LegCo Paper No. HB 348/95-96
Ref : HB/H/5

Legislative Council House Committee
(1995/96 Session)

Minutes of 11th meeting held in the LegCo Chamber
of the Legislative Council Building
on Friday, 15 December 1995 at 4:00 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 SZETO Wah
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Absent :

    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon SIN Chung-kai

In attendance :

    ASG2 (Clerk to the House Committee)














(1) Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting held on 8.12.95

(LegCo Paper No. HB 315/95-96)

The minutes were confirmed.

(2) Matters arising

(a) Follow up on the 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- The Preliminary Working Committee’s recommendations to re-instate the provisions of six ordinances which have been repealed/amended in the light of the Bill of Rights Ordinance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 375/95-96)

The Chairman referred Members to the three draft letters to the Hong Kong Government, British Government and the PWC, incorporating the points made by Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Miss Emily LAU at the meeting on 1.12.95.

Mr Albert HO, chairman of the Home Affairs Panel, said that he had no comments on the letters to the Hong Kong and British Governments. However, it might not be appropriate to write to the PWC which had already been dissolved. Members could consider whether communication with the Preparatory Committee was required at a later stage. His view was echoed by other Members.

Members endorsed the draft letters to the Hong Kong and British Governments, which would be issued in the name of the House Committee.

(b) Duration of question time at sittings

The Chairman advised Members that the subject had been discussed by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters at its meeting with the President on 5.12.95. The Subcommittee recommended that question time should be limited to about one hour, that Members should ask for written replies to questions involving statistics, and avoid asking multi-barrelled questions and supplementaries. He had also requested the Chief Secretary to remind Policy Secretaries to give concise replies to questions and use appendices to provide statistical information.

Members noted Mr Michael HO’s suggestion that statistical information could be sought from the Administration through channels other than question time. Mrs Miriam LAU suggested that Members should not make speeches before asking questions.

(c) Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 1995

Mr James TO said that he was awaiting a reply from the Administration to his queries on the Bill. In order to expedite the scrutiny of the Bill, he suggested and Members agreed that a Bills Committee be set up. The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Mr Zachary WONG Wai-yin and Mr TSANG Kin-shing.

(3) Legal Adviser’s report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 30.11.95 and 8.12.95

(LegCo Paper Nos. LS 45 & LS 44/95-96)

The Legal Adviser introduced the report and drew Members’ attention to the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulation 1995 which involved increases in taxi fares (item 1 of LegCo Paper No. LS 44/95-96).

Mr Zachary WONG suggested setting up a Subcommittee to study the Regulation. In view of the Christmas and New Year break, he also suggested that a resolution be moved to extend the scrutiny period to 17.1.96. Members agreed.

The following Members agreed to join the Subcommittee : Mrs Selina CHOW, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr Zachary WONG Wai-yin, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan and Mr TSANG Kin-shing.

Members noted Mrs Miriam LAU’s suggestion that the first meeting of the Subcommittee be held in early January, and ASG2’s advice that the deadline for giving notice of any proposed amendments to the Regulation would be 10.1.96.

Members agreed to support the remaining items of subsidiary legislation.

(4) Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees

(LegCo Paper No. HB 324/95-96)

Members noted the report.

(5) Further report by the Legal Adviser on outstanding bill

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

(LegCo Paper No. LS 47/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that the Paper reported on the technical aspect of the Chinese text of the Bill. He recommended Members to support the Bill.

Dr HUANG Chen-ya and Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung suggested and Members agreed to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung and Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo.

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

(a) Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 48/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to incorporate present common law offences in ordinances as statutory offences. A further report would be submitted on the drafting aspects of the Bill.

Mr Martin LEE said that Miss Margaret NG, who was not at the meeting, had suggested setting up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. Members agreed. The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Mr Martin LEE, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan and Miss Margaret NG.

(b) Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 46/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that subsequent to the issue of the report, a representation had been received from the Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board expressing reservations about the proposal to extend its functions under the Bill to include matters relating to rehabilitation. In the light of this development, he would recommend setting up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. Members agreed.

The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Michael HO Mun-ka, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr LAW Chi-kwong and Mr LEE Kai-ming.

(c) Noise Control (Amendment) Bill 1995

Road Traffic (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 43/95-96)

The Chairman advised Members that the Panels on Transport and Environmental Affairs had not been consulted on the proposals contained in the Bills. On the extent of public consultation, the Legal Adviser referred Members to paragraph 9 of the Paper. He said that the Bills proposed to introduce stringent control measures on noise emission from vehicles on first registration i.e. new vehicles or imported second-hand vehicles. However, existing registered vehicles would not be affected.

As the relevant Panels had not been consulted, Mr Zachary WONG was of the view that a Bills Committee should be formed to study the Bills.

Mr IP Kwok-him suggested that the proposals be considered by the Panels concerned before Members decided whether to set up a Bills Committee.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested deferring a decision on the Bills to the next meeting so as to facilitate further consideration by interested Members. It would be up to the Panels concerned to decide whether they should discuss the matter. Members agreed.

The Chairman advised Members that there were now 16 Bills Committees and subcommittees, and the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1995 would commence its study when a vacant slot arose.

(7) Business for the LegCo sitting on 10.1.96

(a) Questions

(LegCo Paper No. CB 280/95-96)

20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

(b) Statement

No statement had yet been notified.

(c) Government Motion

No motion had yet been notified.

(d) Bill - 1st and 2nd Reading

Law Amendment and Reform (Consolidation) (Amendment)
Bill 1995

The Chairman said that the above Bill would be introduced into LegCo on 10.1.96 and considered by the House Committee on 12.1.96.

(e) Motion debate on "Sewage charge and trade effluent surcharge" - to be moved by Mr CHAN Wing-chan

(f) Motion debate on " The review of industrial safety in Hong Kong" - to be moved by Dr Samuel WONG Ping-wai

The Chairman reminded Members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and of amendments, if any, to the motions were 22.12.95 and 3.1.96 respectively.

(8) Reports by Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees

(a) Report by the Subcommittee to study resolution under section 100A of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
(Cap. 1)

(LegCo Paper No. HB 316/95-96)

Mr James TO, chairman of the Subcommittee, reported on the recommendations of the Subcommittee on the 63 statutory fines in immigration-related legislation, as set out in paragraph 14 of the report. As regards the Subcommittee’s concern about fines relating to illegal employment, he said that the Administration had advised that legislation on measures against illegal employment would be introduced into LegCo in mid-January.

Members agreed to support the recommendations of the Subcommittee.

(b) Report by the LegCo Panel on Information Policy - Review of legislation having an impact on press freedom

(LegCo Paper No. PL 373/95-96)

Miss Emily LAU, chairman of the Panel, introduced the subject and requested the House Committee to write to the Administration as recommended in paragraph 8 of the report.

In response to Mr Martin LEE, Miss LAU said that paragraph 8(a) should be read in conjunction with paragraph 7. It was the intention of the Panel to request the Administration to provide relevant information relating to the proposals put to the JLG.

Mr James TO drew Members’ attention to the reference to "JLG" in paragraph 8(b) of the Chinese version of the report which should read "LRC". He said that, despite the repeated requests by the Security Panel and the Information Policy Panel since 1992/93, the Administration had advised that it was not yet in a position to disclose details of the proposals relating to the Official Secrets Act and the Crimes Ordinance in respect of official secrets, treason and sedition. However, the Administration had recently advised that these proposals had already been submitted to the JLG in July 1995 and declined Members’ request for details of the proposals on grounds of confidentiality. As the proposals were expected to be complex and contentious, he felt that LegCo should be given the relevant information as early as possible to facilitate its study. He supported the Panel’s recommendation. If the Administration refused to meet the request, a motion debate on the subject should be held to enable Members to express their views. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested that an adjournment debate would serve the purpose.

Mr Martin LEE, Dr YEUNG Sum and Mrs Selina CHOW supported the Panel’s recommendation. Mr LEE was also concerned that Members would be deprived of the opportunity to propose changes once agreement had been reached by the JLG.

In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Miss Emily LAU said that the Panel had not considered requesting the Administration to give a confidential briefing on the subject.

Miss Emily LAU asked whether, in the absence of any information from the Administration on the subject, the Legal Service Division could offer assistance to enable Members to embark on their own study of the relevant legislation and formulate views to be forwarded to the Administration. The

Legal Adviser said that his Division could offer assistance in terms of practical legal views, but it was for the Administration to answer any points raised by Members.

In response to Mr Martin LEE, the Legal Adviser said that it was possible for a person ordered to produce documents before the Council or its committees under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to claim public interest immunity.

Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulated that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own in relation to any act of treason and sedition. LegCo was not in a position to initiate amendments to existing ordinances except by introducing Member’s bills. In respect to the proposals concerning the Official Secrets Act and the Crimes Ordinance which had been put forward to JLG, he doubted whether the Administration could release the information requested, since discussions of the JLG were held in confidence. He was concerned whether LegCo would lose credibility by sending a letter which might not bring any fruitful results.

Dr YEUNG Sum, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo, Mr SZETO Wah and Mrs Elizabeth WONG did not agree that the proposed course of action would discredit LegCo.

The proposal of the Panel was put to vote. There were 18 votes for the proposal and 5 votes against it. The Chairman declared that the proposal was carried. He would write to the Administration on behalf of the House Committee.

(c) Verbal Report by the Subcommittee to study Ferry Services (Hong Kong and Yaumatei Ferry Company, Limited) (Determination of fees) (Amendment) Order 1995

Mr LEE Wing-tat, chairman of the Subcommittee, said that the Subcommittee had held its first meeting earlier that day. A motion to extend the scrutiny period of the Order to 10.1.96 was carried at the sitting on 13.12.95. As there would be no House Committee meeting until 5.1.96, and to facilitate Members in giving notice of amendments, if any, to the Order by the deadline of 3.1.96, a report of the Subcommittee would be issued to Members on 29.12.95, after the Subcommittee meeting to be held on 27.12.95.

Members noted that, if considered necessary, the subject could be discussed at the House Committee meeting to be held on 5.1.96.

(d) Report by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters - Shortening of the duration of the division bell

(LegCo Paper No. HB 322/95-96)

The Chairman referred Members to the recommendation of the Subcommittee to amend the Standing Orders to enable the moving of a motion without notice during a Council sitting for the purpose of shortening the duration of the division bell to one minute where many divisions were anticipated.

In response to Mrs Selina CHOW on paragraph 4 of the Paper, the Chairman said that, while the Subcommittee’s proposal provided the flexibility for Members to move the motion without notice at a Council sitting in certain circumstances, Members should advise the House Committee in advance, as far as possible, of the need to reduce the duration of the division bell of certain divisions at a particular sitting.

Mr SZETO Wah asked Members to indicate their intention to move a motion to shorten the duration of the division bell at the House Committee first and avoid debating the motion when it was moved at the Council sitting.

The suggestion to amend the Standing Orders to the effect that the motion to shorten the division bell might be moved without debate was discussed. Some Members felt that it would not be appropriate to deprive Members of the opportunity to debate any motion moved in the Council.

After some further discussion, the Chairman suggested and Members agreed to endorse the Subcommittee’s recommendation for trial. The Secretariat would draft the necessary amendments for consideration by the House Committee in due course.

The meeting ended at 5:15 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
3 January 1996

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