Council Meeting (Agenda) 30 April 2008


A 07/08-25

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 30 April 2008 at 11:00 am

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / InstrumentsL.N. No.
1.Clubs (Safety of Premises) (Exclusion) (Amendment: Club-Houses in Government Premises) Order 200891/2008
2.Securities and Futures (Financial Resources) (Amendment) Rules 200892/2008
3.Fugitive Offenders (Australia) (Amendment) Order 2007 (Commencement) Notice93/2008
4.Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution) Regulation (Commencement) Notice94/2008
5.Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulation 2007 (Commencement) Notice95/2008

Other Papers

1.No.90-Audited Statement of Accounts together with the Director of Audit's Report of the Language Fund for the year ended 31 August 2007
(to be presented by Secretary for Education)

2.No.91-Supplemental Report of the Public Accounts Committee on Report No. 49 of the Director of Audit on the Results of Value for Money Audits
(April 2008 - P.A.C. Report No. 49A)
(to be presented by Dr Hon Philip WONG, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, who will address the Council)

3.Report of the Bills Committee on Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2007
(to be presented by Hon Margaret NG, Chairman of the Bills Committee)

4.Report of the Bills Committee on Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Bill
(to be presented by Hon Audrey EU, Chairman of the Bills Committee)

II. Questions

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

In the current financial year, the Government will provide additional one month's standard rate Comprehensive Social Security Assistance ("CSSA") payments for CSSA recipients and a one-off grant of $3,000 for each Old Age Allowance ("OAA") recipient. However, the media discovered that some private residential care homes for the elderly ("RCHEs") had free access to the bank deposits of some of their elderly residents because they paid the home fees with their CSSA payments. Some of these RCHEs had, without those elderly persons' authorization, deducted the additional month's CSSA payments, which were provided to them by the Government last year, for paying home fees. Such elderly persons were therefore unable to enjoy the Government's payouts. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)regarding the above incidents of unauthorized deduction of elderly persons' CSSA payments by RCHEs, whether the Social Welfare Department has taken any action, such as penalizing the RCHEs concerned and demanding them to return the CSSA payments concerned to the elderly persons;

    (b)focusing on the above problem, whether the Government will consider amending the Code of Practice for Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons), such as stipulating that if the elderly persons pay the home fees with their CSSA payments, the RCHEs concerned can only collect one month's CSSA payments from them as home fees each month, in order to protect the elderly persons concerned; and

    (c)of the measures and ways the authorities have in place to ensure that the additional CSSA payments and OAA provided in the current year to the elderly persons concerned will not be wrongfully deducted by RCHEs?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

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

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows the number of claims filed by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority ("MPFSA") to the Small Claims Tribunal and various levels of courts in each of the past three years to recover from employers Mandatory Provident Fund ("MPF") contributions in arrears, as well as the amounts involved;

    (b)whether it knows among the above cases, the number of those in which the claims were allowed but the employers concerned had failed to settle the arrears in accordance with the court judgments and the amounts involved, and the number of those in which the arrears had successfully been recovered eventually and the amounts involved, broken down by the various means of execution of judgments (including charging orders against premises, garnishee orders, writs of fieri facias and winding up, etc.); and the administrative costs incurred by MPFSA in dealing with such cases each year, as well as the grades and number of staff involved; and

    (c)of the new measures the authorities have in place to further improve the situation of defaulted payment of MPF contributions?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

3. Hon Howard YOUNG to ask:


It has been reported that during the Easter holidays this year, the daily flight movements at the Hong Kong International Airport reached a record of 906 and 945 on 20 and 21 March respectively, which far exceeded the daily average of 810 movements. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the extra resources (including manpower) allocated by the authorities to handle the extra flight movements during the above long holidays;

    (b)whether the authorities will consider maintaining the above high record of daily flight movements on an ongoing basis, instead of following the plan announced in May 2007 to increase the runway capacity gradually to 58 movements per hour by 2009 and then to 68 movements per hour by 2015; if they will, of the details of their plan to maintain the record; if they will not, the relevant constraints; and

    (c) given that in the discussion paper for the meeting of the Council's Panel on Economic Development on 17 March 2008, the authorities have indicated that they are working out the required additional manpower resources to implement the recommendations of the consultancy study on Hong Kong airspace and runway capacity on further enhancing the runway capacity, what considerations the authorities will take into account in working out the manpower requirements, and when a detailed proposal will be submitted to the relevant committees of the Council for consideration?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

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

It is noted that since its commissioning in April last year, the dog park at the Wan Chai waterfront has been very popular among dog owners within and outside the district. On the other hand, dog walking activities in other areas of Wan Chai have decreased, resulting in improved sanitation conditions and less nuisance caused to the public. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the Government has drawn experience from the provision of this dog park; if it has, of the experience;

    (b)whether, with its strong financial position at present, the Government will provide a dog park in each district throughout the territory; and

    (c)given that keeping dogs has become a trend nowadays but dogs are not allowed in most of the parks under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, and some dog owners walk their dogs stealthily in those parks late at night, whether the Government will designate parts of larger parks as activity areas for dogs so as to provide convenience to dog owners on the one hand, and to reduce the sanitation problems arising from individual dog owners walking their dogs in parks unlawfully on the other hand?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

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

Regarding the construction of public hospitals in Tin Shui Wai and North Lantau, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the details of the study on the construction of a hospital in Tin Shui Wai and the construction timetable for the hospital;

    (b)whether it has reserved any land in Tin Shui Wai for the provision of a hospital; if it has, of the location; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)of the latest progress of the plan to construct a hospital in North Lantau and the construction timetable for the hospital; details of the facilities and services planned to be provided at the initial stage of the hospital's operation; and details of the public-private collaboration the authorities intend to adopt for the hospital?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

6. Hon Vincent FANG Kang to ask:
(Translation)

In the Budget for this financial year, the Financial Secretary proposed to waive the business registration fee for the current year to benefit all companies. However, some fixed-pitch hawkers and itinerant hawkers have relayed to me that as they must pay licence fee instead of business registration fee, they could not be benefited from this concessionary measure. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a) of the types of registration fees currently payable to the Government by businesses engaging in various kinds of economic activities in Hong Kong, and the current number of businesses which have to pay business registration fee;

    (b) of the respective current numbers of traders required and those not required to pay business registration fee, the types of fees payable by them to the Government for their trading activities and the amount involved; and

    (c)given that fixed-pitch hawkers and itinerant hawkers are currently required to pay licence fee to the Government in order to continue running their business, and such an arrangement is similar in nature to business registration fee payment, whether the Government has any plan to waive the hawker licence fee for the current financial year, thereby achieving the aim of "returning wealth to the people"; if it has, whether the arrangement will be on par with that of the business registration fee waiver, i.e. waiving hawker licence fee for the whole year; if it does not have such a plan, of the reasons for that?
Public Officers to reply: Secretary for Food and Health
Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

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

Will the Government inform this Council of the current number of non-civil service contract staff who, in accordance with their terms of appointment, are not entitled to paid general holidays which are not statutory holidays, with a breakdown by government department? Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

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

Will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the following information about the Coroner's Court ?

    (i)regarding reportable deaths

    Cases of reportable deaths Number of cases
    200520062007
    Total


    The pathologist could not ascertain the cause of death


    The Coroner granted an autopsy order


    The Coroner granted a waiver of autopsy


    The family of the deceased applied for a waiver of autopsy


    The Coroner decided to investigate the cause of death


    An inquest was held into the cause of death


    A non-official applied for a death inquest


    The Secretary for Justice applied for a death inquest



    (ii)regarding non-reportable deaths

    Cases of non-reportable deaths Number of cases
    200520062007
    The Coroner granted an autopsy order


    The family of the deceased applied for a waiver of autopsy


    An inquest was held into the cause of death


    A non-official applied for a death inquest


    The Secretary for Justice applied for a death inquest



    (b)the factors to be taken into consideration by the Coroner in deciding whether a death inquest should be held and an autopsy order should be granted?
Public Officer to reply : The Chief Secretary for Administration

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

Regarding the problem of road traffic noise in the Kowloon area, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)in the past three years, of the data obtained from traffic noise surveys conducted on the East Kowloon Corridor, West Kowloon Corridor, Prince Edward Road East, Prince Edward Road West and Lung Cheung Road, and whether traffic noise affecting these road sections has shown signs of deterioration;

    (b)of the number of complaints received in each of the past three years about traffic noise affecting the above road sections; and

    (c)whether at present, the above road sections have been installed with noise barriers; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

*10. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:
(Translation)

Last year, the Government established a Steering Committee on Population Policy under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for Administration to study ways to encourage parenthood, upgrade and nurture manpower resources, and to develop strategies and possible measures in this respect. However, apart from promoting community-based childcare services and increasing child allowance from 2007-2008 onwards, the authorities have no other specific measures to boost fertility rate. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the progress made by the Steering Committee on Population Policy in developing population strategies and when the relevant policies will be launched; and

    (b)whether the authorities will consider providing further financial incentives, such as, by drawing on the practice of the Singaporean and Italian authorities, awarding Baby Bonus to families with new-born babies, or introducing parental leave with reference to the practice of the European countries such as Norway, Germany and Finland, etc., so as to promote parenthood and thereby relieving the pressure of an ageing population?
Public Officer to reply : The Chief Secretary for Administration

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

In July 2006, this Council passed the amendments to the Betting Duty Ordinance (Cap. 108), one of which was to add a provision stipulating that the Secretary for Home Affairs ("the Secretary") must, in any licence issued for the conduct of horse race betting, require the holder of the licence (i.e. the Hong Kong Jockey Club ("HKJC")) to conspicuously display notices in every premises where it accepts bets (i.e. off-course betting branch), and the notices shall "contain a warning of the seriousness of the problems caused by excessive gambling" and "provide information on the services and facilities available in Hong Kong to problem gamblers and pathological gamblers". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the Secretary has specified the size of the letters/characters on such notices and the locations to display them; if he has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)whether it can provide details of the numbers, sizes and locations of such notices displayed in various off-course betting branches; and

    (c)of the respective numbers of complaints received, since the aforesaid provision came into operation, by the Government and HKJC in relation to the display of such notices, together with a breakdown by the subject matters of the complaints; as well as the details of the follow-up actions taken by the Government and HKJC on these complaints?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*12. Dr Hon David LI to ask:


According to the information on the web site of the Ratings and Valuation Department, private residential property rents have risen at a double-digit year-on-year rate since June 2007. The year-on-year rise in February this year reached 23%. The housing component makes up 29% of the Composite Consumer Price Index basket, and the substantial increase in rental costs will thus have a significant impact on the overall inflation rate. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that in his reply to my question at the Council meeting on 9 January 2008, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury indicated that the Administration did not know whether it was the landlord or the tenant of a property who benefited directly from the rates concessions granted for the 2007-2008 financial year, of any policy or measure the Government has adopted to reduce the financial burden on renters; and

    (b)whether the Government will review the operation of the Application List system with a view to increasing housing supply and hence lowering the rents for private residential properties?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

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

Spacious entrance lobbies are provided at the ground level in many newly-built government buildings (including cultural and recreational facilities) and the provision of air-conditioning for such space consumes much energy. When projects on new buildings were being examined at the meetings of the Home Affairs Panel and Public Works Subcommittee of this Council recently, I urged the authorities to adopt as far as possible a natural ventilation design when designing the entrance lobbies of new buildings to dispense with the provision of air-conditioning and thereby save energy. In connection with energy efficiency enhancement of new buildings, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether:
    (a)there are currently publicly-funded buildings in which a natural ventilation design has been adopted for their entrance lobbies; whether the authorities will consider adopting as far as possible such a design in new publicly-funded buildings; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)they will encourage real estate developers to adopt a natural ventilation design for entrance lobbies of commercial, industrial and residential buildings; if not, of the reasons for that; and

    (c)they will require that newly-built buildings be installed with specified energy saving installations and renewable energy facilities, such as motion and daylight sensors as well as sun pipes that bring in natural light to reduce the need for illumination, double-layer curtain walls with return air grills to reduce the energy consumption of air-conditioning systems, and solar photovoltaic panels to provide supplementary electricity; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Development

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

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance (Cap. 593) came into full operation on 22 December last year. Members of the public who do not wish to receive unsolicited faxes, short messages or pre-recorded telephone messages can have their fax/telephone numbers registered on the relevant registers set up by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority ("OFTA"). In this regard, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the respective up-to-date numbers of fax/telephone numbers registered on the three registers, and their respective percentages in the total number of such numbers;

    (b)the number of complaints received so far from users of numbers which have been registered on the relevant registers that they still received unwanted types of unsolicited electronic messages, and how OFTA has followed up such complaints;

    (c)the up-to-date number of senders of electronic messages who are subscribers of the data on the registers, and its percentage in the number of operators in the relevant sectors; and

    (d)the details of the operating costs of the registers concerned; whether the existing annual subscription charge of $1,600 per register can recover the cost, and if it has assessed if the charge has room for downward adjustment?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development

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

Regarding the Childhood Immunisation Programme ("CIP"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)given that the authorities said earlier that it would study the possibility of inoculating all children under 12 with influenza vaccines, of the latest progress of the study, and whether the authorities will implement the recommendations of the study before the next influenza peak season arrives; and

    (b)given that it has been reported that a university's study, which was commissioned by the authorities, on the cost-effectiveness of incorporating new or combination vaccines (including pneumococcal vaccines) into CIP had been completed, of the outcome of the study, and whether the authorities will consider making reference to the outcome of the study and update CIP in the near future?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

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

Regarding the assistance to elderly people residing on the Mainland and those who have returned to settle in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of cases received in the past two years by the authorities in which elderly people residing on the Mainland sought assistance because they had got into straitened circumstances, as well as the causes of their hardship;

    (b)given that there has been continuous inflation on the Mainland in recent months, whether the Government will reconsider further relaxing the current period of absence from Hong Kong for recipients of Old Age Allowance, so as to lessen the burden of living for elderly people residing on the Mainland; and

    (c)whether it knows the number of elderly people who returned in the past two years from the Mainland to settle in Hong Kong for economic or health reasons; and the assistance provided by the authorities to them?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

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

Will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the reasons for the differences in the current charges for government cultural and recreational facilities in different districts and details of the differences; and

    (b)whether the authorities have tried to narrow or remove such differences; if not, of the reasons for that; and whether the authorities have considered changing the policy and narrowing such differences by lowering the charges?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*18. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:
(Translation)

It was reported that in a joint operation carried out at the end of last year by the Labour Department and the Buildings Department to perform surprise checks at repair and maintenance work sites, only one out of the 18 truss-out scaffolds inspected was found to be in full compliance with the safety standards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)since the SME Sponsorship Scheme for Work-at-height Fall Arresting Equipment for Repair, Maintenance, Alterations and Additions Works was launched in October 2005, of the respective numbers of applications received and approved by the authorities for subsidy under the Scheme, the total amount of subsidy granted, as well as the reasons for some of the applications being rejected; and

    (b)whether it will enhance the promotion of safety for working at height in the construction industry to further publicize the proper use of truss-out scaffolds (commonly known as "supporting brackets") and transportable temporary anchor devices; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

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

It has been reported that as the problem of post-secondary students defaulting on loan repayments was serious (with the amount in default totalling $117 million in the 2006-2007 academic year), the Student Financial Assistance Agency is considering to provide to credit reference agencies the information of those loan borrowers who have failed to repay two or more consecutive quarterly instalments, so as to deter the borrowers from defaulting on repayments without reasons. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether:
    (a)they have assessed if the above practice will affect the borrowers' chance of obtaining approvals from banks loans, credit cards and mortgage loans in the future, and whether it will contravene the relevant provisions of the Code of Practice on Consumer Credit Data promulgated by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong; if they have, of the assessment results; and

    (b)they will take the initiative to look into the reasons why the borrowers default on loan repayments and take follow-up actions, with a view to assisting such borrowers in repaying their loans as soon as possible?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education

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

Regarding cycling facilities and the promotion of cycling, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of a breakdown by district council district, of the locations of all public cycle tracks, bicycle parking spaces and cycle parks, the responsible government departments (including the design, planning, construction and management of these facilities), as well as the respective numbers of traffic accidents involving bicycles in various districts last year and the resultant casualties;

    (b)whether it has assessed if there is any overlap in the functions of the above government departments, and how these departments should be coordinated to make them accountable to the public for their work in ensuring the safety of cycling facilities and reducing traffic accidents involving bicycles, and whether it will consider formulating a central policy on cycling and setting up an inter-departmental committee to coordinate the management of cycling facilities and promotion of cycling; and

    (c)whether it will consider studying the effect of encouraging the public to cycle on air quality and health, and whether it will cooperate with local cycling organizations to offer cycling training courses to all primary school pupils for free or at low fees?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

*For written reply.

III. Bills

Second Reading (Debates to resume), Committee Stage and Third Reading


1.Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2007:The Secretary for Justice

2.Energy Efficiency (Labelling of Products) Bill:Secretary for the Environment

IV. Members' Motions

  1. Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance

    Hon Albert HO to move the following motion:

    RESOLVED that the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 6) Order 2008, published in the Gazette as Legal Notice No. 49 of 2008 and laid on the table of the Legislative Council on 12 March 2008, be repealed.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs

  2. Ceasing the imposition of the levy on employers of foreign domestic helpers

    Hon Tommy CHEUNG: (Translation)

    That this Council urges the Government to immediately cease the imposition of the levy on employers of foreign domestic helpers.

    Amendment to motion
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan:
    (Translation)

    To delete "immediately" after "the Government to"; and to add "and, before doing so, make a one-off injection of not less than $20 billion into the Employees Retraining Fund so that the investment returns of the Fund can make up for the loss in revenue which will be suffered by the Employees Retraining Board as a result of the cessation of the imposition of the levy" immediately before the full stop.

    Amendment to Hon LEE Cheuk-yan's amendment
    Hon Andrew LEUNG Kwan-yuen:
    (Translation)

    To delete "before" after "domestic helpers and," and substitute with "after"; to delete "make a one-off injection of not less than $20 billion into the" after "doing so," and substitute with "effectively utilize the existing"; and to delete "so that the investment returns of the Fund can make up for the loss in revenue which will be suffered by the Employees Retraining Board as a result of the cessation of the imposition of the levy" immediately before the full stop.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

  3. Human rights and the right to return to one's hometown

    Hon Emily LAU: (Translation)

    That this Council urges the Central Government to honour the commitment it made when bidding to host the Olympic Games seven years ago that it would enhance human rights and develop democracy; moreover, as a number of Hong Kong people have been barred by the Central Government from returning to the Mainland for almost 20 years, this Council calls on the Central Government to respect the right of the Chinese nationals in Hong Kong to freely travel to and from the Mainland, and urges the Executive Authorities to assist these people to have their right to return to their hometown reinstated.

    Amendment to motion
    Hon TAM Yiu-chung:
    (Translation)

    To add "supports the hosting of the Olympic Games by Beijing and now" before "urges the Central Government"; to delete "that it would" after "seven years ago" and substitute with ", so as to effectively promote the State's development on the fronts of environmental protection, education, sports, technology, economy and culture, etc, and help"; to add "in order to enable the Central Government to successfully honour its commitment, this Council opposes all acts to boycott the Olympic Games, and to disrupt and sabotage the transmission of the Olympic flame, and condemns all remarks which are false and insulting to China;" after "develop democracy;"; to delete "as a number of Hong Kong people have been barred by the Central Government from returning to the Mainland for almost 20 years, this Council calls on the Central Government to respect the right of the" after "moreover," and substitute with "this Council urges the SAR Government to assist those"; to delete "to freely travel to and from the Mainland, and urges the Executive Authorities to assist these people to have their right" after "Chinese nationals in Hong Kong" and substitute with "who are in need"; and to delete "reinstated" immediately before the full stop and substitute with "on the premise that the provisions of the Basic Law and the principle of 'one country, two systems' are complied with, and the system of exit and entry administration in the Mainland is respected, so as to enhance the exchange between the people in both places".

    Amendment to Hon TAM Yiu-chung's amendment
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan:
    (Translation)

    To delete "urges the SAR Government to assist those" before "Chinese nationals in Hong Kong" and substitute with "calls on the Central Government to respect the right of the"; to delete "who are in need" after "Chinese nationals in Hong Kong" and substitute with "to freely travel to and from the Mainland, and urges the Executive Authorities to assist these people to have their right"; and to delete "on the premise that the provisions of the Basic Law and the principle of 'one country, two systems' are complied with, and the system of exit and entry administration in the Mainland is respected, so as to enhance the exchange between the people in both places" immediately before the full stop and substitute with "reinstated".

    Public Officers to attend:Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs
    Secretary for Home Affairs
Clerk to the Legislative Council