Establishment Subcommittee

Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting held on
8 May 1996 at 10:45 a.m. in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members Present :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Members Absent :

    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Peter NGUYEN, QC, JP Director of Public Prosecutions
Mr Samuel LEUNG Deputy Crown Prosecutor
Miss Denise YUE, JP Secretary for Trade and Industry
Mr K K WONG Principal Executive Officer, Trade and Industry Branch
Mr Nicholas NG, JP Secretary for Constitutional Affairs
Mr Mike WATERS Deputy Political Adviser
Mr Daniel MAK Chief Executive Officer, Chief Secretary’s Office

In Attendance :

Mr Kevin HO, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Mike STONE, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
Miss Pauline NG Assistant Secretary General
Mrs Constance LI Clerk to the Establishment Subcommittee
Mr Andy LAU Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)


Proposed creation of two permanent posts of Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DL2) in the Prosecutions Division of the Legal Department to cope with the growing volume of work

As the present proposal sought the creation of only two permanent posts of Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DPCC) to cope with increased workload of the sections dealing with commercial crime and Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) cases, a member asked whether the third post originally proposed in EC(95-96)22 for the Bill of Rights (BOR) cases was still required. In reply, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) advised that as the number of BOR cases had decreased recently, the workload could be absorbed by temporary staff re-deployment. In response to a member, he agreed to provide further information on the number of BOR cases and the average processing time for such cases.


2. On the time taken to process the commercial crime and ICAC cases, DPP advised that it depended very much on the nature of each case; but with the additional resources, the department would be able to give advice on those cases within 14 and 16 days respectively, which represented a 25% reduction in average processing time. In this connection, DPP assured members that his counsel would not sacrifice quality for efficiency.

3. In reply to a member, DPP clarified that the proposed posts would not have any direct impact on the briefing-out policy, as the posts were to supervise the increased activities of the respective sections and to offer advice rather than taking up the prosecution work. The department had estimated that about 20% of the cases would need to be briefed out to the private Bar annually.

4. Members also raised questions on the workload statistics of the Prosecution Division, particularly on the reduction of the number of court days in recent years. In response, DPP explained that despite some minor fluctuations, the statistics showed a general increase in the number of cases processed since 1989, mainly due to the enactment of new legislation in connection with the BOR, asset recovery and commercial crime. Moreover, the increased complexity of these cases also required longer processing time. In this respect, he noted members’ concern about the voluminous papers in these cases, and that only the necessary documentary evidence should be presented to court to economise on court time. On the forecast increase in election corruption cases, DPP advised that there were on-going cases under ICAC investigation, and the extension of the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Ordinance to cover Village Representative elections in 1998 would also result in more cases. He also said that Legal Department’s input was required for election-related corruption cases even years after the election as the ICAC investigations would take some time to complete.

5. On the suggestion of creating one DPCC post instead of two, DPP advised that in that case the department would only be able to achieve half of the target improvements, and it would not be in the public interest that the cases should suffer a longer processing time due to resource constraints.

6. After discussion, the item was put to vote and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU had reservation on the proposal.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Geneva Office and deletion of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the London Office under Head 96

7. In response to a member’s question, the Secretary for Trade and Industry (STI) advised that the charter of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) did not prohibit any economic entity like Hong Kong joining as a member. However, having regard to the Government’s present commitments in participating in the various international trade organisations, it was considered more appropriate for Hong Kong to remain as an observer on OECD Trade Committee. There was so far no difficulty for Hong Kong to renew its observer status in OECD annually. She further advised that OECD initiatives were often followed up in other international trade organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) in which Hong Kong participated as member. This should adequately serve to promote Hong Kong’s economic and trade interest overseas.

8. On the proposed ranking of the post in Geneva Office, STI advised that the nature of the post required an officer of sufficient maturity and experience in administration and trade matters to facilitate exchange of views with the senior government representatives in OECD. The additional directorate support was also to cope with the increased workload in relation to OECD and WTO activities which had become more complex and technical in recent years.

9. As regards the proposal to delete an Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (AOSGC) post in the London Office as a result of its transformation into a standard Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO), STI advised that activities not related to trade and economic matters would gradually be trimmed down. Services to Hong Kong students would therefore be confined to regular liaison with the education institutions in the United Kingdom.

10. On the difference in salaries for the locally-engaged Personal Secretary posts in the Geneva and London Offices, STI advised that the salaries took into consideration the variation in the costs of living and the local labour market in these countries. She undertook to provide information on the salary scale of the Personal Secretary posts in these two offices.


11. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed -

(a) creation of three permanent posts of Administrative Officer Staff Grade A (D6) offset by the deletion of two posts of Secretary, Government Secretariat (D8) and one post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) in the Overseas Offices of the Trade and Industry Branch; and

(b)extension of the approved flexible ranking system in the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices to all Directorate Head and Deputy Head posts

12. In response to members’ comments that the existing D8 post for the Washington Office was unjustified, STI advised that, with the present ranking of the post, the incumbent was able to establish contacts with the influential and senior congressional and business leaders in the USA. The senior status of the Commissioner, USA also facilitated access to senior editors and editorial boards of major media organisations. With the improved co-ordination and effectiveness of the three ETOs in USA, the Government now considered that a D6 ranking of the Commissioner post would be able to maintain the same level of access established.

13. On the re-ranking of the post of the Commissioner, London to D6, STI advised that a senior government official would be required to monitor the progress and anchor bilateral discussions on the various sensitive issues between Hong Kong and London during the transitional period. The proposed ranking had taken into consideration UK’s commercial presence and investment in Hong Kong.

14. As regards the proposed upgrading of the post of the Principal Representative (PR) in Tokyo from D4 to D6, STI advised that the existing ranking was no longer commensurate with the increased responsibilities of the PR in Tokyo, in view of the growing importance of Japan’s investment and economic interest in Hong Kong. Because of the provision of the flexible ranking system, the incumbent was a substantive D6 officer. With his seniority, he had proved able to upgrade the access of the Tokyo Office to Cabinet-level Japanese officials and corporate decision-makers.

15. Members expressed concern about the present mechanism for monitoring the performance of the HKETOs. In response, STI advised that in addition to the performance targets set out in the Estimates of Expenditure, the HKETOs also submitted bi-monthly reports to Hong Kong Government which were made available to LegCo Members. She further advised that it would be difficult to judge the effectiveness of the HKETOs by the extent of success in defending Hong Kong’s trade interest overseas, as the decision was ultimately that of the host country. Nevertheless, she noted members’ concern and would explore other performance measures in this regard.

16. Members indicated objection to the proposal to extend the flexible ranking system to all directorate Head and Deputy Head posts in the HKETOs. In response, STI advised that the Administration would exercise extreme care when creating supernumerary posts under this system which was needed to allow greater flexibility and choice of the candidates for these overseas posts. The arrangement would remove a major discentive for potential candidates by ensuring that these officers in overseas posts would have equal opportunities for acting appointments and substantive promotion as their counterparts in Hong Kong. STI assured members that the appointment or promotion of officers were subject to close scrutiny by Posting Boards or Promotion Boards under the prescribed criteria. As the system was approved in 1991 by the Finance Committee, the present proposal only sought an extension of the arrangement to cover the creation of supernumerary D8 posts held against permanent posts at D6 level, where justified.

17. Members remained unconvinced of the need to extend the flexible ranking system to D8 level. They considered that cases of that nature would be extremely rare and such proposals could be considered by the Establishment Sub-Committee for a recommendation to the Finance Committee. In view of members’ comments, the Administration proposed to withdraw the proposal in order to provide further information to members.


18. The item was withdrawn by the Administration.


Proposed changes in establishment under Expenditure Heads 21, 142, 143, 144 and 151 to enable the reorganisation of the Political Adviser’s Office

19. A member asked why a supernumerary post at AOSGC level would need to be created to look after the interests of the members of Her Majesty’s Overseas Civil Service (HMOCS). In response, the Deputy Political Adviser clarified that this was in fact re-creation of a supernumerary post which had existed since 1985 to deal with 1997-related matters, only one of which was HMOCS. Whilst compensation and other arrangements for members of HMOCS were provided by the British Government, the Hong Kong Government would have to co-ordinate implementation locally, including the phasing of retirements and communication with the British Government on UK pension safeguard arrangements and UK re-employment and re-settlement services for these officers. This was necessary to ensure no disruption to the public service during the transitional period. At present, there were 544 members of HMOCS, and it was envisaged that all residual work in this respect would be completed by 30 June 1997 as would all the other duties of the post which would then be deleted.

20. In reply to a member, the Secretary for the Constitutional Affairs (SCA) advised that the responsibility for co-ordinating cross-border liaison and related functions used to form part of the work of the Political Adviser’s Office (PAO). Given that the PAO would have to wind up by 30 June 1997, it was necessary for the present cross-border liaison and related functions to be taken up by the Constitutional Affairs Branch (CAB), since this would fit tidily with the Branch’s current role in the co-ordination of China-related activities. He further advised that cross-border liaison work would continue and expand beyond 1997, resulting in a corresponding increase in workload.

21. In response to a member, SCA agreed to provide further information on the official visits between Hong Kong and China before the item was put to the Finance Committee for consideration.


22. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a supernumerary post of Government Land Agent (D2) for three years with effect from 10 June 1996 in the Lands Department to head a multi-disciplinary Task Force to tackle the land use environmental problems in the New Territories


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Air Traffic Control Officer (D1) in the Civil Aviation Department with effect from 1 June 1996 to cope with the increasing workload and responsibilities arising from the development of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok


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


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Architect (D1) in the Housing Department to head the Standards Section and to take over part of the responsibilities of the Architectural Division

23. Due to time constraint, the Chairman suggested and the Administration agreed to defer consideration of the remaining four items to a meeting to be fixed later.

24. The Committee was adjourned at 1.05 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
6 June 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998