Council Meeting (Agenda) 11 February 2009



A 08/09-17

Legislative Council

Agenda

Wednesday 11 February 2009 at 11:00 am

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / InstrumentsL.N. No.
1.Telecommunications (Designation of Frequency Bands subject to Payment of Spectrum Utilization Fee) (Amendment) Order 200920/2009
2.Telecommunications (Level of Spectrum Utilization Fees) (Second Generation Mobile Services) (Amendment) Regulation 200921/2009
3.Telecommunications (Determining Spectrum Utilization Fees by Auction) (Amendment) Regulation 200922/2009
4.Dangerous Goods (Consignment by Air) (Safety) Regulations (Amendment of Schedule) Order 2006 (Commencement) Notice 200923/2009

Other Papers

1.No. 58-Employees' Compensation Insurance Levies Management Board Annual Report 2007/08
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

2.No. 59-Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board Annual Report 2007-2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

3.No. 60-Occupational Deafness Compensation Board Annual Report 2007-2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

4.No. 61-Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board Annual Report 2007
(to be presented by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare)

5.No. 62-Report on the Administration of the Fire Services Department Welfare Fund together with the Director of Audit's Report and Audited Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2008
(to be presented by the Secretary for Security)

6.No. 63-Annual Report 2007 to the Chief Executive by The Commissioner on Interception of Communications and Surveillance (together with a statement under section 49(4) of the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance)
(to be presented by the Secretary for Security)

II. Questions

1. Hon Audrey EU to ask: (Translation)

A number of confirmed cases of human infection of avian influenza have occurred on the Mainland since January this year, resulting in five deaths. At the same time, the World Health Organization ("WHO") has indicated that there is an increasing likelihood of a major global outbreak of influenza on a scale similar to that in 1968. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the latest information about the avian influenza epidemic on the Mainland that the Government has obtained through the exchange and notification mechanism on infectious diseases; and

    (b)in the face of the recent spate of fatal avian influenza cases on the Mainland and WHO's warning, what measures the Government will take to prevent the outbreak of influenza and human infection of avian influenza in Hong Kong?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

2. Dr Hon LEUNG Ka-lau to ask:
(Translation)

At present, the Government provides medical benefits to civil servants, retired civil servants, and their eligible dependants ("civil service medical benefits") and the Hospital Authority ("HA") is the major service provider. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it knows the numbers of "in-patient days", "discharges and deaths", "accident and emergency services attendances", "specialist out-patient (clinical) attendances" and "general out-patient attendances" in respect of the above persons who used HA's services in each of the past three years, as well as the respective percentages of such numbers in the relevant totals; based on the "unit costs" referred to in HA's Annual Report, of the total costs for the provision of civil service medical benefits by HA in the past three years; and in order to provide services to the above persons, the resultant increase in the average number of days that new cases of the out-patient clinics of each specialty have to wait at present;

    (b)given that HA's main service target is the public, of the reasons and justifications for the Government to shift to HA its responsibility, as the employer, to provide medical benefits to its employees; and

    (c)whether it has any plan to purchase private medical services and medical insurance to substitute the services provided by HA, with a view to providing better civil service medical benefits and addressing the problem of imbalance between the public and private health sectors?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

3. Hon WONG Yuk-man to ask:
(Translation)

In as early as 1994, all appointed seats of District Boards ("DBs") were abolished, and all DB members (except the 27 ex-officio members of the New Territories DBs, who were all Rural Committee chairmen) were returned by geographical constituencies. Yet, the Government re-instated 102 appointed seats in the District Councils ("DCs") in 2000. There have been criticisms that the re-instatement is tantamount to changing the voting results of DC elections. Moreover, the Government often appoints people who support its policies as DC members, leading to imbalance in the political "ecology" in the districts. Furthermore, the Government has so far not fully honoured the promise it made when the Urban Council and Regional Council were dissolved on 1 January 2000, i.e. to allocate more resources to DCs and enhance their functions to encourage public participation in public affairs at the district level. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)at present it has any plan to amend the District Councils Ordinance to abolish all appointed DC seats and have all DC members returned by geographical constituencies; if it has, when it will implement the plan; if not, of the reasons for that; and

    (b)it will delegate to DCs all the powers of the two former Municipal Councils; if so, when it will be implemented; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officers to reply :Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs
Secretary for Home Affairs

4. Hon Albert HO to ask: (Translation)

Under the Money Lenders Ordinance, if the effective interest rate on a loan exceeds 48%, the loan transaction concerned shall be presumed to be extortionate. Yet, authorized institutions (including banks) are exempt from the Ordinance, so that they are free to set interest rates under the Currency Board arrangement in Hong Kong. It has been reported that a bank has recently charged its credit card customers an annualized percentage rate of interest of nearly 50% on cash advance service. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether the Hong Kong Monetary Authority ("HKMA") has:
    (a)performed the functions of the Monetary Authority as stipulated in section 7 of the Banking Ordinance by requesting the bank concerned to provide, in accordance with section 12.3 of Chapter 1 of the Code of Banking Practice ("the Code"), sufficient justifications to explain that the charging of a high interest rate of over 48% is not unreasonable or unfair; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)regularly monitored the interest rates charged by banks for various types of loans; if so, of the relevant details and the monitoring results in the past year; if not, what measures HKMA has in place to ensure that banks comply with the provisions on interest rates under the Code; and

    (c)assessed if it is necessary to review the current practice of relying solely on the Code to regulate the level of interest rates charged by banks; if it has not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

5. Hon Paul CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

With the economy of Hong Kong sliding into recession recently, the Official Receiver's Office ("ORO") announced earlier that the number of petitioned cases of winding-up of companies had continued to rise. It has been learnt that at present, ORO contracts out winding-up cases to private institutions. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)how ORO ensures that private institutions of different sizes have equal opportunities of being awarded the above outsourcing contracts; whether it had conducted any review in the past five years on the procedure for granting its outsourcing contracts, including whether the tender prices were reasonable (e.g. those as low as $0); if it had, of the details and results of the reviews, and how ORO will improve its outsourcing procedure in the light of the review results;

    (b)whether ORO has, since it started to contract out the above work in 2002, found the performance of any outsourced service contractor falling short of contractual requirements; if it has, of the number of cases involved, as well as the follow-up actions taken and the outcome of such cases; and what mechanism and measures ORO have put in place to ensure the quality of outsourced winding-up services; and

    (c)of the follow-up actions which outsourced service contractors must take when they uncover misconduct on the part of the management of the wound-up companies, with a breakdown, by type of misconduct, of the number of such cases in the past five years, the follow-up actions (including the number of cases in which prosecution was instituted) taken by the relevant outsourced service contractors and ORO, as well as the outcome of the cases?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

6. Hon Starry LEE to ask:
(Translation)

Last year, the Independent Commission Against Corruption received 943 corruption reports which were related to building management. The figure accounts for some 40% of the corruption reports against the private sector for the whole year and is a more than a onefold increase over the figure of 10 years ago. Moreover, a number of government departments and related organizations (including the Home Affairs Department, the Hong Kong Housing Society and the Urban Renewal Authority) are at present providing various support services to owners' corporations ("OCs") of private buildings, while the Small Claims Tribunal and the Lands Tribunal are responsible for handling related legal proceedings. In order to improve the management of buildings and reduce related disputes, will the Government inform this Council whether:
    (a)it will consider establishing a dedicated department to provide one-stop building management advisory service to replace the current practice of providing support services to OCs through various government departments and relevant organizations; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)it will consider establishing a building affairs tribunal or arbitration centre to provide a way to resolve building management disputes professionally and expeditiously; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)it will consider amending the law to relax the existing requirement that the consent of all owners of the building is required for any alteration to the Deed of Mutual Covenant ("DMC"), with a view to reducing various types of building management disputes relating to DMC; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*7. Hon WONG Sing-chi to ask:
(Translation)

In 2003, the Government introduced a three-year pilot scheme under which an annual funding of $3.5 million was provided through the Ping Wo Fund respectively to two non-government organizations ("NGOs") to subsidize each of them to operate a counselling and treatment centre for problem and pathological gamblers. Subsequently, the Government extended the pilot scheme by two years and then by 15 months up to December 2009, but the level of annual funding remained unchanged. Caritas - Hong Kong, the operator of one of the centres, wrote to the Home Affairs Bureau in the middle of last year requesting for additional funding to cope with the financial pressure of rent increase, pay rise, etc. faced by the centre in recent years. However, the request was not approved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)why the Government has not increased the level of annual funding for the two centres since 2003; whether it will increase the level of funding; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)what criteria the Government has adopted for determining the allocation of the funds of the Ping Wo Fund, financed by donations from the Hong Kong Jockey Club ("HKJC"), to various NGOs for the provision of the services concerned; what the current balance of the Fund is and how the amount concerned will be utilized;

    (c)whether it will make reference to the relevant practices adopted by the governments of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and legislate to require HKJC to contribute a certain percentage of its revenue to the Ping Wo Fund; and

    (d)why the Government had set a time frame for the pilot scheme, and whether it will provide the services concerned on a long-term basis instead; if it will, when it will be implemented; if not, for how long the pilot scheme will be further extended?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*8. Hon Paul TSE to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the policy on issuing visas to visitors to Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has, in the past three years, considered relaxing the visa requirements for citizens of fast-developing Southeast Asian countries (such as Vietnam) and simplifying the relevant procedure; if it has, of the details; if not, whether it will expeditiously consider adopting such measures; if it will not, the reasons for that;

    (b)which countries are being considered for relaxing the visa requirements for their citizens or simplifying the relevant procedure; the expected annual increase in the number of visitors to Hong Kong after the implementation of such measures; and

    (c)whether it has, in the past three years, conducted assessment on the benefits and other impact on the local tourism industry as well as the overall economy that will be brought about by the further relaxation of the visa requirements for visitors and simplification of the relevant procedure; if it has, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

I have recently received complaints from some members of the public, who planned to adopt cats and dogs kept by the animal management centres under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department ("AFCD"), that while undergoing the relevant adoption procedure, AFCD had euthanized the animals concerned without prior notice. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the time normally taken by members of the public to complete the procedure for adopting the cats and dogs kept by the animal management centres;

    (b)what reasons AFCD usually adopts in deciding to euthanize cats or dogs kept by the animal management centres, and what procedure it follows in making such decisions; of the current mechanism for reviewing such decisions and monitoring the euthanasia procedure;

    (c)whether it will, before euthanizing the cats and dogs, inform those people who are undergoing the procedure for adopting the animals concerned; if it will, what channels are available for members of the public to raise objections against the decisions to euthanize the animals concerned; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (d)whether it will give up euthanasia as the major method to deal with abandoned or stray cats and dogs, and expeditiously switch to using the method of trapping, neutering and returning such animals to original colony; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

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

Employers of foreign domestic helpers ("FDHs") must sign a standard employment contract specified by the Immigration Department ("ID") with their FDHs before ID issues employment visas to the FDHs concerned. Clause 9(a) of the standard employment contract stipulates that in the event that the FDH is ill or suffers personal injury during the period of employment, regardless of whether such illness or injury is caused by the employment, the employer shall provide free medical treatment to the FDH. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether there is an upper limit on the amount of medical expenses to be borne by the employers under the aforesaid clause; if not, of the justifications for not setting an upper limit;

    (b)what criminal and civil liabilities are to be borne by employers for failure to pay the medical expenses for their FDHs; and

    (c)whether it has, through requiring the employers to sign a standard employment contract or other means, stipulated that employers of other categories of imported employees shall provide free medical treatment to the employees concerned; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

*11. Dr Hon LAM Tai-fai to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the development of soccer in Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has explored the causes for the drop of Hong Kong men's football team in the world ranking of the F?d?ration Internationale de Football Association from being 119th in 2003 to 152nd this year, as well as for Hong Kong being overtaken by Asian countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)as the information of the Hong Kong Football Association shows that the average attendance per match was only 919 in respect of the 95 matches of the first division competitions (League and Cup) held at the Mong Kok Stadium in 2006-2007, and the Government is currently planning to spend over $200 million on the facility improvement works for the Mong Kok Stadium, including the provision of about 6 500 seats, whether it has assessed the average attendance per match for the aforesaid first division football matches to be held at the Mong Kok Stadium upon completion of the improvement works, and if the various facilities of the new venue will be fully utilized; and

    (c)whether it has assessed if the current average ticket sales of each football match can cover the basic expenses of professional football teams; if the assessment result is in the negative, whether it will review the existing policy on the development of professional football; if it will not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Home Affairs

*12. Dr Hon Priscilla LEUNG to ask:
(Translation)

The statutory no smoking areas have been extended to cover amusement game centres and Internet computer services centres (commonly known as "Internet cafes") since 1 January 2007. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective numbers of complaints about smoking at such premises received by the Tobacco Control Office ("TCO") of the Department of Health last year, as well as the follow-up measures taken;

    (b)of the respective numbers of inspections conducted at such premises by officers of TCO last year and the number of prosecutions instituted; and

    (c)whether it has assessed if smoking at such premises is prevalent at present; if the assessment result is affirmative, whether it will adopt counter measures; if it will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Food and Health

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

According to the "Women and Men in Hong Kong - Key Statistics" published by the Census and Statistics Department, nearly 420 000 female employed persons had a monthly earning of less than $5,000 in 2007. Some community groups consider that the problem of working women earning an income which can barely meet the basic expenses of their families ("working-poor") is serious, raising concerns whether the support provided by the Government for working-poor women is adequate, and the situation will deteriorate under the impact of the financial tsunami. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)of the respective percentages of the number of working-poor women among the female labour force and the overall labour force of Hong Kong in the past three years;

    (b)whether it has studied the trend in the number of working-poor women in the past three years; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it had consulted the Women's Commission ("WoC") in the past three years on formulating policies to alleviate the above problem; if it has, of the mechanism in place to implement the views of WoC; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

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

In reply to my question at the Council meeting on 28 November 2007, the Government said that it would continue to combat illegal practices employed by debt collection agencies ("DCAs"). Yet, I have learnt that recently the situation of debtors being harassed by DCAs in recovering debts is deteriorating, and it is also increasingly common for banks, finance companies, telecommunication service companies, beauty service companies and tutorial teachers to hire DCAs to collect money owed by their customers. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of cases about harassment by DCAs reported by the public to the Police since 1 January of last year;

    (b)whether it will, in view of the above situation, reconsider accepting the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in 2002 on creating a criminal offence of harassment of debtors and others as well as establishing a statutory licensing system for monitoring DCAs; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it will consider introducing new enforcement measures to curb the harassing practices of DCAs in recovering debts; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Security

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

Under the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement in Public Housing Estates ("the Marking Scheme"), points will be allotted to tenants of the Housing Authority ("HA") if they have committed a misdeed in the public rental housing ("PRH") estate in which they reside; and upon accumulation of 16 points or more within two years, HA may issue a Notice-to-Quit and terminate the tenancy. Regarding the implementation of the Marking Scheme in common parts of the estates under the Tenants Purchase Scheme ("TPS"), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the current number of PRH tenants in TPS estates; the number of TPS estates which has not implemented the Marking Scheme in its common parts, and the number of PRH tenants in such estates;

    (b)given that at present the Marking Scheme is not implemented in the common parts of some TPS estates as the consent of the relevant Owners' Corporations has not been obtained, the behaviour of PRH tenants of these estates in the common parts concerned is not bound by the Marking Scheme, while the behaviour of PRH tenants of other estates is, whether the authorities will adopt measures to resolve this problem of inconsistency; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it has considered formulating measures so that the behaviour of all PRH tenants in the common parts of the TPS estates in which they reside are bound by the Marking Scheme; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

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

It is learnt that as the number of grades and classes will increase upon implementation of the new senior secondary ("NSS") academic structure in the next school year, many schools are facing the problem of classroom shortage; they therefore have applied to the Education Bureau ("EDB") for the provision of additional classrooms and special rooms. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the names of the schools, grouped by school type (including special school):

    (i)which had applied to EDB for the provision of additional classrooms in the past three school years, together with the details of the addition works (including the number of classrooms to be added and the projected completion date), as well as the number of schools whose applications are still pending approval and the relevant reasons;

    (ii)which have or will have shortage of classrooms in the current and the next five school years, and the number of classrooms in shortage each year;

    (b)whether it will speed up the vetting of applications and shorten the construction time; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (c)of the existing measures to ensure that schools have sufficient classrooms to dovetail with the implementation of the NSS academic structure; and

    (d)whether it has assessed the number of schools which will need to cope with the problem of classroom shortage by means of floating classes; if it has, of the names of such schools and the numbers of floating classes required in each of the next five years; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education

*17. Hon CHEUNG Kwok-che to ask:
(Translation)

Some community work organizers ("CWOs") who are employed by the Social Welfare Department ("SWD") on non-civil service contract terms have relayed to me that they are underpaid and their personal safety at work is not safeguarded. Their duties include assisting SWD in implementing the Support for Self-reliance Scheme. Specifically, they arrange for and supervise employable and able-bodied recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance to perform mandatory community work. Yet, three CWOs need to supervise up to 40 participants and have to monitor their performance and discipline. Hence it is not uncommon for CWOs to have conflicts with unmotivated participants and even be assaulted. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)how SWD determined the remuneration level of CWOs, including the civil service ranks the remunerations of which it has made reference to;

    (b)whether SWD regularly reviewed the duties of CWOs and what measures it took to ensure their personal safety, in the past five years; and

    (c)whether at present it has plans to include the said posts in the civil service establishment; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Labour and Welfare

*18. Dr Hon David LI to ask:


The Civil Aviation Department ("CAD") monitors aircraft noise and flight tracks by means of the Aircraft Noise and Flight Track Monitoring System ("ANFTMS"). When the wind is from the east or northeast, aircraft will depart from the Hong Kong International Airport towards the northeast until it reaches Ma Wan where, depending on flight destinations, it may turn south over West Lamma Channel, or proceed to the southeast. With regard to aircraft taking off towards the northeast, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of incidents in which departing aircraft deviated from the set flight paths within the territory and took a short-cut flight path in each of the past five years;

    (b)of the names of the three airline companies with the highest percentages of flights which took a short-cut flight path in each of the past five years;

    (c)of the follow-up actions CAD takes on incidents of aircraft taking a short-cut flight path; whether CAD took any escalated action against repeat offenders in the past five years; if so, of the details; and

    (d)whether ANFTMS provides a full and accurate assessment of the impact of aircraft noise on residential areas within 3 000 metres from either side of the aforesaid two flight paths; if so, of the details; if not, whether it has plans to improve the system?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

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

It has been learnt that the MTR Corporation Limited decided in 2005 to retrofit noise barriers along the Tsing Yi section of the Airport Railway in order to address the noise problem caused by the enhancement of Airport Express services, and the project was scheduled for completion in June 2006. Yet, the project has still not been completed to date. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of complaints received by the Environmental Protection Department ("EPD") in the past three years about the noise generated by trains running along the said section; among such complaints, of the number of substantiated cases, and the follow-up actions taken by EPD and other authorities concerned;

    (b)whether EPD had regularly monitored the noise level of the said section in the past three years; if it had, whether there were cases of the noise level exceeding the maximum statutory limit; if so, of the details;

    (c)whether it knows the reasons for the above project not having been completed to date;

    (d)whether it has assessed if the above noise barriers are effective in reducing the noise nuisance to the residents in the vicinity; if it has, of the result; and

    (e)whether the Government will adopt other measures to reduce the noise nuisance of the said section caused to the residents in the vicinity; if it will, of the details?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Environment

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

Existing legislation stipulates that, for the purpose of establishing the number of persons that may be carried in a vehicle, three children aged three years or above who do not exceed 1.3 metres in height shall be counted as two persons. It has been reported that some school transport vehicles ("STVs") carrying primary and kindergarten pupils are often seriously overloaded. For example, some STVs which carry 31 pupils only have 15 seats for the pupils to sit. Moreover, traffic accidents involving STVs happen from time to time, arousing concern about the safety of STVs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of cases in which prosecution was instituted by the Police against overloading of STVs in each of the past three years;

    (b)how the authorities monitor whether STVs are overloaded and take enforcement actions; and

    (c)what measures are in place to enhance the safety of STVs and whether it will stipulate that all seats of newly-registered STVs shall be installed with seat belts; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport and Housing

* For written reply.

III. Bills

First Reading

Adaptation of Laws Bill 2009

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)

Adaptation of Laws Bill 2009:Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs

IV. Motions

Proposed resolution under the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation Ordinance

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development to move the following motion:


RESOLVED that the contingent liability of the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation under contracts of insurance shall not at any time exceed the sum of 30,000 million dollars.

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 TAM Yiu-chung to move the following motion:

    RESOLVED that Rule 80 of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region be amended ?

    (a)in paragraph (a), by adding "and" after the semicolon;

    (b)in paragraph (b), by repealing "select committee(s) or investigation committee(s)" and substituting "select committee, investigation committee or any other committee".

  2. Procrastinating public consultation on constitutional development

    Hon Albert HO: (Translation)

    That this Council strongly condemns the Chief Executive Mr Donald TSANG Yam-kuen for failing to honour his pledge made in the Policy Address by procrastinating public consultation on constitutional development, hence breaking faith with the people.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs

  3. Relaxing the eligibility criteria for legal aid

    Dr Hon Priscilla LEUNG: (Translation)

    That, as the high litigation fees in Hong Kong are beyond the means of the middle class in general, in particular cases for which appeals may be lodged to the Court of Final Appeal where the litigation fees incurred are often astronomical, it is not uncommon that middle-class people go bankrupt because of their involvement in legal proceedings, hence the provision of appropriate legal aid services to such middle-class people is very important; however, under section 5 of the existing Legal Aid Ordinance (Cap. 91), the asset limit for legal aid applicants is $165,700, which is far below the actual need, rendering the majority of the middle class being excluded from the protection net of legal aid; if involved in litigation, the middle-class people are neither able to pay the high lawyer fees on their own nor eligible to apply for legal aid, they are therefore deprived of judiciary justice; on the other hand, the existing legal aid services only cover litigation cases in Hong Kong, and over the past two decades, a large number of Hong Kong permanent residents have been working and living in the Mainland, and it is very likely that they may get involved in legal proceedings in their daily lives, business operation or work, but they have nowhere to turn to for any legal assistance; in this connection, this Council urges the Government to:

    (a)conduct a comprehensive review on the existing legal aid system;

    (b)relax the asset limit for legal aid applicants (including that for the Supplementary Legal Aid Scheme) to a reasonable level so that more people in need are eligible to apply for legal aid; and

    (c)extend the scope of the existing legal aid services to cover litigation cases in the Mainland involving Hong Kong permanent residents who are in the Mainland.

    Amendments to the motion
    (i)Dr Hon Margaret NG: (Translation)

    To add "to uphold the rule of law, it is necessary to ensure that no one is unable to exercise his or her rights under the law for want of financial means, and" after "That,"; to delete "high" after "to pay the"; to add "and extend the scope of assistance" after "a reasonable level"; to delete "and" after "eligible to apply for legal aid;"; and to add "; (d) consider implementing the recommendations set out in the Report on Conditional Fees published by the Law Reform Commission in July 2007; (e) review the existing free legal advice service and set up community legal service centres; and (f) formulate principles for determining legal fees for criminal legal aid so as to establish a more professional criminal legal aid system" immediately before the full stop.

    (ii)Hon Albert HO: (Translation)

    To add "and establish an independent body for assessing and approving applications for legal aid" after "legal aid system"; to delete "and" after "eligible to apply for legal aid;"; and to add "; and (d) consider amending the law to enable the Director of Legal Aid to waive the asset limit for application of legal aid in respect of litigation cases involving constitutional issues or significant public interest, in addition to that for litigation cases involving human rights issues" immediately before the full stop.

    (iii)Prof Hon Patrick LAU: (Translation)

    To delete "; and (c) extend the scope of the existing legal aid services to cover litigation cases in the Mainland involving Hong Kong permanent residents who are in the Mainland" immediately before the full stop.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Home Affairs

Clerk to the Legislative Council