LegCo Paper No. CB(1)2159/95-96 (These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref :CB1/BC/4/95

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

Minutes of Meeting held on Wednesday, 26 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 Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG, MBE, FEng, JP

Members Absent :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

Public Officers Attending :

    Mr C F MAK
    Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
    Dr Y L CHOI
    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
    Mr C M WONG
    Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS)
    Mr C K LAU
    Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA)
    Mr S Y WAI
    Mr Kent LEE
    Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA)
    Mr Patrick CHAN

Staff in Attendance :

    Mr LEE Yu-sung, ALA1
    Miss Odelia LEUNG, CAS(1)1
    Mrs Mary TANG, SAS(1)2

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

The latest draft Committee Stage amendments to be moved by the Administration were tabled at the meeting.

At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr A N Watson-Brown took members through the paper.

Clause 2 - section 2

The definition of supervision plan was revised to make it clear that the plan could be lodged prior to or at the time of application.

New clause 6A - section 7

The word "may" was added before subsection (1)(a), (b) and (c). The phrase "for a period" was deleted from subsection (1)(c).

Clause 7 - section 8

In proposed sections 8C(2A) and 8F(2), the phrase "is to continue in force" was amended to read "will continue to be in force".

Clause 8 - section 9

In subsections (5)(a) and (6)(a), the phrase "the prescribed manner" was deleted and substituted with "accordance with his supervision plan".

Clause 9 - section 11

In proposed subsection (3A), the last phrase was amended to read "and the right to comment on the matters raised by the legal adviser of the disciplinary board". The last part of proposed subsection (3B) was revised to read "is entitled to be represented by a legal practitioner at disciplinary proceedings".

Clause 11 - proposed section 13

The word "may" was added to subsection (1) before "-". Subsection (1A)(c) was redrafted to take care of permissible deviations from a supervision plan. At the Chairman’s request, Mr Watson-Brown agreed to replace the words "is not provided" by "is not permissible". The same amendment would be made to subsection (1A)(f).

New clause 11B - proposed section 14A

The heading of this section was amended. The words "must not consent" were deleted from subsection (1). In subsection (3), the word "guidelines" was replaced by "technical memorandum". The meeting agreed that the words "and standards issued by the Building Authority" would be deleted.

Clause 13 - section 17

This clause, which dealt with suspension or revocation of consent, was deleted taking account of members’ views. Some of the conditions under this clause were incorporated in clause 15.

Clause 15 - section 23

This section was revised to include the essence of clause 13.

New clause 16A - proposed section 39A

At members’ suggestion, the guidelines to be issued by the Building Authority would be in the form of technical memorandum (TM). TM would be subject to the negative approval of the Legislative Council.

Members were concerned about the commencement date of TM and its subsequent amendments because these would have a bearing on contracts in force or about to be entered into. In response, Mr Watson-Brown said that he would take note of this point in drafting TM.

On Mr Kent LEE’s concern about any time frame for the lifting of a cease work order, Dr Y L CHOI stated that this would depend on the response of the contractor in complying with the required conditions. It was inappropriate to set a time limit for the lifting of a cease work order. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that a reasonable time frame for lifting a cease work order could be specified in TM. Mr Watson-Brown said that subsection (1)(g) could be expanded to cover members’ concern.

Imposition of fines

As regards the imposition of fines as a form of disciplinary action in other professions, the Chairman drew members’ attention to the Administration’s reply which stated that under section 35(1)(c) of the Professional Accountants Ordinance (Cap. 50), the Disciplinary Committee might make an order that an accountant who was guilty of disciplinary offences would have to pay a penalty not exceeding $500,000 to the Hong Kong Society of Accountants.

Criminal sanction

Mr Canice MAK informed members that the Executive Council endorsed the provisions for criminal sanction at its meeting on 25 June 1996 and asked that the Administration examine how these could apply to public projects. Since public projects and private sector projects had all along been managed under different systems, to operate a public project in the same way as a private sector project would involve major administrative and organizational changes, in particular in the Works Branch and the Hong Kong Housing Authority. Furthermore, the roles played by architects and engineers in private sector projects vis-a-vis public projects were different. Statistics showed that the accident rate in private sector projects was comparatively higher than in public projects. Whilst the Administration was prepared to examine how the management system in private sector projects could be applied to public projects, in view of the urgency in improving safety in construction sites, there was a need to introduce criminal sanction first into private sector projects. Members, professionals and the Administration had gone a long way in working out a supervision system whereby the duties and responsibilities of different building personnel in construction works would be clearly defined. Upon implementation, the supervision system could identify who should be held responsible for supervising works. The imposition of criminal sanction would ensure that those who committed a gross negligence resulting in danger and loss of lives would be subject not only to disciplinary action. It was a matter for the court to decide on penalty. The Administration remained of the view that criminal sanction was necessary to enhance site safety.

Members disagreed with Mr MAK over the assertion that there were fewer accidents occurring in public projects. Accidents did happen in both public projects and private sector projects. It would be unfair to penalize only the private sector. Mr Albert CHAN stated that the Democratic Party would not support the provisions for criminal sanction unless these applied equally to government projects. The Chairman reiterated that the imposition of criminal sanction itself would not necessarily improve site safety. Even if the Bill was passed, it would not take immediate effect until after TM was put in place in about a year’s time. He urged the Administration to review the situation in the meantime with a view to working out practical ways to bring the management of the private sector projects and public projects in line with each other.

Members agreed that Mr Edward HO would move a Committee Stage Amendment (CSA) on behalf of the Bills Committee to delete the clause about criminal sanction.

The Chairman concluded that a report on the deliberations of the Bills Committee would be made to the House Committee on 28 June 1996 to recommend that :

  1. the Bill be resumed its Second Reading debate on 10 July 1996;
  2. the Bill in its revised form, other than the clause about criminal sanction, be supported; and
  3. the clause about criminal sanction be deleted.

The attending professional institutions and associations indicated support for the Bills Committee’s recommendation.

The meeting closed at 9:30 a.m.

LegCo Secretariat

2 October 1996