, as the medical"; to delete "('HA')" after "the Hospital Authority"; to delete "with hundreds of young doctors leaving the HA every year to go into private practice, yet" after "year by year" and substitute with "whilst"; to add "and health" after "development of the private medical"; to delete "medical" after "a long-term" and substitute with "health"; to add "and health" after "faced by the medical"; to delete "(b) implement a target-subsidy approach whereby priorities for the provision of public medical services are set according to the importance and needs of the services;"; to delete the original "(c)" and substitute with "(b)"; to delete the original "(d)" and substitute with "(c)"; to delete "specialist" after "to provide proper"; to delete "young doctors" after "training for" and substitute with "the new generation of health care personnel"; to delete "nurture a sufficient number of qualified specialists" after "so as to" and substitute with "tie in with the needs for clinical specialization in medical and health services"; to delete "medical" after "succession gap in" and substitute with "health care"; to delete the original "(e)" and substitute with "(d)"; to delete ", provide training opportunities to existing family doctors and all young doctors engaging in family medicine practice, and assist them in acquiring specialist qualifications" after "enhance the training on family medicine" and substitute with "and community health service so that health care professionals can effectively promote community health and public health"; to delete the original "(f)" and substitute with "(e)"; to add "and health" after "in the public and private medical"; and to delete the original "(g)" and substitute with "(f)".

    (ii)Hon LI Kwok-ying: (Translation)

    To add "that" after "this Council urges"; to delete "to" after "the Government" and substitute with "should, on the premise of adopting a people-oriented approach and refraining from increasing the health care burden on grass-roots people"; to add "(b) strengthen the efforts in the prevention of diseases and primary health care with a view to reducing the demand for in-patient services;" after "can be overcome;"; to delete the original "(b)" and substitute with "(c)"; to delete the original "(c)" and substitute with "(d)"; to delete the original "(d)" and substitute with "(e)"; to delete the original "(e)" and substitute with "(f)"; to delete the original "(f)" and substitute with "(g)"; to delete "and" after "the public and private medical services;"; to delete the original "(g)" and substitute with "(h)"; and to add "; and (i) incorporate Chinese medicine services into the scope of health care services planning" after "financing health care".

    (iii)Hon Andrew CHENG: (Translation)

    To add "representatives of patients' organizations as well as" after "front-line health care workers and"; to delete "and" after "the public and private medical services;" and substitute with "(g) enhance primary health efforts, including strengthening the prevention of and scientific research on infectious diseases to prevent any outbreak of epidemics in Hong Kong; and"; and to delete the original "(g)" and substitute with "(h)".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

  2. Reviewing the basis for charging the trade effluent surcharge and its appeal mechanism
    Hon Tommy CHEUNG: (Translation)

    That this Council urges the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau to expeditiously conduct a comprehensive review of the basis for charging the trade effluent surcharge and its appeal mechanism with a view to ensuring that the charging scheme is fair and reasonable, thereby alleviating the heavy burden on the catering industry; furthermore, the Government should also assist the catering industry in introducing new and high technologies so as to further conserve water and reduce the discharge of effluent.

    Amendment to Hon Tommy CHEUNG's motion
    Hon Martin LEE:
    (Translation)

    To delete "thereby alleviating the heavy burden on the catering industry" after "fair and reasonable," and substitute with "and that the polluter pays principle is put into effect"; to delete "catering industry in introducing" after "should also assist the" and substitute with "affected persons and businesses in adopting various means including"; and to delete "so as" after "technologies".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works
Clerk to the Legislative Council