LegCo Paper No. HB 264/95-96
Ref : HB/H/5

Legislative Council House Committee
(1995/96 Session)

Minutes of 9th meeting held in the LegCo Chamber
of the Legislative Council Building
on Friday, 1 December 1995 at 4:30 p.m.

Present :

    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Absent :

    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

In attendance :

    ASG2 (Clerk to the House Committee)













(1) Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting held on 24.11.95

(LegCo Paper No. HB 218/95-96)

The Chairman informed Members of a typographical error in line 2 of the first paragraph of agenda item (5) in which the word "convention" should read "conviction".

The minutes were confirmed with the above amendments.

(2) Matters arising

(a) Subsidiary legislation involving increase in fees and charges

The Chairman advised Members that the Administration had agreed to Members’ suggestion regarding provision of LegCo Briefs with cost analyses in respect of items of subsidiary legislation which involved fee/charge increases and the cost-recovery principle.

(b) Disclosure of Government reports/documents to LegCo

The Chairman reported that he had conveyed Members’ wish to the Acting Chief Secretary that the Administration should make reports available to LegCo in a co-operative manner, instead of appearing to yield to pressure, e.g. possible invoking of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privilege) Ordinance by Members. The Administration had explained that it had initially been worried that the disclosure of the three reports relating to the rockfall accident on Tuen Mun Highway might have implications on the Coroner’s inquest and contractual obligations. However, it had subsequently agreed to release the reports after taking legal advice.

(c) Central Bank Bilateral Repurchase Agreements

Dr HUANG Chen-ya, chairman of the Panel on Financial Affairs, reported that, instead of making a statement in the Council as requested by the Panel, the Financial Secretary had written a letter to him, which was tabled at the meeting (at Appendix I). The Financial Secretary had replied that the current and future bilateral agreements were entered into with his support and knowledge and that the legal arrangements had been vetted by the General Counsel of the HKMA. In response to the Chairman, Dr HUANG said that he found the Financial Secretary’s assurance acceptable.

In response to Dr HUANG, the Legal Adviser said that constitutionally, the letter provided sufficient evidence of acknowledgment of the Executive’s accountability.

In response to the view of Mr James TO and a few Members that the letter had to be put on record for future reference, the Secretary General advised that all relevant documents relating to matters discussed and taken up by committees would be kept in the LegCo Library. The Financial Secretary’s letter would eventually be placed in the Library under the records of the House Committee and the Panel on Financial Affairs.

(3) Legal Adviser’s report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 29.11.95

(LegCo Paper No. LS 34/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that the majority of the items of the subsidiary legislation dealt with the authentication of Chinese texts of Hong Kong laws.

Members supported the subsidiary legislation.

(4) Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees

(LegCo Paper No. HB 232/95-96)

Members noted the report.

(5) Legal Adviser’s report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order No. 42(3A)

(a) Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 37/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to impose duty on the proposed Quinella Place Bet and to impose duty at a lower rate on overseas bets on local races.

In response to Dr HUANG Chen-ya, the Legal Adviser said that the benefit of the reduction in duty rates on overseas bets would go to the overseas host government, as stated in paragraph 8 of the LegCo Brief.

As regards Mr CHAN Kam-lam’s queries on paragraph 6 of the Paper, the Legal Adviser explained that it had been the policy in recent years for the Administration to transfer the power to make regulations, which were routine in nature, from the Governor in Council to the relevant Policy Secretary. The arrangement would not affect LegCo’s power of supervision of the subsidiary legislation.

Mr James TO said that he would like to have more information on the Government’s gambling policy in relation to extension of forms of betting. He would liaise with the Legal Adviser and report back at the next regular meeting.

(b) Estate Agents Bill

(LegCo Paper No. LS 36/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that there had been representations on the Bill, which would have an impact on the industry. He suggested and Members agreed to set up a Bills Committee. The following Members agreed to join : Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Edward S T HO, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr Albert CHAN Wai-yip, Mr Fred LI Wah-ming, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mr NGAN Kam-chuen.

(c) Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 38/95-96)

Referring Members to the Paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to allow the revenue of locally based airlines derived from overseas sources to be taxed if bilateral double taxation relief arrangement existed.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that he would need more time to study the technical aspect of the Bill. He suggested and Members agreed to defer a decision on this Bill for 1-2 weeks.

In response to Mr Albert HO, Mr Howard YOUNG said that the industry had been consulted and had not expressed concern about the Bill.

(6) Further business for LegCo sitting on 6.12.95

Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading

Land Registration (Amendment) Bill 1995

The Chairman informed Members that the above Bill, which was supported by the House Committee on 17.11.95, would resume its Second Reading debate on 6.12.95.

(7) Business for the LegCo sitting on 13.12.95

(a) Questions

(LegCo Paper No. CB 229/95-96)

The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

The Chairman advised Members that the duration of the question time at sittings would be discussed at the next meeting of the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters to be held on 5.12.95. To enable effective use of the question time, he suggested that Members seeking statistical information should ask questions for written replies. Some Members also suggested that the Administration provide such information as Annexes to the oral replies which would also form part of the Hansard records.

(b) Statement

No statement had yet been notified.

(c) Government Motions

(i) Resolution under section 48A of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) - to be moved by the Secretary for Education and Manpower

(LegCo Paper No. LS 39/95-96)

The Legal Adviser referred Members to the report which should be read in conjunction with the draft speech of the Secretary for Education and Manpower issued under LegCo Paper No. CB 219/94-95.

Members agreed to support the resolution.

(ii) Resolution under section 40 of the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 360) - to be moved by the Secretary for Education and Manpower

(LegCo Paper No. LS 35/95-96)

The Legal Adviser referred Members to the report and the draft speech of the Secretary for Education and Manpower issued under the above-mentioned LegCo Paper. He advised that, by approving the increases in this resolution, Members would not be committed to the increases in levy payable by the construction industry to be proposed under another resolution to be moved by the Administration shortly under the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance.

Members agreed to support the resolution.

The Chairman advised Members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above resolutions, was 6.12.95.

(d) Motion debate on "Reduction of emissions from diesel vehicles" -to be moved by Mrs Miriam LAU

Members noted that Mrs Miriam LAU had refined the wording of her motion.

(e) Motion debate on "Old Age Pension Scheme" - to be moved by Mr LEE Cheuk-yan

Members noted that the wording of Mr LEE’s motion was considered at the last meeting.

The Chairman advised Members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 6.12.95.

(8) Advance information on motion debates for the LegCo sitting on 10.1.96

(a) Motion debate on "Sewage charge and trade effluent surcharge"

Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr CHAN Wing-chan.

(b) Motion debate on "Reclamation works"

The Chairman said that Mr IP Kwok-him had withdrawn his motion on the above subject. Dr Samuel WONG had been allocated the slot by ballot for his motion debate on "The review of industrial safety in Hong Kong"

The Chairman said that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and of amendments, if any, to the motions were 6.12.95 and 3.1.96 respectively.

(9) Report by Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees

Report by the LegCo Panel on Home Affairs - The Preliminary Working Committee’s recommendations to re-instate the provisions of six ordinances which have been repealed/amended in the light of the Bill of Rights Ordinance

(LegCo Paper No. PL 284/95-96)

Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, chairman of the Panel, introduced the subject and asked the House Committee to support the proposals of the Panel as set out in paragraph 7 of the Paper i.e. proposals (a) and (b).

In response to the Chairman, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan said that the Panel had not thought of moving a resolution in Council to seek the Council’s support of the proposals.

Mr NGAI Shiu-kit objected to the proposals. The subject matter was related to recommendations of the Preliminary Working Committee (PWC), which had yet to be considered by the SAR Preparatory Committee. Moreover, it was more appropriate for the proposals to be debated and voted upon in Council instead of by the House Committee.

Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that if a letter was to be sent to the British Government, it should also seek clarification on four additional points (at Appendix II). Mr James TO said that he had reservations about points (2) and (4) raised by Mr CHAN Kam-lam.

Mr Howard YOUNG suggested that, to put the matter into proper perspective, clarifications should also be sought from China or the PWC direct on the provisions of the six ordinances concerned which were in breach of the Basic Law. Members noted Mr Martin LEE’s view that it might not be appropriate for LegCo to write to PWC, and that the PWC would soon be dissolved.

Mr Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen was of the view that LegCo should not be involved in the matter which should best be sorted out by the British and Hong Kong Governments.

After discussion, Members agreed that a draft letter to the Hong Kong Government, British Government and the PWC should be prepared by the Home Affairs Panel for further consideration by the House Committee. The points raised by Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mr Howard YOUNG should be incorporated in the draft.

In response to Miss Emily LAU’s suggestion to invite PWC members to meet with LegCo Members direct to discuss the matter, Members agreed that this could be mentioned in the letter to the PWC. In response to Mr Ambrose LAU, the Legal Adviser said that there was nothing wrong constitutionally for LegCo and its committees to address the PWC. In the past, LegCo had addressed other governmental and quasi-governmental bodies outside Hong Kong.

(10) Any Other Business

(a) Briefing by the Chief Secretary on 8.12.95

The Chairman said that the Chief Secretary had proposed to brief Members on "Contacts with China". She was also prepared to respond on the subjects of progress of work of the Joint Liaison Group and the Government Liaison Office, which were suggested by Members.

(b) House Committee Delegation to Geneva to attend the hearings of the United Nations Committee Against Torture on 17.11.95

Mr James TO gave a brief account of the work of the delegation. He was disappointed that the short duration of the UN Committee’s hearing did not allow specific issues relating to Hong Kong to be raised and discussed. A written report of the delegation would be circulated to Members shortly.

Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee suggested and Members agreed that the Secretariat should provide information to facilitate Members’ consideration as to whether delegations should be sent to attend UN hearings to be held in the coming year and the necessary preparatory arrangements.

(c) Proposed special House Committee meeting on 8.12.95 to discuss a proposal to set up a Select Committee to study issues relating to importation of labour

The Chairman invited Members to consider whether a special House Committee meeting should be held on 8.12.95 to consider the proposal to set up a Select Committee.

Mr Martin LEE briefly introduced the subject and referred Members to the paper concerning the proposal from Messrs Michael HO Mun-ka and Mr TSANG Kin-shing tabled at the meeting (at Appendix III). Mr Michael HO supplemented that, in view of the urgency of the matter and in order that a resolution could be moved at the sitting on 13.12.95, before the Christmas and New Year break, for the purpose of seeking the Council’s approval to appoint a Select Committee and to authorize it to exercise the powers conferred by the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, he would like to seek the House Committee’s agreement to request the President to dispense with the required notice. In response to some Members, he said that the reason for putting the proposal for discussion at a special House Committee meeting on 8.12.95 was to give sufficient advance notice to facilitate Members’ consideration.

Mr James TIEN had doubts about the need to hold a special House Committee meeting as the Manpower Panel had already arranged a special meeting for all Members on 5.12.95 to discuss and follow the matter up.

Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung suggested that the Manpower Panel could, after its meeting on 5.12.95, make a recommendation to the House Committee on 8.12.95 as to whether a Select Committee was required to further pursue the matter.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI advised Members that in the last LegCo term, both a Select Committee and the Security Panel were authorized by the Council to exercise powers conferred by the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to order the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents.

Mr Albert CHAN was of the view that a Select Committee was different from a Panel in terms of its membership and terms of reference.

Mr Edward HO and Mrs Selina CHOW did not consider it necessary to have a special meeting on 8.12.95 since the question of whether or not to set up a Select Committee would have to be debated in the Council.

At Mrs Selina CHOW’s suggestion, the proposal to have a special House Committee meeting on 8.12.95 was put to vote. There were 16 votes for the proposal, 7 votes against it and 5 abstentions.

The Chairman concluded that a special House Committee meeting would be held on 8.12.95 to discuss the proposal of Messrs Michael HO Mun-ka and TSANG Kin-shing, after the Finance Committee meeting.

The meeting ended at 6:03 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
6 December 1995

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