Establishment Subcommittee

Record of Meeting held on 2 November 1995 at 10:45 a.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber


    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Non-ESC Member

    Hon IP Kwok-him


    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE

In attendance for specific items:

Mr Michael STONE, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (2)
Miss Yvonne CHOI Commissioner for Official Languages (Designate)
Mrs Margaret CHAN Principal Executive Officer of Civil Service Branch
Mr Patrick LAU Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (3)
Mrs Marion LAI Principal Assistant Secretary for the Civil Service
Mrs Mary SZETO Civil Service Training Director
Mr Peter NGUYEN, QC, JP Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Department
Mr Samuel LEUNG Deputy Crown Prosecutor, Legal Department
Mr J MCKINLEY Principal Assistant Secretary for Works
Dr E W BRAND, JP Director of Civil Engineering
Dr Iris BUDGE-REID Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
Mr Alfred WONG Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency
Mr W S TONG Assistant Director of Housing
Mr Daniel LEE Chief Building Services Engineer, Housing Department

In attendance:

Mr Alan LAI, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mrs Lilian WONG Principal Executive Officer (LegCo Unit), Finance Branch
Miss Pauline NG Assistant Secretary General
Mrs Constance LI Clerk to the Establishment Subcommittee
Mr Andy LAU Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)


Proposed hiving off of the Chinese Language Division from the Chief Secretary’s Office to form a new independent agency to be retitled as the Official Languages Agency on 1 April 1996 and changes in the directorate establishment in the Chinese Language Division under the Administration Wing, Chief Secretary’s Office

Members generally supported the Government’s policy to develop a biliterate (in English and Chinese) and trilingual (in English, Cantonese and Putonghua) civil service. Some Members however expressed concern about the possible decline in the standard of English as the emphasis had been placed on the provision of facilities and services for the wider use of Chinese in the civil service.

2. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (2) clarified that English had always been widely used within the government, and there was no intention to reduce or substitute the use of English with Chinese. The current proposal aimed at enhancing the co-ordination of efforts to promote the wider use of Chinese in the civil service and to improve the capability of civil servants in the use of Chinese in official correspondence. The Administration would continue to monitor the situation closely and to ensure that civil servants were competent in the use of both languages. Requirements for entry to the civil service would include both Chinese and English. In view of the long term commitment of the Government to develop a biliterate and trilingual civil service, the posts of the Commissioner for Official Languages and the Principal Chinese Language Officer ought to be created on a permanent basis.

3. As for additional staff required to support the three posts proposed in the paper to help implement the policy initiative of wider use of Chinese, the Principal Executive Officer of Civil Service Branch advised that three other non-directorate posts would be created through the Departmental Establishment Committee. On this point, Members requested that information on the staffing implications at non-directorate level in relation to the proposals in the Establishment Subcommittee (ESC) papers should also be spelt out in future. Members should be given a complete picture of the financial implications when they considered the proposals.


4. As regards a Member’s suggestion that the recommendations of the Working Group on the use of Chinese in the Civil Service should be further discussed at the Legislative Council Panel on Public Service, the Commissioner for Official Languages (Designate) said that the Panel had been briefed on the subject in the previous Legislative Council session. However, the Administration could arrange to brief any interested Members on the recommendations of the Working Group report.

5. This item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU abstained.


Proposed merger of the Civil Service Training Centre and the Senior Staff Course Centre to form the Civil Service Training and Development Institute with effect from 1 April 1996 and creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Civil Service Branch with effect from 1 January 1996

6. Mr CHEUNG Bing-leung declared an interest as an instructor for courses organised by the Civil Service Training Centre (CSTC) and the Senior Staff Course Centre (SSCC).

7. In response to Members’ questions on the cost benefits arising from the merger of CSTC and SSCC, the Civil Service Training Director (CSTD) advised that the merger was not intended primarily to save costs but to improve co-ordination of various training programmes, to maximise the use of training resources, and to allow a cross fertilisation of training expertise and ideas between CSTC and SSCC. The establishment of a central training entity would be more effective in monitoring and responding to the increasing training needs of the civil servants in the face of the changing environment. Upon merger, the new institute would also be able to enhance its services on China studies, languages and other related subjects in connection with the Public Sector Reform.

8. Members expressed doubts on the benefits of the merger as no specific plans to streamline services or to improve productivity were given in the paper. In response, CSTD reassured Members that the new Civil Service Training and Development Institute would review the situation after merger and examine the scope for streamlining where possible. There was a long term plan to put CSTC and SSCC under one roof when the new North Point Government Offices Building was completed in 1997. It was expected that part of the administrative costs would be saved.

9. CSTD advised that the number of trainees for CSTC had been increased from 19,000 in 1992/93 to 70,000 in 1995/96, with a corresponding rise in the annual budget from $50 million to $99 million. In view of the complexity and wide range of training responsibilities of the new institute, the Administration considered that it should be headed by an officer at D3 level.

10. On the question of additional staff at non-directorate level, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (3) advised that in connection with the proposal, one Chief Training Officer and one Personal Secretary I would be created, and some clerical posts could be upgraded through the Departmental Establishment Committee.

11. Members voted on the item: twelve Members voted for the proposal, one against and one abstained.


Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai Hon Margaret NG
Hon CHAN Wing-chan Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien

(12 Members)


on Emily LAU Wai-hing

(1 Member)


Hon James TIEN Pei-chun

(1 Member)

12. This item was endorsed.


Proposed creation of three permanent posts of Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DL2) in the Prosecutions Division of the Legal Department to cope with the increasing workload

13. Miss Margaret NG declared an interest as a member of the Hong Kong Bar Association.

14. Some Members noticed in the paper that a policy decision had been made by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to rely less on briefing out. They pointed out that neither LegCo Members nor the Hong Kong Bar Association were aware of this decision and they questioned if it was appropriate to make such a decision at this stage when a review on briefing out was still underway. They stressed that while the briefing-out arrangements were examined by a Panel in the previous LegCo session, Members were in support of the system of briefing out, but had suggested improvements to the budgetary control and procedures to ensure proper use of public monies.

15. In reply, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) explained that the Working Party chaired by him was only looking into the system and not the policy of briefing out. The Attorney General did mention at a meeting with Members (Public Accounts Committee Meeting on 20 May 1995) that they would like to see more counsel going to court. Therefore, since April 1995, AGC had made conscious efforts to rely less on briefing out. As a result, a saving of $1.1 million in the last six months (when compared to the previous six months) was achieved. He clarified that the policy of briefing out cases still remained but there was no set percentage of the number of cases to be briefed out.

16. In response to DPP’s remarks, Members stressed that the concern about briefing out had all along been focused on the management aspect, rather than the policy. Members considered that should a new policy be adopted, the relevant Panel ought to be consulted.

17. As regards the need for three additional directorate posts in the Legal Department, DPP explained that there had been no increase in the directorate establishment since 1988 despite the significant growth of workload. There was an urgent need to have additional posts to cope with the increased work, especially in the three sections dealing with the Bill of Rights, Commercial Crime and Independent Commission Against Corruption cases.

18. Members were generally of the view that it would not be appropriate to consider the proposal before the outcome of the briefing out review was available. There was also insufficient information in the paper on the overall workload of the Prosecution Division. In response to Members’ request, the Administration agreed to withdraw the item.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Engineer (D1) in the Civil Engineering Department to head a new Technical Services Division

19. In response to a Member’s question, the Director of Civil Engineering (DCE) advised that due to insufficient in-house resources, they had to rely on external consultants to take up some of the projects. He confirmed that the situation could be improved with the creation of the additional post. He would provide further information on this.


20. In reply to some Members, DCE confirmed that no additional non-directorate posts would be required in connection with the present proposal, except for the one additional section indicated on the proposed organisational chart in the paper. To enable Members to assess the overall financial implications of the Administration’s proposals, Members requested and the Administration agreed, that information on the related changes in non-directorate establishment and the financial implications should be included in future ESC papers.


21. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed increase in establishment ceiling of the Student Financial Assistance Agency to permit the creation of 18 non-directorate posts to carry out more detailed-vetting of applications under the Local Student Finance Scheme and to replace the temporary staff now hired for simple-vetting under the Scheme

22. Responding to a Member’s question on the justifications for the additional posts, the Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency advised that the proposal was to cope with the increase in applications received under the Local Student Finance Scheme. The additional staff would be fully deployed throughout the year to carry out detailed/simple vetting of applications and paying home visits to verify the applicants’ information. With the creation of these posts, temporary staff would no longer be required except to deal with any unexpected upsurge of applications.

23. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Building Services Engineer (D1) to head a new Building Services Section 2 of the Housing Department

24. The item was voted on and endorsed.

25. The meeting ended at 1.00 pm

Legislative Council Secretariat
22 November 1995

Last Updated on 27 November 1998