LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2571/96-97
[These minutes have been seen
by the Administration]
Bills Committee on Child Care Centres (Amendment) Bill 1996
Minutes of the Second Meeting on Wednesday, 16 April 1997 at 10:30 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
Dr Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
Public Officers Attending:
Clerk in Attendance:
- Mrs Mary TANG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)4
Staff in Attendance:
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Stanley MA
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 9
I.Meeting with the Administration
Members concurred that the concerns raised by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service were policy issues which were beyond the scope of the Bill. The Administration agreed to consider these issues upon the post-implementation review in the light of actual experience.
Fee charged by mutual help child care groups
2.Dr LAW Chi-kwong stated that he was satisfied with the Administrations proposal to amend section 11D(b)(ii) of the Bill by deleting "utility charges and food costs incurred in the operation of the centre" and substituting "reasonable costs directly incurred in the operation of the centre, except for rent and rates". In response to Dr LAWs further question on the implications of the phrase "except for rent and rates", the Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Welfare) (PAS/HWW) explained that "mutual help child care group" (MHCCG) was, by definition, a group established by a bona-fide non-profit-making organization and operated on a non-profit-making basis for the purpose of providing occasional care and supervision of the children of members of the group. She added that a MHCCG normally operated in the premises of its parent organization whose rates and rent were already subvented by Government. Where this was not the case, the parent organization or the organizers of MHCCG could apply to the Director of the Social Welfare (DSW) for reimbursement of rent and rates paid for the occupation of the premises for the purpose. She stated that the intention of the Administration by including the phrase "except for rent and rates" in section 11D(b)(ii) of the Bill was to ensure that such expenses should not be borne by parents of the children under the care of MHCCGs.
Playgroups organized by groups of mothers
3.Dr LEONG Che-hung pointed out that it was common practice for groups of mothers to organize playgroups for their children and to take turns in caring for each others children. He was concerned whether the provisions of the Bill would apply in these cases. Representatives of the Administration explained that child care groups did not have to register if not more than five children were cared for. Moreover, if the activities were organized on an ad hoc basis and did not take place at a fixed premises they would not be regarded as a child care centre for the purposes of the Ordinance. Under the Ordinance, a child care centre referred to any premises at which more than five children who were under the age of six years were habitually received for the purpose of care and supervision during part of the day or for longer periods. Hence, unless these playgroups were organized habitually and at the same premsies for groups of more than five children under six years old, they would not need to register as a child care centre nor was there a need to apply for exemption as a mutual help child care centre (MHCCC). In cases where these playgroups wished to organize activities habitually at a fixed premises, they would have to register as a bona fide non-profit-making organization and apply for exemption as a MHCCC.
|4. In response to members request, the Administration undertook to publicize the issue so that groups of mothers as well as organizers and parents organizations of MHCCGs would be made aware of their obligations to comply with the provisions of the Ordinance in the formation of child care groups. At the request of the Chairman, the Administration also agreed to review the criteria for exemption from the requirement for registration of Child Care Centres (CCC) at a later stage.||Adm|
Definition of non-profit-making organization
5. Dr LEONG enquired on the definition of a bona fide non-profit-making organization as quoted in section 11A of the Bill. PAS/HWW replied that they were charitable bodies defined and registered under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap 112).
Liabilities for injuries caused to the children within a CCC or MHCCC
|6. In response to members concern whether the organizers of MHCCC would be held responsible for injuries caused to the children at the centres, representatives of the Administration explained that the organizers would be liable for those injuries caused to the children as a result of breach of their duty of care to children accommodated at the centre. The parent organization would unlikely be held responsible for injuries caused to the children provided that it had taken such care and precautions to avoid the risk of injury to the children that a reasonable and prudent person would have taken in running the MHCCC. In response to members request, the Administration agreed to ensure the incorporation of appropriate provisions in the operational guidelines for MHCCC to alert organizers and parent organizations of such legal requirements.||Adm|
Minimum supervision requirement
|7.The Chairman invited members comments on the proposal that at least two adults were required to man the MHCCC at any time when more than two children were present. Members had no objection. The Administration agreed to prepare related amendments to the Child Care Centres Regulation (Cap 243 sub. leg.) after the Bill had been passed by LegCo.||Adm|
Fire and structural safety and hygiene standards of MHCCC
8.Members went over the nine items as tabulated in the summary of requirements regarding fire and structural safety and hygiene standards for CCC and MHCCC (LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1840/96-97). Seeing that the maximum number of children cared at a MHCCC was set at 14 while that at a CCC was calculated in accordance with the floor area of the premises, the Chairman enquired whether a standard space requirement per child would be set for MHCCC. Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Family and Child Welfare) replied that a net area of 1.5 sq m per child would be specified in the relevant section of the operational guidelines for such purpose.
Offences relevant to meaning of "Prohibited Person"
|9. The Chairman asked Assistant Legal Adviser 3 (ALA3) whether she was satisfied with the Administrations responses to the points she raised in her letter of 4 September 1996 (LegCo Paper No. CB(2)1488/96-97). ALA3 replied that she had clarified the points with the Administration and found the main text of the Bill in order. She added that she would further collaborate with the Administration on the list of offences relevant to the meaning of "Prohibited Person" and the necessary Committee stage amendments. She also pointed out that the main intention of the Bill was to require persons who habitually, and not those who occasionally, undertook childminding duties as defined in the Bill to obtain a certificate from the DSW to verify that he or she was not prohibited from acting as a childminder.||ALA3/Adm|
II.Clause by clause examination of the Bill
Clause 6 - Prohibition of unregistered child care centres
|10. Members requested the Administration to arrange suitable publicity programmes to ensure that groups of mothers who habitually took turns to look after their children of age below six at the same premises were well aware of the requirements of the Child Care Centres Ordinance (Cap 243) before the effective date of the Bill. The Administration undertook to follow up the matter.||Adm|
Clause 11 - Inspection of child care centres
11. Dr LEONG enquired whether a special programme had been developed for on-going inspection of CCC and MHCCC. Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Family and Child Welfare) replied that upon receipt of an application from a prospective CCC or MHCCC, DSW would arrange inspection of the proposed premises for full compliance with the basic requirements stipulated under the Child Care Centres Ordinance (Cap 243) before granting a license or an exemption from registration. She added that additional manpower had been provided for at a target frequency of two annual inspections for each MHCCC. As for CCC, she said inspections were conducted more frequently and the frequency of inspections might vary with different CCC.
Clause 10 section 11D - Revocation of exemption
12. As agreed, the Administration would substitute the phrase "utility charges and food costs incurred in the operation of the centre" by "reasonable costs directly incurred in the operation of the centre, except for rent and rates" in section 11D (b) (ii). Members accepted the amendment.
Clause 18 - Schedule added
|13. The Administration would continue to collaborate with ALA3 on the amendments to be made to the Schedule and undertook to prepare relevant Committee stage amendments which would be circulated to members as soon as practicable.||Adm|
14.The meeting ended at 11:45 a.m.
Legislative Council Secretariat
4 June 1997
Last Updated on 15 December 1998