LegCo Paper No. CB(1)2158/95-96
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/4/95/2

Bills Committee on
Buildings (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1995

Minutes of Meeting
held on Tuesday, 25 June 1996 at 8:30 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

Public Officers Attending :

Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Director of Buildings
Mr CHENG Wei-dart
Deputy Director of Buildings
Mr Edward LOK Che-leung
Assistant Director of Buildings (Legal & Management)
Mr A N Watson-Brown
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman

Attendance by Invitation :

Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA)
Mr Dennis LAU Wing-kwong
Mr LAM Wo-hei

Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE)
Mr Barry Stubbings
Dr Robert Kennard

Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS)

Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA)
Mr Kent LEE
Mr TONG Chun-wan

Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA)
Mr Patrick CHAN

Staff in Attendance :

Mr LEE Yu-sung
Miss Odelia LEUNG
Mrs Mary TANG

I. Confirmation of minutes of meetings

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1683/95-96)

The minutes of meeting held on 23 May 1996 were confirmed.

II. Meeting with HKIA, HKIE, HKIS, REDA, HKCA and the Administration

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1666/95-96)

2. The Chairman took the meeting through the marked up copy of the Bill.

Clause 2 Interpretation

3. It was agreed that the definition of "supervision plan" should be revised to include the phrase "prior to or" before the words "at the time of application for consent to the commencement of building works or street works". This would serve to state more clearly as to when the supervision plan should be submitted. The amendments should also take care of the submission of revised supervision plans in the course of building works.

Clause 6A Disciplinary proceedings for authorised persons (AP) or registered structural engineers (RSE)

Section 7

4. The Administration agreed to consider adding the word "may" before subsections (1)(a), (b) and (c) and deleting the words "for a period" from subsection (1A)(c).

5. Mr Edward HO was concerned about subsection (2)(ba) which empowered the Disciplinary Board to fine AP/RSE for a sum not exceeding $250,000. This subject had not been discussed before. Mr A N Watson-Brown explained that penalty in terms of fine was introduced as an intermediate level of punishment between the more serious action of removal or suspension from register and the lesser action of reprimand. The four-tier disciplinary action was in line with the punishments that could be imposed by the Contractors’ Disciplinary Board Panel. At members’ request, Mr Watson-Brown agreed to find out whether the imposition of fines as a disciplinary action was also applicable to other professionals.


Clause 7 Renewal of registration as a contractor

Section 8C

6. The meeting agreed that the phrase "is to continue in force" in subsection (2A) should be replaced by "will continue to be in force". Section 8F(1) would be amended the same.

Clause 8 Section substituted

Section 9

7. The meeting agreed that in subsections (5)(a) and (6)(a) the words "prepared by the contractor" would be added after "supervision plans" for clarity.

Clause 9 Appointment and powers of disciplinary board

Section 11

8. The meeting agreed that subsection 3(A) should be amended to the effect that the legal adviser of the person who was the subject of the hearing would have the right to be present and to answer to questions raised by the disciplinary board, and that the right to be legally represented should be expressly stated.

Clause 11 Section substituted

Section 13

9. The meeting agreed that in subsections (1A)(c) and (3) in the manner of deviation should be clearly defined.

Clause 11B Section added

Section 14A

10. Members deliberated on subsection (1A). They considered the present drafting too restrictive which would not allow the Building Authority the flexibility to decide on cases of deviations from supervision plans. The meeting agreed that the words "must not consent" be deleted.

11. Members noted that subsection (2) would apply in cases where the Building Authority had decided that no fresh supervision plan would need to be submitted in certain circumstances. The Building Authority might refuse to give consent if the authorised person had not lodged a supervision plan for the works.

12. The meeting agreed that "the guidelines" referred to in subsection (3) should be in the form of Technical Memorandum. Technical Memorandum would have a statutory status and amendments to which would be subjected to the approval of the Legislative Council.

Clause 13 Conditions may be imposed in certain cases

Section 17

13. Members suggested that subsection (5) providing for suspension and revocation of consent should be incorporated in clause 15 (section 23) which dealt with the issue of cease work orders. Mr CHENG Wei-dart stated that he had reservations in combining these provisions because they cater for different situations. He explained that under clause 15, cease work order could only be issued if there had been deviations which in the opinion of the Building Authority might lead to a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation. In situations where the Building Authority could not form an opinion about the possibility of danger, it would suspend the building works for safety reasons under clause 13(5). At members’ request, Mr Watson-Brown agreed to look into the possibility of combining these provisions.


Clause 17 Offences

Section 40

14. Members were unanimous in requesting the Administration to remove the provisions for criminal sanction. Mr Albert CHAN was concerned that these provisions would not apply to government projects. In reply, Mr Canice MAK stated that in view of the recent spate of industrial incidents, the Administration had been urged to tighten up supervision on construction sites. All along public projects and private projects were managed under different systems. The Administration was prepared to consider applying the criminal sanction provisions to government projects, but such a change would take time. However, given the urgent need to tighten up safety measures, the Administration considered it necessary to apply criminal sanction to private sector projects first, and would come up with proposals to apply the same to public projects.

15. Mr Edward HO pointed out that the provisions of the Bill had already provided for an improved supervision system for building and construction sites. Together with a better registration system for building professionals, safety in building sites would be enhanced. As far as liability was concerned, the professionals were already subject to serious liabilities under the existing provisions of the Bill and the common law. The recent accidents happened in both private project and public project sites and it was unfair to penalize only the private sector. Mr HO was of the view that criminal sanction would not be conducive to enhancing construction safety. The Administration should review the situation after the Bill had been in operation for some time.

16. The Chairman stated that if the Administration was not prepared to withdraw the provisions on criminal sanction, the Bills Committee would move a Committee Stage Amendment to achieve this effect. He opined that the introduction of criminal liability could not improve construction safety overnight, in particular when a time lag for the operation of criminal sanction was intended.

17. The Administration noted members’ views.

18. The Chairman reminded members that the next meeting would be held on 26 June 1996 to conclude deliberations on the Bill.

19. The meeting closed at 10:30 a.m.

LegCo Secretariat
2 October 1996

Last Updated on 25 Oct, 1996