PLC Paper No. CB(1) 128
(These minutes have been seen by the
Administration and cleared with the Chairman)
Ref: CB1/BC/37/95/1

Bills Committee on Dogs and Cats (Amendment) Bill 1996

Minutes of the Meeting
held on Wednesday, 4 June 1997,
at 8:30 am in Conference Room B
of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka (Chairman)
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

Public officers attending :

Mr E A Johnson
Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
Assistant Director of Agriculture and Fisheries
Dr L Sims
Senior Veterinary Officer
Agriculture and Fisheries Department
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman

Clerk in attendance :

Ms Estella CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4

Staff in attendance :

Mr Jonathan Daw
Consultant (Legal Service)
Mr Daniel HUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)7

I. Discussion with the Administration

Procedures for approving the Dangerous Dogs Regulation (the Regulation)

In response to members’ suggestion at the last meeting, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services (PAS/ES) said that the Administration considered there to be no reason for the "positive vetting procedure" to apply to the making of regulations on dogs and cats. The procedure was more appropriate to proposed regulations where, say, funding was involved. The Senior Assistant Law Draftsman (SALD) said that the "negative vetting procedure" was adopted in the majority of cases for subsidiary legislation with a view to streamlining the process.

2. The Consultant (Legal Service) (CONS/LS) advised that the "positive vetting procedure" did not necessarily apply to funding proposals only. As the control requirements on dogs were included in the Regulation rather than the Bill, members of the future Legislature might require more time for scrutiny of the Regulation. Moreover, the "positive vetting procedure" would not necessarily cause delay to approval of the Regulation. Under the positive vetting procedure, the Administration would give notice to move a motion for approval of a subsidiary legislation and the House Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) would have 21 days to decide whether it was necessary to request deferral of the motion. On LegCo Members’ request, the motion could be deferred and a Subcommittee set up to deliberate the policy issues in detail. If there was no controversy on the motion, a subsidiary legislation could be approved even more quickly under the "positive vetting procedure" than the "negative vetting procedure". The system of "positive vetting" of subsidiary legislation had worked well and there had not been any case of unnecessary delays.

3. PAS/ES advised that the Administration had conducted extensive public consultation before preparing the Regulation and there should not be any need for LegCo to further consult the public before approving the Regulation. The "negative vetting procedure" was therefore appropriate for the Regulation. The Chairman opined that despite consultations carried out by the Administration, LegCo might still want to consult interested parties in view of the wide implication of the Regulation.

4. Mr CHAN Kam-lam enquired about the possibility of dividing the Regulation into two parts, each to be subject to a different vetting procedure. CONS/LS advised that this approach although technically feasible was not advisable because it might be difficult for the public to comprehend the differentiation.

5. Members agreed to amend clause 5 of the Bill to provide that regulation made under the clause would be subject to the "positive vetting procedure". If the Administration was not agreeable to this amendment, CONS/LS would prepare the necessary Committee stage amendment to be moved by the Bills Committee.

Physical constraint measures for specified dogs in public places

6. PAS/ES advised that the Administration had considered members’ proposal to use size rather than breed as the criterion for applying physical constraint measures to dogs in public places, and agreed that it was feasible to amend the Regulation accordingly. Under this amendment, the schedule of "potentially dangerous dogs" would be deleted and provisions would be made to subject any breed of dog exceeding a specified body weight to the required physical constraint measures in public places. He drew members’ attention to the implication that this amendment would subject many more dogs to such control in public places.

7. The Assistant Director of Agriculture and Fisheries (AD/AF) recommended that dogs with a body weight exceeding 20 kilograms (kg) should be subject to physical constraint measures in public places. Twenty kg was the average weight of a medium sized Chow cross. There was no need for a height criterion as a weight criterion was considered sufficient in defining the size of a dog. Moreover, there would be practical difficulties in measuring the height of a dog. The Administration agreed that dogs over 20 kg should be on a leash and muzzled in indoor public places. However, if such dogs were in outdoor public places, they should only be kept on a leash. The Senior Veterinary Officer (Agriculture and Fisheries Department) (SVO/AFD) advised that it had been mentioned in international literature that dogs should never be muzzled without a leash because a muzzled dog could die of hunger if it was deserted.

8. Members agreed with the Administration’s proposals in principle but requested that in view of the much wider implications of putting all breeds of dogs exceeding 20 kg under the required physical constraint measures, the Administration should consult the public widely and consider views of various concern groups before making the Regulation.

9. As to whether new provisions should be included to allow dogs to be subject to less physical constraint measures in certain areas of country parks, AD/AF said that there would be enforcement problems for the proposal as a dog not on a leash could easily wander outside the specified area. SVO/AFD supplemented that some concern groups had expressed concern about large dogs running free in country parks.

10. PAS/ES commented that physical constraint measures on dogs should be applied in country parks as well as in urban areas because country parks were designed for people’s relaxation and enjoyment. Allowing large dogs to run free in country parks would not be acceptable to the majority of the public.

11. The Chairman enquired about the practicability of exempting dogs from physical constraint measures in clearly defined areas of country parks, for example, two kilometers beyond barbecue areas or playgrounds. CONS/LS advised that this could be done in terms of drafting but there would be practical difficulties in enforcement as people might argue that they could not possibly know the delineation of the specified area. Mr CHAN Kam-lam considered it necessary to apply physical constraint measures on dogs in all outdoor public places in Hong Kong. The Chairman urged the Administration to further consider the issue and conduct public consultation in this respect.

II. Clause-by-clause examination of the Bill

Clauses 1-3

12. Members had no particular comments.

Clause 4

13. CONS/LS sought the Administration’s confirmation that provisions in the Bill were not in conflict with the Rabies Ordinance (Cap. 421). SALD advised that the Administration had reviewed provisions in the Rabies Ordinance before drafting the Bill to ensure that there was no conflict between the two pieces of legislation.

Clause 5

14. SALD advised that the expression "public places" in section 3(1)(g) would be amended to "any specified place" because "public places" had a specific definition in the Regulation. In addition, provisions for weighing and measuring dogs were required in section 3(1)(j) and 3(2)(c) to allow specification in the Regulation control measures for dogs over a certain weight.

Clause 6

15. Members had no particular comments.

Clause 7

16. The Chairman noted that specific authorization from the Director of Agriculture and Fisheries would be required before a person or an authorized officer could perform duties under the Ordinance and enquired whether a staff identity card would amount to specific authorization. CONS/LS advised that an ordinary staff identity card was not specific authorization. AD/AF supplemented that the authorization would specify the relevant section of the Ordinance under which the person or officer was authorized to perform the duties.

17. CONS/LS enquired about the reason for authorizing "any person" instead of "officer" to perform duties under section 5A. AD/AF advised that this was to cater for authorization of persons who were not civil servants in carrying out specialized duties, such as implanting microchips in dogs.

Clause 8

18. The Chairman enquired about the reason for empowering a police officer to detain a person rather than a dog in the enforcement of section 6(2)(c) in the amended Ordinance. AD/AF advised that it was necessary to provide authority to police officers to detain a person in order to facilitate such operations as searching of premises, etc. SALD supplemented that this type of authorization to police officers was common in other ordinances with the aim of facilitating police operations. Moreover, detentions under the section could be made only until the search had been completed.

19. CONS/LS enquired whether greater power was given to the authority to destroy dogs under the Bill as compared with the provision in the Rabies Ordinance. SALD advised that the power provided for destruction of dogs in the Bill had been compared with that provided for in the Rabies Ordinance. The Bill also provided a mechanism under which a dog owner could appeal against the decision to destroy a dog. This was an improvement on existing legislation.

20. The Chairman enquired about the possibility of improving the definition of "serious bodily injury" in clause 8(c) of the Bill. He was concerned that the term "laceration which requires multiple sutures or cosmetic surgery" would be subject to interpretation. CONS/LS advised that the definition of serious bodily injury was provided for the circumstances under which police officers could go into premises other than domestic premises without a warrant. It was therefore desirable for the definition to be easily applicable. SALD agreed to consider raising this aspect for further policy consideration.

Clause 9

21. Members had no particular comments.

Clause 10

22. The Chairman enquired about the reason for addressing the notice under section 10(2) of the amended Ordinance to the keeper in the case of a dog or cat, but to the owner in the case of "any other thing". AD/AF advised that as defined in the Bill, a keeper of a dog included the owner of the dog. The term "any other thing" in the section referred to things other than dogs or cats, the reference therefore had to be related to its "owner".

Clauses 11-19

23. Members had no particular comments.

Committee stage amendments

24. The Chairman requested the Administration to prepare the necessary Committee stage amendments in consultation with CONS/LS. A verbal report on the Bills Committee’s deliberation would be given to the House Committee at its meeting on 6 June 1997, recommending resumption of Second Reading debate on 23 June 1997. The deadline for giving notice to move CSAs was on 13 June 1997.

    (Post-meeting note : The CSAs prepared by the Administration have been circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1851/96-97 dated 12 June 1997.)

25. The meeting ended at 10:35 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
11 August 1997

Last Updated on 11 December 1998