Council Meeting (Agenda) 22 November 2006


A 06/07-8

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 22 November 2006 at 11:00 am

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Fugitive Offenders (Germany) Order251/2006
2.Fugitive Offenders (Republic of Korea) Order252/2006
3.Antiquities and Monuments (Declaration of Historical Building) Notice 2006253/2006
4.Banking (Specification of Multilateral Development Bank) (Amendment) Notice 2006254/2006
5.Import and Export (General) Regulations (Amendment of Seventh Schedule) (Bangladesh) Notice 2006255/2006
6.Market to which the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance applies Declaration 2006256/2006

II. Questions

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

Regarding the supply and demand of student hostel places at various universities, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows the current situation regarding the supply and demand of student hostels at various universities; if there is a shortfall, of the short-term relief measures the Government will take;

    (b)of the projects for construction of university student hostels, which have already been allocated funds for implementation or are under planning at present; and the anticipated supply and demand of student hostel places at various universities upon completion of such hostels; and

    (c)whether it knows if universities have encountered any difficulties in identifying suitable sites for construction of student hostels; if there are difficulties, how the Government assists universities in terms of land planning and coordination among the government departments concerned, etc?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

2. Hon Daniel LAM Wai-keung to ask:
(Translation)

Under the new nature conservation policy announced in 2004, the Government has launched two pilot schemes, namely management agreements ("MA") and public-private partnership ("PPP"). The entire sum of $5 million earmarked for the pilot scheme on MA has so far been allocated to provide funding for three projects. As for the pilot scheme on PPP, while six applications have been received, none of the applications has been approved so far. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that the organizations which have received funding to implement the above three projects need to bear the conservation costs two years after the commencement of the projects, whether the authorities have assessed in different phases the progress and effectiveness of the measures adopted by these organizations to raise funds for the projects; if so, of the assessment criteria and the assessment results in different phases; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)of the reasons why none of the applications submitted under the pilot scheme on PPP has been approved so far, as well as the current progress in processing the six applications; and

    (c)whether it has considered setting up a nature conservation fund for Hong Kong, so as to solve the financial problems relating to the implementation of the new nature conservation policy and sustain its implementation; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

Statistics from the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau have shown a rising trend in the number of adolescent drug abusers under the age of 21, which was 1 451 for the first half of this year and 1 396 for the same period last year, representing an increase of 3.9%. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the details of the authorities' policies on prevention of drug abuse by adolescents, and whether it has reviewed such policies as the problem has deteriorated in recent years;

    (b)the attendances at the Substance Abuse Clinics in public hospitals by adolescents over the past three years (with a breakdown by age groups), the recovery rates and the unit costs of treatment; whether the Government knows of the criteria adopted by the Hospital Authority ("HA") for measuring the efficacy of the services provided and if HA plans to extend such services; and

    (c)whether it will adopt a community-based approach by engaging professional teams such as community nurses to explain to adolescents the evils of drug abuse; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

4. Hon Martin LEE to ask:
(Translation)

It was reported that there was an oil leakage at the Castle Peak Power Station of CLP Power Hong Kong Limited ("CLP") in 2004, and the waters in the vicinity might have been contaminated. However, at that time CLP had only notified the relevant government departments of the incident without making it public. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the government departments responsible for handling oil leakages from power plants and monitoring the operation of power plants to prevent oil leakages;

    (b)why the relevant government departments had not informed the public of the oil leakage incident after receiving the report from CLP; whether power companies are required to make a public announcement in the event of an oil leakage; if so, of the details of the announcement mechanism; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)of the present water quality in the waters affected by the oil leakage, and whether there are signs of contamination?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

Since 1 April 1998, the Government has, in calculating the annual investment income payable by the Exchange Fund ("EF") to the Government in respect of the fiscal reserves placed with EF, adopted the same rate of return as that achieved by the entire EF. Therefore, the investment income for the Government fluctuates with the performance of EF. On 13 September this year, the Government advised that: if we use the accumulated surplus of EF lightly, the ability of EF to resist attacks on the exchange rate of the Hong Kong dollar may be undermined. On the other hand, the International Monetary Fund ("IMF") mission to Hong Kong maintained its support for the Administration's commitment to the Linked Exchange Rate System in its statement of conclusions published at the end of last month. The mission, however, also pointed out that the Government should explore ways to stabilize investment income through arrangements with EF. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it has assessed if altering the method for calculating the investment income from the fiscal reserves will affect the ability of EF to resist attacks on the exchange rate of the Hong Kong dollar; if the assessment result is in the affirmative, of the rationale for that;

    (b)it knows IMF's reasons for making the said recommendation; and

    (c)it will accept IMF's recommendation on stabilizing investment income, such as drawing a fixed amount of money each year from the overall investment income of EF as government revenue; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Financial Secretary

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

In the evening of the 7th of this month, four youngsters were assaulted with weapons and wounded by more than 30 youngsters. Regarding juvenile crimes and the problem of youth gangs, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the total number of crimes involving youth gangs in the past two years and, among them, the number of those resulting in casualties, broken down by age groups of the youngsters involved and districts of occurrence;

    (b)of the procedure for and details of the handling of cases of youth gang delinquency by government departments, the co-operation and division of responsibilities among the Police, the Social Welfare Department and schools in this respect, and whether it has reviewed the effectiveness of their work; and

    (c)whether it has assessed if the problem of youth gangs has been worsening in recent years, and if the problem is found to be worsening, of the reasons for that, and whether it has reviewed the measures taken to prevent juvenile crime to see if there is any inadequacy, including whether police officers frequently patrol those places at which youngsters assemble?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

It has recently been suggested that the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong ("TICHK") be dissolved and replaced by a statutory body for more effective regulation of the travel industry. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the industries the conduct within which is currently monitored only by the trade associations concerned and those whose monitoring work is undertaken by statutory bodies; and how these two modes of monitoring compare to the current practice of TICHK? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

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

To prepare for the Chief Executive ("CE") election, the Government will hold the Election Committee ("EC") subsector elections later on. During the election period, the Lands Department ("LandsD") requires all Legislative Council ("LegCo") Members and District Council ("DC") members to remove at their own expenses their roadside publicity materials ("PMs") at the spots approved by LandsD and put them back after the election. According to past experience, the costs for hiring workers to remove PMs and put them back are about 40 dollars for each spot. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current total number of spots approved by LandsD for LegCo Members and DC members to display their PMs;

    (b)whether it has calculated the costs to be borne by LegCo Members/DC members for removing and putting back all of their PMs; if it has, of the costs;

    (c)whether it will consider putting up the PMs of the EC subsector elections on top of the PMs of LegCo Members/DC members which are on display at present, instead of requiring them to remove all of their existing PMs; if not, of the reasons for that;

    (d)whether it will consider requiring LegCo Members/DC members to remove their PMs only at those spots which are needed for the EC subsector elections and allowing them to keep their PMs at other spots; if not, of the reasons for that;

    (e)of the number of those spots for which approval had been granted but were also revoked temporarily during last year's CE by-election, and the respective numbers of the spots which were used and those which were not used for displaying the PMs of the CE by-election; and

    (f)whether approval for designated spots will again be revoked temporarily during the CE election to be held in March next year; if so, of the details of the arrangements?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

*9. Hon TAM Heung-man to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the communication channels between Members returned by Legislative Council ("LegCo") functional constituencies ("FC") and their electors, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)as a subsidiary legislation of the Electoral Affairs Commission Ordinance stipulates that no person is allowed to use any information relating to a person contained in a register or an extract from such a register for any purpose unrelated to an election, whether it will consider amending the subsidiary legislation concerned to allow LegCo FC Members to use such information while they are in office for communication with their electors (such as sending newsletters on their work in the legislature);

    (b)given that there is a professional body which refuses to send, on behalf of a Legco Member returned by the FC to which the body belongs, newsletters to its members for the reason that such an act, without the prescribed consent of the data subject to use his personal data for this purpose, might contravene a data protection principle under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, whether it knows if the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data will issue guidelines or formulate other measures to facilitate LegCo FC Members to communicate with their electors; and

    (c)whether it will formulate measures to facilitate the communication between LegCo FC Members and their electors; if it will, of the details of such measures; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

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

Section 24 of the Money Lenders Ordinance ("the Ordinance") (Cap. 163) provides that any person who lends money at an effective rate of interest which exceeds 60% per annum commits an offence. Section 25 of the Ordinance also provides that if the effective rate of interest on a loan exceeds 48% per annum, having regard to that fact alone, the transaction concerned shall be presumed to be extortionate. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of prosecutions instituted in respect of cases in which the rates of interest on loans exceeded 60% per annum, and the number of litigations concerning cases in which the rates of interest on loans exceeded 48% per annum, in each of the past five years;

    (b)of the rationale for setting the caps on loan interest rates for regulation purposes in the above provisions at 60% and 48% per annum respectively; whether it has regularly reviewed if the caps are in keeping with Hong Kong's economic, cultural and social situations, their effectiveness in combating illegal loan-sharking activities and their impact on the legal lending market; if so, of the outcome of such reviews; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it has studied, with reference to overseas legislation, if the above caps on loan interest rates should be adjusted; if so, of the findings of the study and the relevant justifications; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

*11. Hon LEUNG Kwok-hung to ask:
(Translation)

Upon coming into full operation, the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (Cap. 583) prohibits any unregistered construction workers from personally carrying out construction work on construction sites. As such, the Construction Workers Registration Authority is currently processing the registration of construction workers. In addition, persons operating certain types of machines on construction sites must be holders of valid certificates issued by the relevant authorized authorities. I have received complaints from workers that the procedures for registration as construction workers and those for the re-validation tests for machine operators are both quite complicated. For example, workers are required to produce proof of work experience signed and issued by their employers, and the arrangements for the refresher courses and written tests for re-validation tests lack flexibility. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of registered workers in each trade, broken down by years of experience, and the estimated number of workers who have yet to be registered in each trade;

    (b)of the numbers of complaints received by the authorities about the complicated procedures for re-validation tests in the past three years, and the number of machine operators prosecuted for failing to produce or not possessing the relevant certificates; and

    (c)whether the authorities will consider streamlining the procedures for registration of construction workers and the re-validation tests, improving the arrangements for the relevant courses and written tests, as well as reducing the charges involved; if they will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

It has been reported that the owners of a factory building have illegally converted the rooftop of the building into suites for rent. The authority concerned has issued warning notices to the owners and registered charges against the properties with the Land Registry. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has followed up the progress of the removal of the rooftop tenants concerned; if so, of the latest situation, and the assistance offered to them; and

    (b)whether it has immediately conducted investigations to see if other factory buildings have similar illegal conversion problems; if it has not conducted such investigations, of the reasons for that, and whether insufficient manpower is one of the reasons; if it has conducted such investigations, the result of the investigations and whether it has required the owners concerned to remove the illegal conversions in accordance with the relevant legislation; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands

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

It has been reported that some reporters have found out that at various bus stops in different parts of the territory, one of every two buses departing from the bus stop emits black smoke. It has also been reported that to enable their buses to pass the annual inspection by the Transport Department, bus companies will replace the old mufflers with new ones, but the old mufflers will be used again after the buses have passed the inspection. The problem of black smoke emission, therefore, has not improved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of Pre-Euro and Euro I buses currently owned by various franchised bus companies, the respective percentages of such buses among all the buses of these companies, and the respective percentages of suspended particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions from such buses among the total emissions from buses of these companies;

    (b)of the number of complaints about the emission of black smoke from buses of the above-mentioned companies received in each of the past three years, the results of the follow-up actions taken by the authorities, the number of complaints which were substantiated and the penalty usually imposed;

    (c)whether it has carried out investigations into the emission of black smoke from buses and the practice of bus companies replacing new mufflers with old ones after the buses have passed the inspections; if it has, of the investigation results; if not, the reasons for that;

    (d)whether it will consider adopting measures such as prosecutions, fines and revocation of licence for effective control of emissions from buses; and

    (e)whether it will consider prohibiting Pre-Euro buses from running on the roads; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

Regarding the provision of baby-sitting and breast-feeding rooms in public places, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)in respect of each type of public facilities, such as government buildings, parks, leisure and recreational facilities, of the number and percentage of such facilities in which dedicated rooms for baby-sitting and breast-feeding are provided at present; and whether it has assessed if these rooms are adequate;

    (b)other than the maternal and child health centres of the Department of Health, whether it plans to provide baby-sitting and breast-feeding rooms in all suitable government premises; if so, of the details of such plan; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it plans to draw up guidelines or amend legislation to require the provision of adequate and proper baby-sitting and breast-feeding rooms in large shopping arcades; if so, of the details of such plan; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food

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

It has been reported that a rare and fatal truck blaze took place on Tolo Highway in October this year. It was suspected that the incident might have involved the driver storing smuggled petrol in the cabin. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has investigated the situation of cross-border truck drivers storing smuggled petrol in the cabin; if it has, of the outcome of the investigation and relevant statistics; whether such act is in breach of the laws of Hong Kong; if so, of the number of prosecutions in the past five years; and

    (b)whether it has studied the feasibility of setting up duty-free petrol filling stations at border crossing points, including the anticipated difficulties and costs to be incurred; if it has, of the findings of the study; if it has not, whether it will conduct such study and consider setting up duty-free petrol filling stations at border crossing points, so as to curb the situation of cross-border truck drivers storing smuggled petrol?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

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

It has been learnt that the majority of trees presently planted in country parks belong to non-native species. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of native trees and non-native trees planted in country parks in each of the past three years; and

    (b)whether it plans to plant more native trees in country parks in the next five years; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

Currently, many of the entrances/exits of Mass Transit Railway ("MTR") stations which are on the ground level are connected with the next lower level or the station concourse by staircases only. As there are no escalators leading directly to ground level, elderly people and frail persons are much inconvenienced when they use these entrances/exits. Concerning the entrances/exits on the ground level, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it knows:

    (i)why the MTR Corporation Limited ("MTRCL") did not install escalators leading directly to each of the entrances/exits when it constructed its stations;

    (ii)the entrances/exits without escalators leading directly to them (please list out the MTR stations where they are located and their identification numbers), the number of such entrances/exits and its percentage in the total number of entrances/exits;

    (iii)if the entrances/exits which were completed in recent years all have escalators leading directly to them; and

    (iv)the number of requests received in the past five years by MTRCL for retrofitting escalators leading directly to certain entrances/exits; and

    (b)it has requested MTRCL to review the above-mentioned situation and consider retrofitting escalators leading directly to all entrances/exits (except those where the installation of escalators is not feasible due to technical problems such as insufficient space available); if so, of the response from MTRCL, including whether MTRCL has come up with details of and timetable for installation plans; if MTRCL has rejected the request, its justifications for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works

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

The Government is currently holding discussions with the tourism sector on how to raise the service standard of local travel agents in receiving tour groups from the Mainland, and on how to enhance communication among various parties within the sector. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it plans to:
    (a)request the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong ("TICHK") or the Consumer Council to publish the names of those travel agents which have seriously violated the rules, thereby strengthening the protection of consumers' rights and interests; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)appoint representatives from unions of tour guides to the TICHK's Board of Directors, so that the views of tour guides can be reflected; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)set up a quadripartite working group (comprising representatives from the Government, unions of tour guides, travel agents and the TICHK) to jointly work out measures to facilitate the healthy development of the tourism industry; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*19. Hon Emily LAU to ask:
(Translation)

In July this year, the Customs and Excise ("C&E") Department launched the Youth Ambassador Against Internet Piracy Scheme, with an objective of mobilizing the 200 000 members of youth uniformed organizations to serve as the web police and report to the C&E Department information on suspected copyright-infringing seed files on the Internet. It has been reported that, in order to encourage its members to make reports proactively, a uniformed organization offers a music player to any youngster who has made the target number of reports. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of reports received so far through the Scheme, and the number of those which have been substantiated;

    (b)whether they have set up a mechanism to ensure that the Scheme is not abused by youngsters; if so, of the details of the mechanism;

    (c)whether they have assessed the effectiveness of awards in encouraging reports, and if the practice of offering awards to youngsters who have made reports of others is conductive to their developing positive values; and

    (d)whether they know the countries and cities with similar schemes; if so, of the details of such schemes?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology

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

It has been reported that the number of mesothelioma cases has been on the rise in recent years. Mesothelioma is caused mainly by prolonged exposure to asbestos at work and its treatment entails huge medical expenses. However, mesothelioma is not categorized as an occupational disease under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282). The patients therefore cannot obtain any compensation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the present number of local workers who have contracted mesothelioma;

    (b)given that the Mainland and some other countries have already included mesothelioma as a compensable occupational disease and that the pamphlet "Health Hazards of Asbestos" issued by the Labour Department also states that workers may contract mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos fibres, whether it will consider classifying mesothelioma as an occupational disease under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance so that patients may make claims against their employers; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it will consider including contracting mesothelioma as one of the compensable items under the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 360); if it will, when the relevant legislation will be amended; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Economic Development and Labour

*For written reply.

III. Members' Motions

  1. Leisure, gaming and entertainment complex

    Hon James TIEN: (Translation)

    That this Council urges the Government to actively study the feasibility of establishing a leisure, gaming and entertainment complex on Lantau, and to conduct extensive consultation in this regard.

    Amendment to motion
    Hon Alan LEONG Kah-kit:
    (Translation)

    To delete "to actively study" after "urges the Government" and substitute with ", before studying"; to delete "and to conduct extensive" after "entertainment complex on Lantau," and substitute with "to first look into the following three issues and conduct community-wide"; to delete "in this regard" after "consultation"; and to add ": (a) whether Hong Kong should maintain the existing policy of not encouraging gaming; (b) the cost-effectiveness of establishing a gaming and entertainment venue, as well as its impact on residents and environmental conservation; and (c) whether there is a need and any suitable location for a gaming and entertainment venue in Hong Kong" immediately before the full stop.

    Amendment to Hon Alan LEONG Kah-kit's amendment
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW:
    (Translation)

    To delete "three" after "look into the following"; to delete "and" after "environmental conservation"; and to add "; (d) the public revenue generated for Hong Kong, the number of job opportunities created, the benefits to the local economy and how far Hong Kong's competitiveness can be enhanced by establishing a leisure, gaming and entertainment complex; and (e) convention and exhibition facilities should be provided in the leisure, gaming and entertainment complex to meet future demands" immediately before the full stop.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Home Affairs

  2. Electing the Chief Executive by universal suffrage
    Hon Ronny TONG Ka-wah: (Translation)

    That this Council considers the year 2012 appropriate for electing the Chief Executive by universal suffrage.

    Amendment to motion
    Hon Howard YOUNG:
    (Translation)

    To delete "the year 2012 appropriate for electing the Chief Executive by universal suffrage" after "That this Council considers" and substitute with "that, should the pertinent conditions be ripe, meaning that there is a nominating committee which is broadly representative and acceptable to both the Central Government and Hong Kong, and the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature has been rationalized and is harmonious, this Council hopes that the election of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage will be held in 2012".

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

Clerk to the Legislative Council