Establishment Subcommittee

Minutes of the proceedings of the Meeting held on
10 April 1996 at 10:45 a.m. in the Legislative Council Chamber


    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    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 Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

In attendance for specific items:

Mr Peter PELHAM Principal Assistant Secretary for Trade and Industry
Ms Anissa WONG Deputy Director-General of Industry
Mr Ian PETERSEN Principal Assistant Secretary for Works
Mr Y Y NG, JP Director of Drainage Services
Mr Matthew CHEUNG, JP Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower
Dr Iris BUDGE-REID Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (1)
Ms Grace LUI Deputy Secretary-General, University Grants Committee
Mr Herman CHO Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (7)
Mr K F LEE Deputy Commissioner for Labour
Mr Peter TISMAN Principal Assistant Secretary for Financial Services
Mr A R HEARDER, JP Official Receiver
Mr Trevor KEEN Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Mr J S R EDGE Deputy Principal Solicitor, Lands Department

In attendance:

Mr Kevin HO, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Mike STONE, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
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)

Due to Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s absence on overseas trip, Dr Anthony CHEUNG, Deputy Chairman, chaired the meeting.

2. At the request of the Administration, members agreed that paper EC(96-97)2 would be discussed in the latter part of the meeting.


Proposed deletion of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Data and Services Division of the Industry Department as a result of the reorganisation in June 1995

3. While supporting the proposal, members enquired about the background leading to the deletion of the post concerned and whether government departments were required to review their establishment regularly.

4. In response, the Deputy Director-General of Industry advised that in view of the restructuring of the manufacturing industries, an organisation review of the Department was carried out in June 1995 to re-prioritise the focus of the departmental activities, resulting in the transfer of activities in the Data and Services Division to other divisions in the department. Consequently, one Assistant Director and one personal secretary posts could be deleted.

5. As regards the review mechanism, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) advised that the establishment of a department was subject to regular reviews to cater for changing circumstances. It was not uncommon for departments to come up with proposals, following such reviews, to reorganise divisions to meet changing priorities and to delete or re-grade posts. He agreed to provide further information to the LegCo Panel on Public Service on the present mechanism and the posts being considered for deletion.


6. A member welcomed the inclusion of staff on-costs in the paper and asked the Administration to consider including the information in the preamble of the proposal.

7. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (D1) under Head 46 to head a second Sewage Treatment Division in the Drainage Services Department

8. On the need for an additional D1 post, the Director of Drainage Services (DDS) advised that with the progressive implementation of the Sewage Master Plans and the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme (SSDS), the number of electrical and mechanical installations and volume of sewage handled in the territory had increased substantially, making it difficult for the work to be absorbed by existing staff. It was also envisaged that the additional responsibilities arising from the research and development initiatives to meet higher standards of effluent discharge and the full implementation of the High Priority Programme in 1997 would significantly increase the department’s workload. To provide adequate direction and supervision to these important activities, it would be necessary to split the existing Sewage Treatment Division into two, each headed by a Chief Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (CEME). An additional CEME post was therefore required.

9. As regards the reasons for a relatively smaller team to be headed by the new CEME, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Works advised that lesser manpower would be required for the operation and maintenance of the new sewage system under SSDS Stage I as the system was more advanced and had a greater treatment capacity. However, the operation of these complex and expensive treatment facilities would require the expertise of a dedicated CEME in order to optimise efficiency of the new system.

10. Responding to a member’s question, DDS confirmed that all expenses, including staff costs, for the operation and maintenance of sewage systems would be fully met by the Sewage Services Trading Fund (SSTF) established in March 1994. However, the additional costs should not have significant impact on the sewage charges, considering the overall estimated income of the SSTF which would amount to some $700 million a year.

11. This item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU indicated her reservation on the proposal.


Proposed creation of a permanent post in a new grade and rank of Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (D4) offset by the deletion of one post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) to cater for the unique nature and the requirement for continuity of the post in fulfilling the tasks required by the University Grants Committee

12. A member raised the question as to whether ‘departmentalising’ the post of the Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (SG/UGC) would debar the Administration from appointing officers of the Administrative Officer (AO) grade or other grades to the post should the need arise. In response, DS/CS advised that given the specialised nature of the job and the need for continuity, it had been increasingly difficult to identify AO with suitable experience to fill the post particularly at a time when there was already a shortage of AOs. Converting the SG/UGC post to a one-rank departmental post would mean opening up the post to all suitable candidates in addition to those from the AO grade. The successful candidate would be engaged on a three-year contract, providing flexibility for re-appointment or replacement where necessary.

13. On the wider issue of the role of the SG/UGC in overseeing and monitoring the funding mechanisms for meeting the needs of tertiary institutions, the Chairman advised that this should be followed up by the Panel on Education.


14. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of two permanent posts of one Deputy Commissioner for Labour (D3) and one Chief Factory Inspector (D1) to strengthen the directorate support of Labour Department to implement the new policy on occupational safety and health

15. Members were in support of the proposal to deploy additional manpower to enhance occupational safety and health, but expressed concern over the long time taken by the Administration in completing the review on industrial safety. In response, the Deputy Commissioner for Labour (DC for L) briefed members on the background of the review and the process of consultation. As regards the rationale for the proposed change of strategy from focusing on enforcement to promoting safety management, DC for L clarified that the Administration had no intention of relaxing enforcement actions, which would be taken in parallel with the more intensive education and publicity efforts on promoting occupational safety and health. The provision of some 50 additional factory inspectors this year was part of the present improvement package to deter non-compliance with the statutory requirements. Where necessary, the Administration would appeal against court sentences which were considered too light for certain industrial safety offences.

16. Members urged the Administration to extend the scope of safety and health legislation to cover all employees including those in non-industrial undertakings. In response, DC for L advised that the new legislation to protect the safety and health of employees in all economic sectors would be ready towards the end of this year. The Administration would consider the additional manpower required to implement the new legislation.

17. As regards the division of labour between the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Branch (OSHB) in the Labour Department, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (PAS/EM) advised that these two bodies performed different functions. The OSHC, being a non-government statutory body, would provide and coordinate safety training and publicity, and promote a safety culture among employers and employees and in the community at large, while OSHB staff would, in the course of their daily inspections and visits, enforce the safety and health laws and advise employers and proprietors of the necessary safety improvements measures. As regards whether Government would finance the activities of OSHC, DC for L advised that the Government was examining the funding requirements of the OSHC in the light of its work plan.

18. Noting members’ concern that the accident rate in non-Airport Core Programme (non-ACP) project sites was disproportionately higher than that in ACP sites, DC for L provided information on the industrial accident rates in some developed countries. He advised that based on operational experience, prosecutions alone would not necessarily bring about reductions in industrial accident rates. PAS/EM advised that with the implementation of safety management, there should be a gradual reduction in the overall accident rate. While the Administration would endeavour to improve the situation, it would not be practicable to set a specific target or timetable in this respect.

19. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman suggested that the wider policy issue of occupational safety and health should be discussed at the Panel on Manpower.


20. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed upgrading the post of Assistant Principal Solicitor (DL1) to Deputy Principal Solicitor (DL2) in the Legal Services Division of the Official Receiver’s Office to recognise the increased complexity and level of responsibility of the post after the implementation of the disqualification scheme

21. In response to members’ questions, the Official Receiver (OR) briefed members on the background leading to the present proposal. He advised that following enactment of the new legislation in mid-1994 on insolvency and disqualification procedures , OR was required to perform a more complicated and proactive enforcement and regulatory role in the disqualification of errant company directors, in addition to investigating and prosecuting insolvency offences. These additional responsibilities were largely undertaken by the Assistant Principal Solicitor (APS) who had since then been required to vet and investigate a large number of potential disqualification cases. As a result of the increased volume and complexity of the responsibilities of the APS, the work relating to policy and legislation had to be performed by the Deputy Principal Solicitor (DPS) who could no longer afford the time to supervise the APS on the disqualification scheme. The proposed upgrading of the APS post was to give due recognition to the importance of the scheme and the level of responsibilities of the post.

22. Some members asked whether additional staff would be required to support the APS in view of the increased workload. In reply, OR advised that two additional posts (an Insolvency Officer and a Clerical Officer) had in fact been created in the previous year to provide support to the APS. Due to funding constraints, the proposed upgrading of the APS post had been deferred to this financial year. He further advised that the post, if endorsed by the committee, would be filled by internal promotion.

23. At the request of members, OR undertook to provide further information on the improvements brought about by the present proposal after implementation, for example, by comparing the average time for case processing before and after the provision of additional staffing resources.


24. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Principal Solicitor (DL1) in the Lands Department with effect from 13 May 1996 to provide adequate legal support at directorate level for Port and Airport Development Strategy projects

25. Noting that the majority of the Port and Airport Development Strategy (PADS) projects currently undertaken by the APS would be completed by 2003, and that a permanent post of DPS had already been created for the related duties, members queried whether there was a genuine need to make the supernumerary APS post permanent.

26. In reply, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (PAS/PEL) outlined the duties undertaken by the APS in the years ahead, emphasising that there would be sufficient workload in the foreseeable future to justify the continued need of this post. Although the majority of the PADS-related duties would end by 2003, the administration of the Land Authority Consent Scheme and other on-going projects still required continual legal input until 2010. He explained that in view of the complexity and the scale of airport projects, it would be necessary to have the continued support of high level legal and conveyancing services on land matters even after the land grant. On the innovative conveyancing method to be adopted for the Airport Railways developments, PAS/PEL noted a member’s suggestion that legal practitioners should be informed to ensure transparency.

27. Several members considered that the duties of the APS were of a short-term nature, and it would not be reasonable to create a permanent post for that purpose. In response, DS/CS advised that it was government policy to create permanent posts for functions which would last five years or more, and the present proposal was considered justified. The Administration would review in 2003 or earlier whether there would be a long-term requirement for the post. He further advised that retention of supernumerary posts for a prolonged period would be unfair to the incumbents who might be denied substantive promotion despite long acting appointments. In this regard, members considered that creation of permanent posts should be based on the functional need rather than staff morale.

28. After discussion, members remained unconvinced of the need to convert the existing supernumerary APS post to a permanent post, and urged the Administration to revise the present proposal. The Chairman therefore advised that the Administration could consider revising the present proposal in view of members’ comments. Having regard to members’ views, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury agreed to modify the proposal in paragraph 2 of EC(96-97)2 to the effect that the supernumerary post of APS would be extended for another three years with effect from 13 May 1996.

29. The revised proposal was put to vote and endorsed.

30. The meeting ended at 12.55 pm

Legislative Council Secretariat
9 May 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998