COMMITTEE ON MEMBERS' INTERESTS
Notes of the meeting held on Friday, 15 December 1995
at 9:00 a.m. in Conference Room A, Legislative Council Building
- Hon Mrs. Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)
- Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
- Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
- Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
- Hon Mrs. Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP
- Hon YUM Sin-ling
- Mr. Jimmy MA
- Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
- Mr. LAW Wing-lok (Secretary)
- Clerk to the Committee on Members' Interests
- Mr. K.S. LAW
- Deputy Secretary General
- Mr. K.K. HO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (Council Business)1
Absent with apologies:
Hon LIU Sing-lee
Members agreed that a note should be included in the Guidelines on Registration of Interests to draw LegCo Members' attention that members of the public might make copies of the registration form submitted by LegCo Members. The wording of the note should be amended as follows-
"......... Members of the public may also make copies of the form in the Legislative Council Secretariat upon payment of charges."
2. Members agreed that LegCo Members should put down their full name on each and every page of the form in order to avoid confusion and that LegCo Members should continue to sign the last page of the form as at present. Members also agreed that LegCo Members might simply sign and submit individual pages to report changes in registrable interests which occurred within a session instead of submitting the whole set of the registration form.
3. SALA drew members' attention to the proposed changes to the Chinese translation of SO 65 (1B) stated in item (3) of Section III of the Guidelines on Registration of Interests (Revised). The proposed wording might have the effect of widening the meaning of the English version. After discussion, members considered it more appropriate to retain the existing wording . The Chinese translation of SO 65 (1B) should therefore be amended as follows-
Members noted that the Chinese version of the Standing Orders had yet to be authenticated.
4. Members noted that the provision in SO 64A(4)(h) concerning registration of land and property applied to LegCo Members only and did not apply to land and property owned by their spouse.
5. The Chairman said that the revised Guidelines and the Registration Form incorporating the amendments agreed would be submitted to the President for approval before adoption.
(Post-meeting note: The President has recently reconsidered the Chinese translation of "Clerk to the Legislative Council" and decided that should continue to be adopted. Thus the term proposed in various places in the Chinese version of the Guidelines would not be used.)
6. The Chairman referred to LegCo Paper No. CB 263/95-96 which set out background information on a study previously conducted by the Committee regarding the introduction of measures to monitor the conduct of LegCo Members. The Chairman expressed her disappointment that the package of proposals drawn up by the Committee was rejected by the Council at its sitting on 19 July 1995 in the 1994/95 session.
7. The Chairman asked members to consider whether the Committee should pursue the issue again in the current session in view of the change in the membership of the Council consequent upon the election of new Members. There were three options open to the Committee: (a) shelving of the proposal for the time being in the light of the Council's decision in the last session; (b) issuing a set of advisory guidelines on the conduct of LegCo Members under SO 60B(1)(d); and (c) re-submitting the package of proposals to the House Committee and the Council for consideration.
8. In response to members, SALA said that the Committee might, under SO60B (1)(d), issue guidelines on matters of ethics in relation to the conduct of LegCo Members in their capacity as such. However the Committee could not, under the existing provisions of SO 60B(1), carry out investigation into any alleged breach of the guidelines or make recommendations regarding sanctions to be imposed.
9. Mrs. Elizabeth WONG said that she was in favour of issuing a set of guidelines to LegCo Members even though the Committee was not empowered to investigate and make recommendations regarding sanctions. The guidelines would still serve as a useful reference by LegCo Members as well as by the public regarding certain basic standards of conduct to be observed by LegCo Members. Mr. YUM Sin-ling shared Mrs. WONG's viewpoint.
10. Miss Emily LAU was of the view that with the change in the membership of the Council in the current session, this important issue should be debated again and LegCo Members' viewpoints properly recorded. She suggested that the package of proposals previously drawn up by the Committee should be re-submitted to the House Committee and the Council for consideration. Should the package of proposals be rejected by the Council again, the Committee could then consider issuing advisory guidelines.
11. Mr. Michael HO expressed reservations about re-submitting the package of proposals to the House Committee and the Council. In his view, the proposed guidelines on standards of conduct were vague and would be open to different interpretation depending on the individual's value system. He also felt that investigation of a complaint of a Member's alleged misconduct would adversely affect the Member concerned even though the complaint was not substantiated after investigation. He was therefore not in favour of issuing any guidelines or setting up any mechanism to monitor the conduct of LegCo Members.
12. Mr. NGAN Kam-chuen considered that LegCo Members were subject to public scrutiny and they would not welcome the establishment of any mechanism under which their conduct would be monitored by their peers. There would inevitably be grey areas in any guidelines drawn up which would be subject to argument. Furthermore, he was concerned that the guidelines might be manipulated to discredit other LegCo Members. Even without the guidelines, LegCo Members would always ask themselves whether their conduct in their capacity as LegCo Member was proper as they were accountable to the public.
13. After further discussion, the Chairman asked members to indicate whether the recommendations set out in LegCo Paper No. CB 258/95-96 regarding the introduction of measures to monitor the conduct of LegCo Members should be re-submitted to the House Committee and the Council for consideration. Miss Emily LAU, Mrs. Elizabeth WONG, and Mr. YUM Sin-ling voted in favour of this course of action, while Mr. HO Mun-ka and Mr. NGAN Kam-chuen voted against it.
14. The Chairman also asked members whether, in the event of the Council rejecting the recommendations again, they would support the Committee issuing advisory guidelines without investigatory powers. Miss Emily LAU, Mr. NGAN Kam-chuen, Mrs. Elizabeth WONG, and Mr. Yum Sin-ling voted in support of this option. Mr. HO Mun-ka voted against it.
15. The meeting agreed that the public and LegCo Members should be invited to give their views on the Committee's recommendations set out in LegCo Paper No. CB 258/95-96 before the end of January 1996. A meeting would then be held in early February to discuss any submissions received.
(Action: The Clerk)
16. The next meeting of the Committee would be held in public on Tuesday, 6 February 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
17. The meeting ended at 10:10 a.m.
Last Updated on 23 Jul, 1996