LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1941/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/36/95
Bills Committee on Veterinary Surgeons Registration Bill
Minutes of Meeting
held on Monday, 26 May 1997,
at 10:30 am in the Legislative Council Chamber
Hon LAW Chi-kwong (Chairman)
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Members absent :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public Officers attending:
Mr E A Johnson
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
Mr K K LIU
- Assistant Director (Agriculture & Regulation)
- Agriculture and Fisheries Department
Dr R B Bousefield
- Senior Veterinary Officer
- Agriculture and Fisheries Department
Mr W B Maddaford
- Senior Assistant Law Draftsman
- Legal Department
Attendance by invitation :
- The Hong Kong Veterinary Association
Mr Conan P Y CHAU
Mr Anthony E James
- China (HK) Veterinary Association
Mr CHENG Pak-keung
- Vice President
Ms CHOW Ka-wai
Mr LIU Hon-choi
Mr Alex LI Hang-Nin
- Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong)
Ms Cynthia Smillie
- Deputy Executive Director
- The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Dr Keith Lyndhurst Watkins
- Senior Veterinary Surgeon
Dr Lawrence CHAN Wai-him
- Veterinary Surgeon
- Consumer Council
Mr CHAN Wing-kai
- Chief Compaints & Advice Officer
- Green Cross Veterinary Clinics
Dr Anthony A Holmes
- Veterinary Surgeon
- Ocean Park
Ms Reime E Kinoshita
- Chief Veterinarian
Clerk in attendance:
Ms Estella CHAN
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4
Staff in attendance :
Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
Ms YUE Tin-po
- Senior Assistant Secretary (1)6 (Atg)
I.Confirmation of minutes
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1660/96-97]
The minutes of the meeting held on 23 April 1997 were confirmed.
II. Discussion with deputations
The Hong Kong Veterinary Association
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(01)]
2.Mr Anthony E James presented the views of the Hong Kong Veterinary Association (HKVA) as contained in its submission.
3.HKVA supported the Bill and the establishment of the Veterinary Surgeons Board (the Board) since the existing legislation did not provide for maintenance and regulation of the standard of veterinary surgeons practising in Hong Kong. The enactment of the Bill was in the interests of animal welfare, the veterinary profession and consumer protection. It also believed that the Board would address the qualification issue in an open, transparent and fair manner. HKVA proposed that the veterinary surgeons on the Board should possess internationally recognised degrees. Furthermore, it was important for there to be no vacuum in veterinary services between the time of enacting the Bill and registration of veterinary surgeons by the Board. In this connection, HKVA requested the Administration to make provisions for the transition period.
China (HK) Veterinary Association
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(02)]
4.Representatives of the China (HK) Veterinary Association (CHKVA) presented the views of CHKVA as contained in its submission.
5.CHKVA supported the introduction of the Bill and the establishment of the Board. It suggested that practising veterinary surgeons, who were not members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS), should also be considered for registration as registered veterinary surgeons. In addition, veterinary surgeons holding degrees in veterinary science from Commonwealth universities and those holding similar degrees from non-Commonwealth universities should have equal representation on the Board. CHKVA observed that the wastage rate of veterinary surgeons engaged from overseas was very high. Under the circumstances, localisation of veterinary surgeons was recommended as this would protect the rights of veterinary surgeons who were Hong Kong permanent residents.
6.CHKVA drew members attention to clause 16(1)(b) which it considered was misleading as it implied that veterginary surgeons who were MRCVS would have the privilege to practise veterinary surgery or provide veterinary service in Hong Kong without going through the registration process after enactment of the Bill. CHKVA also suggested deletion of clause 16(2) because it appeared to provide an exemption whereby veterinary surgeons from certain countries might be allowed to practise in Hong Kong without passing relevant examinations and assessments.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong)
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(03)]
7.Ms Cynthia Smillie presented the views of the Society for the Prevention of Curelty to Animals (Hong Kong) (SPCA) as contained in its submission.
8.SPCA supported the Bill since it was essential to regulate and control the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery in Hong Kong. It would also protect consumers rights, and welfare and health of animals. The legislation would ensure that standards in the veterinary profession were not only maintained but improved. Although the veterinary profession should be opened to persons who held qualifications in veterinary science from universities in China and Taiwan, SPCA was of the view that the Board should not include veterinary surgeons who did not meet the qualification standard which was at least equivalent to that accepted internationally.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(04)]
9.Dr Keith Lyndhurst Watkins presented to members the views of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC).
10.HKJC supported the Bill and hoped that it could be enacted as soon as possible to ensure that standards of veterinary services in Hong Kong were properly maintained. As regards the composition of the Board, HKJC expected that each of the six veterinary surgeons should hold a recognised degree with a standard equivalent to that of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This was the minimum requirement currently acceptable for practising veterinary medicine and surgery in HKJC.
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(05)]
11.Mr CHAN Wing-kai presented the views of Consumer Council (CC) as contained in its submission.
12.CC suggested that membership of the Board should be expanded and that the proportion of independent individuals representing public interest should constitute at least one-third of the membership. Mr CHAN also considered it desirable for the Administration to clarify clause 24(3) regarding whether a registered veterinary surgeon could carry on business of veterinary practice or service under his/her supervision concurrently in more than one locations.
Green Cross Veterinary Clinics
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(07)]
13.Dr Anthony A Holmes presented to members the views of Green Cross Veterinary Clinics (GCVC). GCVC shared the views of HKVA and SPCA that the proposed legislation would uphold the qualifications and standards of veterinary surgeons who had registered to work in Hong Kong. It agreed with HKVA that there should be no vacuum in the provision of veterinary services between the time of enacting the Bill and registration of veterinary surgeons by the Board. GCVC considered that the Bill should be passed without further delay and believed that the Board would render appropriate advice to Government in respect of professional conduct and discipline of registered veterinary surgeons in Hong Kong.
[LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1680/96-97(10)]
14.Ms Reimi E Kinoshita presented the views of the Ocean Park (OP) as contained in its submission.
15.OP supported the Bill since it would ensure a high standard of veterinary medicine and surgery in Hong Kong. Ms Kinoshita pointed out that in clause 3 of the Bill, it was unclear whether the six persons who were veterinary surgeons to be appointed to the Board should be "registered veterinary surgeons".
III.Discussion with the Administration
[LegCo Paper No.CB(1) 1689/96-97]
16.At the Chairmans invitation, the Principal Assistant Secretary/Economic Services (PAS/ES) elaborated on the Administrations response to the deputations submissions, as contained in the information paper.
Composition of the Veterinary Surgeons Board
17.Responding to some members question as to whether the Administration would consider the proposal of CHKVA concerning equal representation of Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth veterinary surgeons on the Board, PAS/ES advised that according to clause 3(2)(c) of the Bill, the Board should include six persons who were veterinary surgeons, all of whom were to be appointed by the Secretary for Economic Services (SES). Suitability for appointment to the Board would be assessed on the basis of a persons professional training, practical experience and personal standing, rather than by reference to specific qualifications such as MRCVS. There was no pre-determined ratio of membership of any particular group within the profession.
18.Members noted the Administrations intention for the six veterinary surgeons to be appointed to the Board to be "registered veterinary surgeons" after implementation of the registration process. In order to bring it in line with other legislation on professional registration, they suggested inclusion of a provision in the Bill at the outset to explicitly address the issue. The Administration undertook to consider the suggestion.
19.Mr Mok Ying-fan shared CCs views for the membership of the Board to be expanded and for the proportion of independent individuals representing public interest to constitute at least one-third of the membership. The Chairman suggested that out of the three lay members, one should be a medical practitioner or pharmacist and two should be users or consumers of veterinary services. This could ensure that persons utilizing veterinary services had a voice in the Board. He commented that 20% representation from the lay member category was consistent with similar provisions in other professional registration ordinances. Members supported the Chairmans proposal and requested the Administration to review the provision. PAS/ES remarked that the flexibility to determine the ratio of membership in this respect should rest with SES. Nevertheless, the Administration undertook to review the matter.
Qualifications for registration as a registered veterinary surgeon
20.Members shared the views of CHKVA for persons who were bachelor degree holders in veterinary science from non-Commonwealth universities to be considered by SES for membership on the Board. Furthermore, the privilege currently enjoyed by MRCVS as the only qualified veterinary surgeons in Hong Kong should be discontinued. PAS/ES responded that it would be the duty of the Board to define the standards of qualifications to be recognised, ascertain which qualifications met the standard, determine and establish how holders of qualifications from different parts of the world could be admitted. He added that all comments received from relevant parties would be submitted to the Board for consideration. He had confidence that the Board would address the qualifications issue in an open, transparent, fair and non-discriminatory manner.
21.The Chairman enquired whether the parties consulted had reached a consensus on the qualification standards for registration as a registered veterinary surgeon and whether it was possible for Government to prescribe the details in the Bill. PAS/ES replied that there was no consensus reached among the consulted parties. Veterinary surgeons who were MRCVS supported the establishment of the Board, and were in favour of an open registration system provided that high standards could be maintained. He reiterated that the Board was empowered to define the qualification standards for registration but not the Government.
22.Members found it difficult to deliberate the issue since the Bill did not prescribe the qualifications for practising veterinary surgery. They had yet to be convinced that qualification standards to be recognised could be defined in the best interest of practising veterinary surgeons and the public. In this connection, they considered it important for the Board to have a balanced representation of different viewpoints across the whole spectrum of the veterinary profession, with significant input from persons utilizing veterinary services. They also reckoned that qualifications to be accepted should be predetermined by the Board for the purpose of registration and requested the Administration to review the matter.
(Post-meeting note : The Administrations response to members suggestion together with revised Committee stage amendments were circulated vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1707/96-97 dated 27 May 1997.)
23.Concerning CHKVAs suggestion to include a provision that "the Board only registers lawful residents of Hong Kong", the Assistant Director (Agriculture & Regulation) advised that only the professional standards of a veterinary surgeon would be considered for registration in the context of the Bill, irrespective of the residence status of the person in Hong Kong. He advised that no such provision was stipulated in similar legislation of other countries. PAS/ES remarked that the suggestion contrasted with the purpose of the Bill which aimed to remove restrictions imposed by the existing legislation.
24.Members noted the Administrations explanations in respect of clauses 2, 16, 17, 18, 24 and 29 as contained in the information paper and made no further comments. They also noted the revised consequential amendments to the Antibiotics Ordinance and Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance and had no objection.
IV.Date of next meeting
25.Members agreed to re-schedule the next meeting from 28 May 1997 at 8:30 am to 2 June 1997 at 10:30am.
(Post-meeting note : Due to clashes with other meetings, the decision to re-schedule the meeting had been reverted with the concurrence of the Chairman.)
26.The meeting ended at 12:35 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
26 June 1997
Last Updated on 11 December 1998