OFFICIAL RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

Wednesday, 15 May 1996

The Council met at half-past Two o'clock

MEMBERS PRESENT

THE PRESIDENT

THE HONOURABLE ANDREW WONG WANG-FAT, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE ALLEN LEE PENG-FEI, C.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE MRS SELINA CHOW LIANG SHUK-YEE, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE MARTIN LEE CHU-MING, Q.C., J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE DAVID LI KWOK-PO, O.B.E., LL.D. (CANTAB), J.P.

THE HONOURABLE NGAI SHIU-KIT, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE SZETO WAH

THE HONOURABLE LAU WONG-FAT, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE EDWARD HO SING-TIN, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE RONALD JOSEPH ARCULLI, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE MRS MIRIAM LAU KIN-YEE, O.B.E., J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE EDWARD LEONG CHE-HUNG, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE ALBERT CHAN WAI-YIP

THE HONOURABLE CHEUNG MAN-KWONG

THE HONOURABLE CHIM PUI-CHUNG

THE HONOURABLE MICHAEL HO MUN-KA

DR THE HONOURABLE HUANG CHEN-YA, M.B.E.

THE HONOURABLE EMILY LAU WAI-HING

THE HONOURABLE LEE WING-TAT

THE HONOURABLE ERIC LI KA-CHEUNG, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE FRED LI WAH-MING

THE HONOURABLE HENRY TANG YING-YEN, J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE SAMUEL WONG PING-WAI, M.B.E., F.Eng., J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE PHILIP WONG YU-HONG

DR THE HONOURABLE YEUNG SUM

THE HONOURABLE ZACHARY WONG WAI-YIN

THE HONOURABLE CHRISTINE LOH KUNG-WAI

THE HONOURABLE JAMES TIEN PEI-CHUN, O.B.E., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LEE CHEUK-YAN

THE HONOURABLE CHAN KAM-LAM

THE HONOURABLE CHAN WING-CHAN

THE HONOURABLE CHAN YUEN-HAN

THE HONOURABLE ANDREW CHENG KAR-FOO

THE HONOURABLE PAUL CHENG MING-FUN

THE HONOURABLE CHENG YIU-TONG

DR THE HONOURABLE ANTHONY CHEUNG BING-LEUNG

THE HONOURABLE CHEUNG HON-CHUNG

THE HONOURABLE CHOY KAN-PUI, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE ALBERT HO CHUN-YAN

THE HONOURABLE IP KWOK-HIM

THE HONOURABLE LAU CHIN-SHEK

THE HONOURABLE AMBROSE LAU HON-CHUEN, J.P.

DR THE HONOURABLE LAW CHEUNG-KWOK

THE HONOURABLE LAW CHI-KWONG

THE HONOURABLE LEUNG YIU-CHUNG

THE HONOURABLE BRUCE LIU SING-LEE

THE HONOURABLE MOK YING-FAN

THE HONOURABLE MARGARET NG

THE HONOURABLE NGAN KAM-CHUEN

THE HONOURABLE SIN CHUNG-KAI

THE HONOURABLE TSANG KIN-SHING

DR THE HONOURABLE JOHN TSE WING-LING

THE HONOURABLE MRS ELIZABETH WONG CHIEN CHI-LIEN, C.B.E., I.S.O., J.P.

THE HONOURABLE LAWRENCE YUM SIN-LING

MEMBERS ABSENT

THE HONOURABLE FREDERICK FUNG KIN-KEE

THE HONOURABLE JAMES TO KUN-SUN

THE HONOURABLE HOWARD YOUNG, J.P.

THE HONOURABLE DAVID CHU YU-LIN

THE HONOURABLE LEE KAI-MING

THE HONOURABLE LO SUK-CHING

PUBLIC OFFICERS ATTENDING

THE HONOURABLE MRS ANSON CHAN, C.B.E., J.P.

CHIEF SECRETARY

MR RAFAEL HUI SI-YAN, J.P.

FINANCIAL SECRETARY

THE HONOURABLE JEREMY FELL MATHEWS, C.M.G., J.P.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

MR CHAU TAK-HAY, C.B.E., J.P.

SECRETARY FOR RECREATION AND CULTURE

MR NICHOLAS NG WING-FUI, J.P.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS

MR JOSEPH WONG WING-PING, J.P.

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER

MR PETER LAI HING-LING, J.P.

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY

MR BOWEN LEUNG PO-WING, J.P.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS

MR KWONG KI-CHI, J.P.

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY

MR LEO KWAN WING-WAH, J.P.

SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES

CLERK IN ATTENDANCE

MR RICKY FUNG CHOI-CHEUNG, SECRETARY GENERAL

PAPERS

The following papers were laid on the table pursuant to Standing Order 14(2):

Subject

Subsidiary Legislation

L.N. No.

Waterworks (Amendment) Regulation 1996

176/96

Country Parks and Special Areas (Amendment) Regulation 1996

178/96

Pesticides (Amendment) Regulation 1996

179/96

Official Languages (Alteration of Text) (District Court Ordinance) Order 1996

180/96

Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Public Pleasure Grounds) (Amendment of Fourth Schedule) (No. 2) Order 1996

181/96

Declaration of Increase in Pensions Notice 1996

182/96

Widows and Orphans Pension (Increase) Notice 1996

183/96

Disability Discrimination Ordinance (86 of 1995)(Commencement) Notice 1996

184/96

Sex Discrimination Ordinance (67 of 1995) (Commencement) Notice 1996

185/96

Intellectual Property (World Trade Organization Amendments) Ordinance 1996 (11 of 1996)(Commencement) Notice 1996

186/96

Land Registration Fees (Amendment) Regulation 1995 (L.N. 35 of 1996) (Commencement) Notice 1996

187/96

Land Registration (New Territories) Fees (Repeal) Regulation 1995 (L.N. 36 of 1996) (Commencement) Notice 1996

188/96

Land Registration (Amendment) Regulation 1996 (L.N. 39 of 1996) (Commencement) Notice 1996

189/96

Land Registration Fees (Amendment) Regulation 1995 (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 1996 (L.N.145 of 1996) (Commencement) Notice 1996

190/96

Official Languages (Authentic Chinese Text) (Wild Animals Protection Ordinance) Order

(C) 43/96

Sessional Paper 1995-96

No. 81--

Hong Kong Monetary Authority
Annual Report 1995

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

Curriculum on Environmental Protection

1. MR CHOY KAN-PUI asked (in Cantonese): Mr President, will the Government inform this Council whether the Education Department has devised a comprehensive curriculum on environmental protection for primary and secondary schools; if so, what the contents of the curriculum are and what effects have been achieved so far; if not, why not?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Mr President, environmental education is a process concerned with understanding the environment, and developing skills and attitudes for participation in improving the quality of the environment. It is Government's policy to promote environmental education at all levels of school education. The aims, objectives and curricula of environmental education in schools have been set out clearly in the Guidelines on Environmental Education in Schools issued by the Education Department in 1992.

Government has adopted a cross-curricular approach in environmental education. Each subject area of the school curriculum focuses on and explores different aspects of human understanding and experience of the environment. At primary level, subjects incorporating elements of environmental education include Social Studies, Health Education, General Studies and Science. At secondary level, the relevant subjects include Geography, History, Economics and Public Affairs, Social Studies and science subjects.

Let me explain how these different subject groups can help students acquire an understanding of our environment from different perspectives. For example, through science subjects, students acquire the skills of scientific investigation and an understanding of concepts related to the natural environment. Through humanities subjects, students learn about the interaction of man with his environment from historical, sociological, economic and geographical angles. Through Arts and Music, students develop an aesthetic appreciation of the environment. Learning these subjects helps students achieve an all-round understanding of the environment and develops their own values towards environmental issues.

In addition to the formal curriculum, students can learn about the environment through extra-curricular activities. These can take the form of school based activities like discussion, debate or role play; or they can be in the form of out-door activities like field trips or visits to an organic farm or polluted areas. Through these activities, students are exposed to real problems and can obtain first-hand experience of the environment, thereby increasing their concern for and appreciation of the environment.

Every primary and secondary school is actively promoting environmental education through the formal curriculum and extra-curricular activities. For example, over 200 schools have participated in the Student Environmental Ambassador Scheme and some 250 schools in schemes to collect waste paper for recycling. We also see an encouraging trend that schools are organising environmental activities which involve greater participation of students such as greening the school ground and saving energy and water. This indicates that schools are putting more emphasis on environmental education at both the primary and secondary levels.

MR CHOY KAN-PUI (in Cantonese): Mr President, what in the Government's opinion is the most effective way to promote environmental protection education in both secondary and primary schools?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Mr President, I have already pointed out in the main reply that it is very important to set out clearly the aims, objectives and curricula of environmental education in order to promote environmental education in secondary and primary schools. This has been spelled out clearly in the Guidelines on Environmental Education in Schools issued in 1992. As regards the ways and means, we think environmental education should be promoted through a cross-curricular approach. In other words, by exposing the students to different subjects, they will be able to learn about the interaction of man with his environment, the importance of the natural environment to man, and how to cherish and protect our environment from different angles and perspectives.

DR JOHN TSE (in Cantonese): In the Government's main reply, it seems to say that many schools and teachers have received training, especially training in environmental protection. Would the Government inform this Council how many teachers have received training in environmental protection, and how many students have received education in environmental protection?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Cantonese): Mr President, with regard to training provided for teachers, there are two aspects to it. Firstly, on-the-job training. The Education Department has constantly worked through different means and channels, for example, organizing seminars and workshops, in order to deepen the understanding of serving teachers on environmental education. In the past two years for instance, the Education Department has already organized more than 120 different seminars and workshops for over 4 000 teachers. As for prospective teachers, we understand that the curricula of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong on teacher training also include environmental education. I have to emphasize one point, since environmental education is actually covered in many different subjects, for example science subjects, General Studies, Health Education, Social Studies, History and so on which I have just mentioned, a teacher will therefore naturally be able to understand and learn how to promote environmental education when he attends the individual subjects.

Transition of Judicial Officers

2. MR ALBERT HO asked (in Cantonese): Regarding the Government's handling of the issue concerning the transition of judges and other members of the judiciary, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. how the Government interprets the stipulation in Article 93 of the Basic Law of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (the SAR Government) that judges and other members of the judiciary may all remain in employment; whether they need to be invited by the SAR Government or some other organizations before they can continue to serve in the SAR Government; and whether those who remain in employment will be able to retain their original posts; and

  2. whether, in handling the above issue, the Government will request the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group to explain the meaning of "may all remain in employment"; if not, why not?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, Article 93 of the Basic Law states in very clear terms that judges and other members of the judiciary serving in Hong Kong before the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) may all remain in employment and retain their seniority with pay, allowances, benefits and conditions of service no less favourable than before. This mirrors the provision in the Joint Declaration on the continued service of judges and other members of the judiciary. Their continued service has therefore been very clearly and explicitly provided for in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. We have no reason to doubt that these provisions will be complied with.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, before I raise my follow-up question, may I ask Mr President to call on the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs to give a clear reply on part (b) of the main question first? It is because he has not answered it.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, if the Honourable Member is referring to consultation in the Joint Liaison Group (JLG), then my answer would be, as I mentioned, the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law very clearly provide for the continued service of judges and other members of the judiciary. In view of the firm safeguards already provided for in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, there is no need for discussion in the JLG or indeed any other forum about this issue.

MR ALBERT HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, my follow-up question is: sources close to the Chinese side said recently that in the light of the transfer of sovereignty, re-appointment of judges in Hong Kong will be required and a vetting procedure may be included in the course of re-appointment. In order to ensure the independence of the Judiciary and a smooth transition of the judges of Hong Kong in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration, can the Government expressly state that if confirmation were needed, the Government will certainly insist that it should only be a formality rather than a political vetting process which is absolutely unacceptable?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, as I stressed in my principal answer, the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law provide for the continued service of judges and other members of the judiciary after 1997. Neither the Joint Declaration nor the Basic Law prescribes a re-appointment procedure for judges and other members of the judiciary serving in Hong Kong before the establishment of the HKSAR. Any possible arrangements that the SAR Government may wish to make to effect the continued service of these judges should be no more than a procedural formality, for example, taking the oath of allegiance under Article 104 of the Basic Law.

MR MARTIN LEE: Mr President, is the Government aware of, and does the Government agree with:

  1. a recent interpretation from the members of the Legal Sub-Group of the Preparatory Committee on Article 93 of the Basic Law, that the clause "judges may all remain in employment ......" and so on, means that judges may but equally may not be employed after the change of sovereignty on 1 July 1997; and

  2. another interpretation by a senior official of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the Chinese Government, that though judges may retain their seniority with pay and other conditions of service no less favourable than before, they could actually be demoted?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, it is not for me to comment on what the Legal Sub-group of the Preparatory Committee has or has not deliberated. This is something that is not in my area, nor is it really out in the public domain. But I would like to comment on the two points made by the Honourable Member.

I am sure the Honourable Member, being a prominent lawyer, should realize that the word "may" only means that judges, like other public servants, are not compelled, that is, forced, to remain in the service if they do not wish to. Some judges and other members of the judiciary may well have reached the retirement age by the time the transition takes place, or perhaps decide to leave for other reasons, and that is the whole purpose and objective of the word "may" in the Joint Declaration.

The second point is whether serving judges would retain their existing posts. Now, obviously, the Joint Declaration and Basic Law provide that these judges may remain in employment and retain their seniority and conditions of service no less favourable than before. There could, of course, be changes arising, for example, from promotions. There is no provision for demotions and indeed the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law provide that they remain in the service with the same seniority and with the same terms of service as before.

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, in view of the public concern aroused on this important issue, will the Administration inform this Council whether clarification has been sought or is going to be sought with the Chinese authorities as to the understanding and the process whereby the judges employments are going to be continued and whether it is going to be conditional upon some process of confirmation or conditional upon some qualifications being checked or fulfilled?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, I would not like to repeat the various answers I gave to Mr Albert HO and also the supplementary raised by him. In a nutshell, the Joint Declaration and Basic Law provide for the continued service of members of the judiciary. It is very clearly stipulated. As I said, we have no reason to doubt that these provisions will be complied with and there is no reason why we would therefore need to seek any clarification.

PRESIDENT: Miss NG, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MISS MARGARET NG: Indeed, Mr President, my question was on the process. Article 93 does not refer to any process. My question was whether the Administration has sought clarification on the process whereby employment is to be continued?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Again, Mr President, in my answer to the supplementary raised by Mr HO, I said that there is no provision in the Joint Declaration and Basic Law to prescribe a re-appointment procedure, if that is what Miss NG means by the process. And in any case, any possible process or any possible arrangements that the SAR Government may wish to make to effect the continued service, as I said, should be no more than a procedural formality, for instance, the taking of the oath in Article 104 of the Basic Law.

PRESIDENT: Miss NG, I do not wish to see this turning into a debate.

MISS MARGARET NG: Not a debate, Mr President, with respect. May I reduce my question. My question is one of whether clarification has been sought or is going to be sought? The Secretary refers to things the Chief Executive may or may not do, so hence my question, in view particularly of that part of his answer, whether he intends to seek clarification? It is a yes or no question.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, we have no plan to do so, and not because we do not want to do that, but because there is no need to do that as there is no requirement whatsoever in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law about re-appointment process or procedures for serving judges.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Mr President, it has been reported that all serving members of the Judiciary are required to accept and declare support for the provisional legislature to secure a smooth transition. This has put many officials in a dilemma and posed a challenge to the independence of the judicial system. May I ask whether the Government has, through whatever channels, sought clarification from the Chinese side on the requirement of declaring support for the provisional legislature and reflected this problem when it raised objection against the provisional legislature?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, there is no requirement at all in the Joint Declaration or the Basic Law about the acceptance of the provisional legislature as a prerequisite for continuation of service.

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Mr President, my question is: in view of such reports, has the Government sought to clarify them through any channel?

PRESIDENT: I think the answer was no.

MR LEE WING-TAT (in Cantonese): Mr President, may I ask the Secretary whether the Chinese side has informed the British side through the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group that the transition of judges required the judges' declaration of support for the provisional legislature? If the answer is negative, then regarding certain members of the Preparatory Committee who, on banquet occasions, have recently asked others to indirectly declare support for the provisional legislature, were they trying to conducting political vetting, with their clout borrowed from the tiger's might?

PRESIDENT: The last part was argumentative. Secretary, the first part.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTION AFFAIRS: Mr President, I think I gave the answer to an earlier question. There is no such requirement in the Joint Declaration and Basic Law for accepting the provisional legislature or indeed any condition other than judicial quality and ability for appointment to the Bench.

MISS EMILY LAU: Mr President, I want to follow up on the use of the word "may" versus the use of the word "shall". According to Article 93, as the Secretary just told us, judges and other members of the judiciary serving in Hong Kong right now "may" all remain in employment and retain their seniority with pay and so on after 1997, and the same expression is used in Article 100 for public servants saying they "may" all remain in employment and retain their seniority with pay and so on. But Mr President, if we look at Article 91 of the Basic Law, it says the HKSAR "shall" maintain the previous system of appointment and removal of members of the judiciary. And Article 92 says judges and other members of the judiciary of the SAR shall be chosen on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities and so on. Mr President, may I ask the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, being a constitutional law expert, to enlighten Members? Of course, he did not draft the Basic Law, but what is his understanding of the usage of the two words? He said with "may" the option is on the judges, they "may" retire, they "may" leave. But my understanding is "shall" is a matter of course. He "shall" remain. But with "may", it may be that the Chief Executive or the Chinese Government does not want him to remain so he "may" not remain. Can he give us some clarification please?

PRESIDENT: Miss LAU, I think you have ruled yourself out of order. You are seeking the expression of a legal opinion, the solution of a certain legal problem. But I think on the question of "may" and "shall", Secretary, you answered to the effect that "may" means certain things. Would you like to repeat that please?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, I have no intention of engaging in the debate or the argument about the meaning of the words. But if we have to apply a face value to the interpretation of the words "shall" or "may" in the relevant context, I think it is very obvious and clear, to me at least, and I am sure to some of the students in the gallery ......

PRESIDENT: Secretary, you are not supposed to address the students. You are not supposed to address the public gallery. (Laughter)

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: My apologies, Mr President.

As I said, one has to interpret the word in the relevant context. In the case of Article 93 of the Basic Law, it is obvious that "may" refers to the option to be given and exercised by the individual judge or individual public officer concerned. If the judge has reached retirement age or about to reach retirement age or for one reason or another wants to leave the job, then obviously you cannot compel him to serve beyond 1997. So, in that context, the word "may" obviously provides the judge with the flexibility and the option that he could duly exercise. In the context of the other article quoted by Miss LAU, obviously the word "shall" indicates that the need to maintain, the need to oblige the system to be maintained and the option is not for the authority to pick and choose the system that should or should not remain. That would be my layman's interpretation of the words.

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, will the Secretary tell this Council whether he has noticed a difference between the English version of Article 93 and the Chinese version? The Secretary has just explained that as far as he understands it, "may remain" refers to an option to be exercised by the judge, whether he wants to remain or he does not want to remain. However, in the Chinese version, Mr President, and I seek leave to use these four Chinese characters, it says "均可留用" which translated literally means "may be retained". "May be retained" is not the same thing as exercising an option to remain. It appears that it says there is an option to retain or not to retain. So I go back to my question which is whether the Secretary has noticed the discrepancy and what does he understand by that?

PRESIDENT: It has become even more esoteric now (Laughter) ─ legal differences between the words "shall" and "may" and the legal meaning of certain Chinese words, "均可留用". Secretary, not expressing a legal opinion though.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, I do not accept the premise of the question in the first place. The premise of the question is that there is a discrepancy. It is not for me to prove or disprove that there is a discrepancy. It is for the Honourable Member to show that there is a discrepancy. As far as I can understand it, as far as I am concerned, the wording in Article 93 of the Basic Law, is as I explained.

PRESIDENT: Miss NG, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MISS MARGARET NG: Indeed, Mr President, my question was ......

PRESIDENT: I think that should be taken up in a Panel meeting, which might prove to be more useful. May I suggest that.

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, of course I will obey your ruling, but may I just finish the sentence?

PRESIDENT: Please do.

MISS MARGARET NG: My question is really whether the Secretary has addressed his mind to that point?

PRESIDENT: I think the Secretary has a lot of matters on his mind. Secretary.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, I am afraid I have nothing further to add to the various exchanges between the three of us.

MR MARTIN LEE: Mr President, whereas I am quite satisfied with the Secretary's answer to my supplementary question earlier on and I will give him 80 out of 100, but the point is has he made sure that his interpretation is agreed to by the Chinese team on the Joint Liaison Group? Otherwise, he interprets one thing and they interpret the other and they will be the sovereign in 400 days' time.

PRESIDENT: Secretary, I think Mr LEE is asking you to answer part (b) of the original question by changing one word, that is to request the JLG to "agree on" the meaning of "may all remain in employment" and not just "explain".

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, there are of course very clear provisions in the Basic Law on how to deal with difficulties of interpretation. I do not think we are in that situation yet, as I said there is no reason to suggest that Article 93 would not be complied with. If there are difficulties in future about interpretation, one would have to rely on the prescribed arrangements for seeking a proper interpretation. I do not think we are at that stage yet.

MR MARTIN LEE: Mr President, but the Chinese side has actually made known their interpretation which apparently he does not agree with and I happen to agree with him. So the question, Mr President, is, surely does he not realize it is now very necessary and indeed important for the British Joint Liaison Group team to seek the agreement of their counterparts and have this worked out now before it is too late?

PRESIDENT: That was not put in the form of a question, Mr LEE.

MR MARTIN LEE: Oh yes. Does the Government agree that they have now a duty?

PRESIDENT: Yes, thank you.

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Mr President, could I seek your permission for the Honourable Member to elaborate on his statement that a certain Chinese official has explained or declared or defined the provision in Article 93 of the Basic Law.

PRESIDENT: It is becoming a debate now.

MR MARTIN LEE: I have not been trying to provoke a debate.

PRESIDENT: Mr LEE, please resume your seat. Secretary, are you asking whether or not Mr Lee is prepared to substantiate his claim that a certain Chinese official has made such a statement?

SECRETARY FOR CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: Yes, Mr President, before I can answer the question.

MR MARTIN LEE: I believe it was Mr CHEN Zi-ying who made the second statement that I referred to . In other words, that judges may not actually keep their same position. In other words, a High Court judge could or may not actually sit in the High Court but in the District Court. That was the implication of his statement. But is the Secretary telling us that he is not even aware of that?

PRESIDENT: That was not a substantiation of your claim that a certain Chinese official made those remarks.

MR MARTIN LEE: Where is the answer? I asked a question.

PRESIDENT: The Secretary was not prepared to answer the claim on your part which you cannot substantiate.

MR MARTIN LEE: Well, I thought I gave him the name. What else does he want?

PRESIDENT: You said you believe; you simply believe.

MR MARTIN LEE: Well, I cannot be 100% sure.(Laughter)

PRESIDENT: The answer was very clear. The Secretary was not prepared to answer your question.

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Mr President, I have checked against the Standing Orders. I am sure I will not be ruled out of order.

May I ask the Secretary to agree that the distinction between "may" and "shall" is in simple layman's terms, because I believe the law is also for laymen not only for lawyers, in simple layman's terms the same as the following example; the judge on departure from Hong Kong may sell sea shells on the sea shore but the shells he sells "shall" be sea shore shells? Thank you. My apologies to the interpreter. Thank you. (Laughter)

PRESIDENT: Is your supplementary in any way related to the original question? (Laughter)

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Yes, Mr President. It is a distinction between "may" and "shall". "Shall" is in the Basic Law, "may" is in the Secretary's answer. So I would like to compare the two.

PRESIDENT: I do not regard this exchange very productive. We have been concentrating too much on the difference between the words "may" and "shall".

Miss Emily LAU, I thought you wished to have a second supplementary.

MISS EMILY LAU: Mr President, I suggest we move on. Effectiveness of Unleaded Petrol in Reducing Air Pollution

3. MRS MIRIAM LAU asked (in Cantonese): Mr President, in order to minimize pollution caused by lead content in the air, the Government introduced unleaded petrol (ULP) in 1991 and prohibited the import of vehicles using leaded petrol as from 1992. It has also been levying lower duties on ULP so as to encourage drivers to switch to the use of ULP. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether the lead content in the air has been reduced after the implementation of the above measures; if so, please provide information on the improvement in air quality achieved in the past five years;

  2. of the total reduction in petrol duties collected since the introduction of ULP; and

  3. of the criteria adopted by the Government for assessing whether "the policy on unleaded petrol" has fulfilled the "cost-effectiveness" principle and achieved the purpose of reducing air pollution?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, my answer to the three-part question is as follows:

  1. The introduction of unleaded petrol in 1991 has contributed to reductions in lead emissions in the air and built on steps which had been taken before 1991 to reduce the lead content of petrol fuel. Currently, less than 20 tonnes of lead is emitted into the air per year, which amounts to a reduction of 50% from the 1991 figure. Consequently, the three-month average level of lead in air is below 0.15 microgrammes per cu m, which is below 10% of the Air Quality Objective value. However, it should be noted ─ as we pointed out in the 1989 White Paper on the Environment that unleaded petrol was introduced not only to reduce lead emissions but also to pave the way for the use of catalytic converters, made mandatory in 1992, which would reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons from petrol vehicles. As a result of these measures, and despite an increase in the petrol vehicle fleet by about 35% from 1991 to 1995, the levels of these three pollutants in air have largely been maintained with their Air Quality Objectives values. However, as the Administration has been at pains to point out, to this Council and the public, air pollution from vehicle emissions remains a serious community health problem, mainly because of the high level of particulates emitted by diesel vehicles.

  2. There has been no reduction in petrol duties because the lower duty for unleaded petrol has been offset by the higher duty for leaded petrol.

  3. I believe it would be fair to say that the unleaded petrol policy has been cost-effective in minimizing air pollution taking into account the measured air quality benefits which I have mentioned, the fact that, as noted above, there is no cost to government, and that the pump price of unleaded petrol is less than leaded petrol and therefore affordable to motorists.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Secretary said in paragraph (a) of his reply that less than 20 tonnes of lead was emitted into the air per year, which amounted to a reduction of 50% from the 1991 figure. Can the Secretary inform this Council upon what basis was this figure being worked out? According to an analysis on the data collected from the air quality monitoring stations of the Environmental Protection Department, the lead content in air has risen from 64.73 microgrammes per cubic metre in 1991 to 93.48 microgrammes per cubic metre in 1993 and 83.44 microgrammes per cubic metre in 1994. Such findings are exactly contrary to the 50% reduction which the Secretary has told us. Could the Secretary give this Council an explanation?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: In answering this question, Mr President, can I ask whether the Honourable Member is referring to the annual measurement of lead or the quarterly measurement of lead? I was using the quarterly figure which at current level is below 0.15 microgrammes per cu m, as I said, and Mrs Miriam LAU may be referring to the annual measurement.

PRESIDENT: I think the main thrust of the question was whether it is rising instead of your claim that it has been falling, Secretary.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, I stand by what I said. The quantity of lead measured in the air as detected by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) now is actually below 0.15 microgrammes per cu m. MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, obviously the Secretary has not answered my question. If he has no data at hand, I hope he can give me a written answer.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: I can certainly do that, Mr President. (Annex I)

DR SAMUEL WONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, Mrs Miriam LAU's question stated that the Government had been levying lower duties on unleaded petrol (ULP) so as to encourage drivers to switch to the use of ULP. Can the Government clarify that it had not lowered the price of ULP at that time but had instead only increased the duty on leaded petrol, thus leading to a soar in the price of leaded petrol? If what I said is correct, then paragraph (b) of the Government's reply is wrong.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, the policy on petrol duty is not within my area, but I will try my best to answer this question. As I said in my main reply, the intention of the policy at that time was to equalize cost and revenue by raising the duty on leaded petrol and thus creating a differential whereby it would be cheaper for motorists to use unleaded petrol.

DR SAMUEL WONG (in Cantonese): Mr President, could the unanswered part of my question be replied in writing? It is because if what I said is true, then the Government is not encouraging the motorists to use unleaded petrol, instead, it is penalizing the motorists who use leaded petrol.

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: I think it is a matter of interpretation, Mr President, because we could have increased leaded petrol duty regardless of whether unleaded petrol was introduced at that time. But the differential in duty policy at that time was we would raise the duty on leaded petrol and thus making unleaded petrol cheaper to use.

PRESIDENT: And you are saying whether we ought to describe half a bottle of wine as half-empty or half-full. (Laughter)

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Your wisdom is beyond me, Mr President. (Laughter)

MR RONALD ARCULLI: Mr President, in view of the answers given to the two previous supplementary questions, I wonder whether the Secretary will consider going away with the question originally asked by my colleague, Mrs LAU, and perhaps consulting the EPD about it and giving us a full written answer, hopefully explaining the discrepancies that both Mrs LAU and Mr WONG have highlighted?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Yes, I would, Mr President. (Annex II)

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Secretary said in his reply that since the introduction of unleaded petrol, the three-month average level of lead in air was below 0.15 microgrammes per cubic metre, which was below 10% of the Air Quality Objective value. I cannot figure out if "below the Air Quality Objective value" is better or worse than the Air Quality Objective. If it is on the worse side ─ then my question would also be related to the one asked by the Honourable Mr Samuel WONG ─ does that imply that the duty imposed by the Government cannot persuade people to switch to unleaded petrol?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, I think the reverse is true. Perhaps I will spend a bit of time explaining what we mean by Air Quality Objectives. We set up such objectives on seven components of our air. They include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, respirable suspended particulates, total suspended particulates, ozone and lead.

For lead, our Air Quality Objective, which is actually stated in the Regulations to the Air Pollution Ordinance, is at a quarterly measurement as 1.5 microgrammes per cu m. Any excess of that means that we fall behind, or rather we exceed it, or rather we become bad in terms of our air quality in respect of that count. Our objective is Hong Kong should not exceed a quarterly measurement average of 1.5 microgrammes per cu m. As I explained in my principal reply, the current measurement is 0.15 microgrammes per cu m and, that is, we are at 10% of the worst case scenario which we can accept.

PRESIDENT: Mr Edward HO, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MR EDWARD HO (in Cantonese): Mr President, I still do not understand. I want to ask the Secretary whether the air quality we have now is better or worse than the objective. This is a very simple question, but I could not understand the reply he gave just now.

PRESIDENT: I think the explaining ought to be done at a Panel meeting. But Secretary, please answer the very simple question: better than or worse than the objective?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, in a simple layman's term, we are only 10% of the worst case scenario, meaning we are very good on that count.

PRESIDENT: It is still very technical. (Laughter)

DR JOHN TSE (in Cantonese): Mr President, we all know that leaded petrol would affect our health adversely, especially the children's. Does the Government have any timetable or planning to stop the use of leaded petrol? If there is no timetable, what will the Government do?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, we are continually monitoring the situation. If we want to use a different type or content of fuel, we have to take into account three factors. The first factor is whether such fuel is actually manufactured and available and also available in Hong Kong. The second is whether car technology and car manufacturing will be able to make the best use of such fuel. And the third is whether in the circumstances of the place concerned, legislation or other enforcement measures and standards can be set to reach that target. In Hong Kong, we look at all three continuously and monitor the situation. As soon as there is available evidence to demonstrate that lower leaded fuel is available, and when car technology can match, we will consider amending our legislation.

MRS SELINA CHOW: Mr President, could the Secretary explain how it can be logical to substantiate paragraph (b) of the answer that there has been reduction in petrol duties, when the Government has in fact made every effort to induce the phasing-in of unleaded petrol and the phasing-out of leaded petrol by applying lower duty on the former and higher duty on the latter?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, the statement I gave was the policy at that time of how we wanted to introduce a programme. Of course, it is possible that, as time goes on and the market shares of leaded petrol and unleaded petrol may change and fluctuate from time to time, the original equalization formula is not exactly the same.

I have nothing further to add to what I have said, but if any further detailed calculations are required, I will be quite happy to consult my colleagues in the Finance Branch and see when further information can be provided.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, paragraph (a) of the reply mentioned that air pollution remains a serious community health problem. Can the Secretary inform this Council whether the Government will conduct a survey to find out what harmful effect of lead in air will have on people's health?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS: Mr President, can I suggest, with your permission, that we discuss this at the Panel of the Council as there are numerous publications available already on the harmful effect of lead in air to health.

Award of Compensation under Public Finance Ordinance

4. MR ANDREW CHENG asked (in Cantonese): Mr President, under section 18A(1) of the Public Finance Ordinance, the Legislative Council may by resolution award compensation, by way of either a single payment or periodical payments, from the general revenue of the Colony to any person injured in the execution of a moral or legal duty to assist in the prevention of or resistance to crime or any offence, or to the dependants of a person so injured who dies as a result of such injury. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the specific policy governing the application of this provision;

  2. of the circumstances under which the Government will apply this provision; and

  3. of the criteria adopted by the Government for determining the amount of compensation?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, the provisions in section 18(A)1 in the Public Finance Ordinance first featured in the Compensation (Special Cases) Ordinance enacted in 1949. These provisions were subsequently transferred first to the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance enacted in 1966, and then to the Public Finance Ordinance in 1993. When moving the Compensation (Special Cases) Bill in July 1949, the then Attorney General explained that the object was to provide an enabling measure for the award of compensation to a person injured or to the dependants of a person killed in fulfilling a duty to uphold the law. It was made clear then that the legislation would not attempt to prescribe the conditions or circumstances in which an award of compensation should be made or the amount which should be awarded as this would enable each case to be judged on its merits. This remains the situation today.

That said, the provisions have not been used for a long time, certainly not at all since their transfer to the Public Finance Ordinance. This is because the Administration may award compensation and ex-gratia payments using normal Estimates procedures under the Public Finance Ordinance. Provision for such award is made under Head 106 Miscellaneous Services Subhead 284 ─ Compensation and is approved by this Council annually in the context of the Appropriation Bill. Any supplementary provision required during the year may be approved by the Finance Committee or by delegated authority as appropriate. That subhead provides for the grant of ex-gratia payments and the settlement of claims made against the Government (other than those compensation which should be charged to specific subheads, such as those connected with land, public works, mail and for civil servants under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance).

MR ANDREW CHENG (in Cantonese): Mr President, at the Legislative Council Sitting on 12 March 1969, the Government first invoked the Ordinance concerned to pass a resolution for the payment of compensation to persons injured or killed in the course of crime prevention. According to the records of that Sitting, Members at that time hoped that the Government could improve the administrative measures concerned and they demanded the Government to take the initiative of invoking the Ordinance in question for the purpose of allocating funds to such persons. Will the Government now follow the decision reached by the Legislative Council at that time and take the initiative to invoke the Ordinance? Or, will the Government delete section 18A(1) of the Public Finance Ordinance altogether, given the Secretary for Treasury's reply today that there are other alternatives to allocate funds for compensation?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, when the relevant provisions were transferred from the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance to the Public Finance Ordinance, it was part of an overall exercise in the review of the provisions of the former Ordinance. Therefore, at that time, no consideration was given as to whether or not there is a continued need for section 18A(1) in the Public Finance Ordinance. And in our view, it is in fact desirable and preferable to use normal Estimates procedures where it becomes necessary and justified to consider and make awards of compensation under Head 106 Miscellaneous Services Subhead 284 ─ Compensation.

Where it is necessary and justified, I am sure that my departmental and branch colleagues will take the initiative to consider the necessary compensation cases.

MR BRUCE LIU (in Cantonese): Mr President, the reply says that the relevant provisions have not been used for a long time. But not having been used for a long time is not equivalent to not having been invoking at all. Will the Government confirm whether there have been any instances of invoking2 these provisions in the 44 years between 1949 and 1993? The Government appears to have avoided this. If the provisions have never been used, will the Government say that this actually indicates that normal Estimate procedures under the Public Finance Ordinance can adequately and appropriately take the place of section 18A(1)? I ask this question because normal Estimates procedures can enable the Government to reserve funding for the purpose while section 18A(1) makes it difficult for the Government to do this. Is that the case?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, I have not tried to avoid answering questions about whether or not section 18A of the Public Finance Ordinance has been used or not in the past. I think I made a very clear answer to that: it has not. But the previous provision before its transfer, as far as we could trace from our records, is that they have been used twice. In 1969, two Resolutions to award compensations were approved under section 95(1) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance then.

As to the second part of the Honourable Member's question, as I have said, it is in our view preferable and more desirable to use normal Estimates procedures to consider compensation cases.

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, in those cases referred to by the Secretary, the criteria used for calculating the amount has been equivalent, or more or less equivalent, to the amount of a civil claim arising from the incident. Will the Secretary inform this Council whether under Subhead 284 the same criteria is going to be adopted by the Administration?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, in fact, I have read the relevant Hansard records and I am afraid it is not as precise as suggested by the Honourable Member. The records do show that the amount of compensation was based on the assessed needs of the deceased's dependants in both cases, but it is not entirely clear as to precisely how the amount was arrived at. I am afraid the detailed records have been lost in the mist of time.

That said, I think the essential point that we would wish to bear in mind is that in considering ex-gratia compensation or payments, we have to consider each case on its merits and we have to consider all the circumstances involved, and that would be the approach that we would adopt when considering compensation under the normal Estimates procedures.

PRESIDENT: Miss NG, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MISS MARGARET NG: Mr President, I look for clarification referring to the cases referred to by the Secretary. Mr President, if I may refer the Secretary to one of those cases, I think it is the first case in 1969 made to one Mrs CHAN Lai-chuen ......

PRESIDENT: Miss NG, I will put you down for a further supplementary so that other Members may have a chance.

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Mr President, from the second paragraph of the Secretary's reply, it is clear that the law on compensation is as antiquated as it is mean. May I seek clarification from the Secretary that Head 106 Miscellaneous Subhead 284 ─ Compensation only covers the settlement of claims made against the Government. I raise this question specifically because arising from recent media reports, a civilian hero, in attempting to foil an armed-robbery gang, was paralyzed in the process and won a little pittance for his bravery from which sum he had to pay legal costs. So, the follow-up to that question, which is the same question, is: If Head 106 Miscellaneous Services Subhead 284 only covers cases against the Government, is there a fund to compensate people who are injured in the process of helping police in combating crime, and to cover legal costs? If not, why not? PRESIDENT: Mrs WONG, are you extending the question to cover compensation towards the police?

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Yes. Mr President, it is in respect of the final paragraph of the Secretary's reply where he stated in his reply that Head 106 Miscellaneous Services Subhead 284 ─wwCompensation covers the settlement ......

PRESIDENT: Mrs WONG, I think we heard you loud and clear. I suppose if section 18A of the Public Finance Ordinance was agreed to by the Government and if the Government is prepared to use it, it can cover police cases too.

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, perhaps I read my answer too quickly because the last sentence reads like this:

"That subhead provides for the grant of ex-gratia payments and the settlement of claims made against the Government"

So in fact it does cover not only settlement of claims against the Government, and in the case referred to by the Honourable Member, I understand that it is being considered by my colleague, the Secretary for Security, and I would defer to him if he would wish to elaborate.

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY: Mr President, we are at the moment considering the making of an award to Mr YEUNG in the light of his bravery and public spirit, although the Government has no legal liability to Mr YEUNG. But given the circumstances surrounding the incident which led to Mr YEUNG's injury, we feel that we should award him an ex-gratia payment in recognition of his gallant act in trying to stop crime, and to ensure that he and his family can enjoy a stable living, notwithstanding his injury.

A small group convened by the Security Branch and comprising representatives of relevant branches and departments is considering the details of the case, including such questions as the appropriate amount of the award and the manner in which payment should be made.

PRESIDENT: Mrs WONG, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Mr President, may I ask that the two Secretaries accept ......

PRESIDENT: Which part of your question has not been answered?

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Mr President, can I finish my sentence? May I ask that the two Secretaries ......

PRESIDENT: Which part of your question has not been answered, Mrs WONG?

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Both parts have. May I ask? Can I finish my question please, Mr President, before you rule it out of order?

PRESIDENT: If you claim that your question has not been answered, state which part?

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: Both questions have been answered. May I ask that the Secretaries accept my personal gratitude for their generosity and sympathy in considering the case.

PRESIDENT: Mrs WONG, please state the part of a question that has not been answered.

MRS ELIZABETH WONG: I was saying that they have both answered my questions. May I ask that they accept my gratitude. That is the question.

PRESIDENT: You are not supposed to make a speech, Mrs WONG, and please refrain from doing so in future.

MRS SELINA CHOW: Mr President, the Secretary for the Treasury has in fact repeatedly said that each case should be judged on its own merits. In view of the questions that have been asked of the past and of this case which is now widely debated in public, does the Government intend to establish a set of basic criteria against which cases will be assessed? And if not, how can the Government ensure that such cases would be assessed fairly and consistently?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, I am afraid I have to emphasize that each case will indeed have to be assessed on its own merits. Whether an award should be granted would normally depend on the following factors:

    - whether the Government is legally liable;

    - the role of the person seeking the compensation and the damage; and

    - the extent of loss or injury sustained.

As to the amount of award, it is always a fine balance between the need to be prudent with the use of taxpayers' money and the judgment on what a reasonable amount would be, having regard to all the relevant factors. The factors for consideration would normally include the extent to which the Government is liable, the circumstances leading to the damage, loss or injury, and the circumstances of the person seeking compensation.

To help us arrive at a reasonable amount, we invariably seek legal advice from our colleagues in the Attorney General's Chambers, draw reference from relevant similar precedent cases, and consult the responsible Policy Branches and departments.

MR WONG WAI-YIN (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Secretary for Security have basically answered the questions I wanted to ask. I just want to follow up on one point mentioned by the Secretary for the Treasury in paragraph 2 of his reply, which says the provisions have not been used at all since their transfer to the Public Finance Ordinance, because the Administration may use normal Estimates procedures, under Head 106 Miscellaneous Service Subhead 284, to award compensation. What are the circumstances and criteria governing the Government's decision to use the Public Finance Ordinance or Head 106 Miscellaneous Service Subhead 294 to award compensation? What criteria are used to decide, whether it is the Public Finance Ordinance or Head 106?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, as I have said, our preference is to use normal Estimates procedures and a request or suggestion for ex-gratia payment is normally first considered by the responsible department or Policy Branch. The Policy Branch will, if it considers it justified, make a recommendation to us, Finance Branch, for an award of ex-gratia payment. In recommending an award, the Policy Branch or department concerned would set out the details of the case and the justification for making the award, and the proposed amount of award.

Legal advice will be sought and the relevant branches and departments will be consulted before a decision is made on whether an award should be granted and how much the amount should be.

So, in a nutshell, the initiative rests with the relevant department and Policy Branch.

PRESIDENT: Secretary, the question was what criteria would you adopt to decide whether you invoke section 18A of the Public Finance Ordinance or use the normal procedure?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, as I have said, our preference is to use the normal Estimates procedure and so far there has not been a single case which cannot be dealt with in that way.

MR WONG WAI-YIN (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Secretary for the Treasury has not answered my question.

PRESIDENT: Mr WONG, The answer was given.

MR WONG WAI-YIN (in Cantonese): But according to his reply, the Government generally prefers ......

PRESIDENT: The answer was the Government is not prepared to use section 18A of the Public Finance Ordinance.

MR WONG WAI-YIN (in Cantonese): But the Government should not do things out of preference!

PRESIDENT: This is not a debate, may I remind you, Mr WONG.

DR ANTHONY CHEUNG (in Cantonese): Mr President, since the Secretary for the Treasury said section 18A(1) of the Public Finance Ordinance had not been used at all, and it was the preference of the Government to use normal Estimates procedure to award the relevant compensation and so on, will the Government consider amending section 18A(1) of the Public Finance Ordinance?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY: Mr President, I thank the Honourable Member for his advice and will consider that when the opportunity arises.

PRESIDENT: And you may wish to seek his support too.

Origin of Goods Procured by Government Supplies Department

5. MISS EMILY LAU asked (in Cantonese): Regarding the countries of origin of goods procured by the Government Supplies Department, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the criteria for determining the countries from which goods are to be procured;

  2. of the percentage of the value of the goods procured from Britain out of the total value of all the goods procured in the past two years; and

  3. whether it has any plans to procure more goods manufactured in China in the future; if so, what the reasons are; and whether it will in future continue to adopt the criteria specified in the answer to (a) above for determining the countries from which goods are to be procured?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, the answers to the three parts of the question are as follows:

  1. We operate a level playing field in Government procurement. Our aim is to ensure open and fair competition amongst domestic and foreign suppliers. We select the offers that represent best value for money, having regard to their suitability for the users' requirements, competitiveness in price, maintenance and other operational costs, and to reliability of performance and, where applicable, after-sale services. The country of origin of the goods is not a consideration in the award of contracts.

  2. The United Kingdom accounted for 9.7% and 12.0% respectively of the total value of contracts, at HK$50,000 or more each, for goods procured by the Government Supplies Department in 1994 and 1995. Further details of the market share by major suppliers are set out in the table appended to the written version of my reply. We do not have the breakdown by country of origin for small value contracts.

  3. We have no intention to change the purchasing policy outlined in my answer to the first part of the question.

Contracts classified by country of origin of the goods
(value listed in descending order)

Contracts classified by country of origin of the goods
(value listed in descending order)


1994



1995



Country

Value

Market share


Country

Value

Market share



(in HK$ million)




(in HK$ million)










1.

United States

1,332.3

31.6%

1.

United States

1,528.0

34.2%

2.

United Kingdom

407.8

9.7%

2.

United Kingdom

533.8

12.0%

3.

China

341.1

8.1%

3.

Germany

422.2

9.5%

4.

Germany

222.9

5.3%

4.

China

363.3

8.1%

5.

Japan

193.4

4.6%

5.

Japan

208.8

4.7%

6.

Singapore

181.9

4.3%

6.

Hong Kong

152.4

3.4%

7.

Australia

125.7

3.0%

7.

Switzerland

129.4

2.9%

8.

France

100.2

2.4%

8.

France

109.1

2.4%

9.

Switzerland

96.0

2.3%

9.

Holland

100.6

2.3%

10.

Hong Kong

95.0

2.2%

10.

Malaysia

98.8

2.2%

11.

Others

1,116.3

26.5%

11.

Others

817.1

18.3%











4,212.6

100%



4,463.5

100%

Note: The above statistics show the contracts of HK$50,000 or above awarded within the year

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Government mentions in the main reply that the criterion for its procurement of goods is value for money. At the same time it will provide a level playing field, having regard to their prices, competitiveness, reliability of performance and so on. We do support the said. From the table appended to the main reply, we learn that Hong Kong ranked tenth representing 2.2% of the market share in 1994 and rose to sixth in 1995, but representing only 3% to 4%. Does it indicate that both the competitiveness and reliability of Hong Kong goods are inferior to those of the other countries listed in the table?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, I think we cannot draw a conclusion from this because many of the goods that we procure, such as some hi-tech equipment or franchised goods, are not produced in Hong Kong. Therefore, even though Hong Kong goods represent a smaller share in the overall supply market, it does not mean that our goods are less competitive than those of other countries.

MR SIN CHUNG-KAI (in Cantonese): Mr President, what should the value of the contract for goods be to necessitate the calling of a public tender? And if the Government does not adopt the criterion of accepting the lowest offer, what procedures will it follow in approving the tender?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, in general, for contracts of a value of over HK$ 50,000, we will as far as possible award them by public tender. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances, if what we procure are, as I just said, franchised or exclusively produced goods, such as certain pharmaceuticals, then we cannot resort to a fully open tender. Besides, if the specifications of certain goods are rather special, we will go through a specification examination first before calling a public tender. Having decided on the detailed requirements for the goods, we will normally award the contract to the supplier who offers the lowest quotation if it can satisfy all requirements.

DR LAW CHEUNG-KWOK (in Cantonese): Mr President, in her recent written reply to me, the Secretary for Trade and Industry has confirmed that the American Government has recently prohibited all American government organizations from procuring Hong Kong products. I would like to ask whether the Hong Kong Government has considered taking corresponding retaliatory measures? If not, why not?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, I am not sure what exactly is the extent of the incident as mentioned by Dr LAW just now. It is thus quite difficult for me to answer. However, we generally will not make use of procurement pattern or policy as retaliatory means.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, we know that many countries and areas encourage the use of domestic goods when making procurement. In answering Miss LAU's question just now, the Secretary has not included this as one of the criteria. Other than hi-tech products, if the goods that the Government has to procure can equally be produced in Hong Kong and overseas, should we conform to the criterion of using local goods in the first place?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, as I have said in the main reply, the country of origin of goods is not a consideration in the award of contracts.

PRESIDENT: Miss CHAN, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): My question was whether the Government will take this as a criterion?

PRESIDENT: I think your question is the reverse of Dr LAW Cheung-kwok's question.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): They are different.

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, the answer is simply "no".

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, when answering Miss Emily LAU's supplementary question, the Secretary for the Treasury indicated that the goods procured from other countries might be hi-tech products. But I would like to remind the Secretary that the clothing industry of Hong Kong is very remarkable and my question is related to this aspect. Police uniforms were once made in Hong Kong but in the last tender, the successful bidder was a manufacturer who had his production line in Mainland China, because he offered a lower price. Will the Government spell out in future tendering procedures for government uniforms that bidders have to base their production in Hong Kong in order to put the spirit of "Hong Kong people using Hong Kong products" in practice while at the time protecting the employment opportunities of local workers? I think the most important thing is to demonstrate to the world that we have full confidence in the production quality of local clothing workers. If even the Hong Kong Government will not use local goods, how can foreign investors be convinced to come and buy Hong Kong goods?

PRESIDENT: The last two sentences were argumentative. Secretary for the Treasury, first part on police uniform. Should it be made locally?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, when we consider where to buy the uniform, we apply the same criteria as I have said in paragraph (a) of the main reply, that is, we must consider the principles such as value for money, while the country of origin is not a consideration.

PRESIDENT: Mr LEE, are you claiming that your question has not been answered?

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Yes, Mr President. If value for money is taken as a criterion, may I ask the Secretary if the Government has conducted a survey to find out whether the police is satisfied with the quality of the present uniform?

PRESIDENT: Purely argumentative. Miss Emily LAU, last supplementary.

MISS EMILY LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Secretary has repeatedly stressed that the country of origin of goods is not a consideration in the award of contracts and I do support this. Some government officials have recently expressed in public that since the quality of Chinese goods is improving and the prices are moderate, they will buy more Chinese goods in future. I raise this question on that basis. Mr President, is the Hong Kong Government planning to buy more Chinese goods in future?

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, when calling tenders in future, if Chinese goods turn out to be the most competitive by satisfying the criterion of value for money, thereby rendering an increase in the purchase of Chinese goods, it is only a natural outcome of an open and fair competition, instead of our subjective desire to buy more goods from certain countries.

WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

Ending Date of 1996-97 Legislative Council Session

6. MR LEE WING-TAT asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council whether the Governor has any authority to appoint a date after 30 June 1997 as the ending date of the 1996-97 Legislative Council session; if so, what the legal basis for such authority is; if not, whether the Governor will appoint a date on or before 30 June 1997 as the ending date of the 1996-97 Legislative Council session?

CHIEF SECRETARY (in Chinese): Mr President, The Governor's power to appoint the end date of a Legislative Council session derives from Clause XXIA(1) of the Royal Instructions (RI). There is no legal constraint in our existing constitutional instruments that would prevent the Governor from making an order to appoint a date after 30 June 1997 as the end date of the 1996-97 Legislative Council session, so long as the order is made whilst the RI are in force. However, any such appointment will cease to have legal effect after 30 June 1997 since, by operation of the Hong Kong Act 1985, the RI will lapse after that date when Britain ceases to have sovereignty over Hong Kong.

According to past practice, the end of a Legislative Council session is usually fixed shortly before the last sitting date of that session, which would have been determined previously by the President of Legislative Council. We see no reason to depart from this normal practice in appointing the end date of the 1996-97 the Legislative Council session.

Unauthorized Night Works at Lai King Station

7. MR LEE WING-TAT asked (in Chinese): As the contractor of the project for the construction of the Lai King station of the Airport Railway has repeatedly carried out construction works late at night without the permission of the authority concerned, will the Government inform this Council whether the contractor has been prosecuted; if so, what the result was; and how it will prevent such unauthorized activities from recurring?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Chinese): Mr President, The contractor of the Airport Railway at Lai King MTR Station was issued a Construction Noise Permit in January 1996 to operate specified Powered Mechanical Equipment up to 11 pm at night. However, subsequent spot checks conducted by Environmental Protection Department revealed breaches of the Permit conditions. As a result, the Constructing Noise Permit was cancelled on 22 March 1996. Prosecution action against the offender was taken and the hearing will be held on 18 July 1996. A further site survey made on 25 March found no more breaches of the Noise Control Ordinance.

After cancellation of the Permit, the contractor submitted a fresh application for a Construction Noise Permit, together with proposals for noise abatement measures to be implemented when Powered Mechanical Equipment are used. The application meets the requirements of the Noise Control Ordinance and a new Construction Noise Permit was issued on 3 April 1996. The Permit limits the maximum number of Powered Mechanical Equipment that can be used at the site and requires noise abatement measures to be implemented. The contractor has been reminded to comply diligently with all Permit conditions. The Environmental Protection Department will continue to monitor the site to ensure compliance with the conditions of the Permit. So far, no further violation of the Noise Control Ordinance has been found.

Pre-sale of Uncompleted Small Houses

8. MR LO SUK-CHING asked (in Chinese): In view of the occurrence of several incidents of pre-sale of uncompleted small houses involving fraud and other disputes in recent months, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether the pre-sale of uncompleted small house is illegal;

  2. whether it will consider legalizing the sale and purchase of uncompleted small houses and monitoring such activities; if not, whether it will consider introducing measures to prevent prospective buyers from being cheated; and

  3. which government department is responsible for controlling the sale and purchase of uncompleted small houses?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Chinese): Mr President, under the small house policy, an indigenous male villager over the age of 18 is allowed to apply either for a building licence at nil premium to build a small house in his own land or for the grant, at a concessionary premium of two-thirds of the full market value, of a site on Government land for the same purpose.

All small house grants made under the small house policy are subject to restrictions on alienation:

  1. for grants of government sites within village environs of recognized villages, the restriction is perpetual. Lands Department will only consider applications for modifying the restriction after the development of the small house has been completed and a certificate of compliance has been obtained. Any approval given will also be subject to the payment of a premium and an administration fee, and the execution of a modification document;

  2. for grants of government sites in Village Expansion Areas, the restriction is perpetual. The Lands Department would only consider modifying the restriction on alienation after the lapse of three years following the issue of the certificate of compliance; and

  3. for grants in respect of land owned by the villagers, the period of restriction is five years. The conditions for modifying the restriction on alienation are the same as those in category (i).

Unless and until the above restrictions are no longer in force, any other form of disposal of any interests in the small house development would amount to a breach of the lease conditions.

  1. The presale of uncompleted houses on lots which have been granted to indigenous villagers under the small house policy is a breach of the lease conditions.

  2. We do not consider that the presale of uncompleted small houses should be permitted or legalized. Grants under the small house policy are made, on concessionary terms, to eligible indigenous villagers so as to assist them to improve their living conditions. Hence, restrictions against alienation should be retained. Permission to allow for the transaction of uncompleted small houses will go against the principle of the small house policy.

    Prospective purchasers should always approach their solicitors or other professional representatives for advice if they have any doubts before committing themselves to any purchases or handing over any deposits.

  3. The District Lands Office is responsible for the day to day administration of matters including lease enforcement action relating to small house grants. Any deception cases involving small houses would be investigated by the Royal Hong Kong Police Force.

Lunch Arrangements for School Children

9. MR CHEUNG MAN-KWONG asked (in Chinese): According to a recent survey on lunch arrangements for school children conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, there is a rising trend of school children staying in school for lunch and the number of schools using the delivery service provided by lunch box suppliers has also increased. As the choice of food will directly affect the health and physical development of the next generation, will the Government inform this Council whether, and if so how, it will address the recommendations made in the survey report, including:

  1. undertaking a comprehensive assessment and planning on lunch arrangements for school children, and introducing effective monitoring measures to ensure that school children are provided with hygienic and nutritious meals;

  2. reviewing the existing measures and guidelines concerning lunch arrangements for school children and monitoring their implementation to ensure that the prescribed standards are met;

  3. incorporating the provision of venues of having lunches in the list of standard facilities for new school premises; and

  4. promoting and encouraging parent-teacher associations to monitor and manage the lunch arrangements for school children, and stepping up publicity to remind parents and students of the effects of eating habits on health?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Mr President, meal arrangements for students in schools are matters of concern to the Education Department. The Education Department advises schools through two circulars on operation of tuckshops and on arranging meals from licensed food establishments. Turning to the specific parts of the questions:

  1. Given the trend the more students are staying in school for lunch and that more whole-day primary schools are coming on stream, the Education Department is conducting a review on existing lunch arrangements which includes monitoring measures. The Department expects to complete the review by August 1996.

  2. The Education Department's review as described in paragraph (a) above includes a careful examination of the existing guidelines to schools with a view to updating and supplementing them as necessary. The Department aims to issue the new guidelines to schools before the start of the new school year in September 1996. In the new circular, schools will be encouraged to form co-ordination groups to supervise, co-ordinate and improve meal arrangements for students.

  3. A school can make use of its existing accommodation, such as covered playground or assembly hall, to cater for students staying in school for lunch. We consider the present arrangement to be both flexible and cost-effective. Providing additional accommodation solely for students to use during lunch break will not be an optimal way of using space in view of the sizeable area required and the low utilization rate.

  4. We agree that parent-teacher associations can play an active role in managing and monitoring meal arrangements in schools and promote healthy eating habits among students. Through the new guidelines to be issued in October 1996, the Education Department will encourage schools to involve their parent-teacher associations in the co-ordination groups on meal arrangements in schools.

    It is also important to cultivate in students good eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Education on health and nutritional value is promoted through the teaching of a number of subjects namely, Health Education, Social Studies and Science at the primary level and Home Economics, Social Studies and science subjects at the secondary level. Through these subjects, students will learn about the effects of various types of food on the body and food hygiene, and will understand the importance of a balanced diet to personal health.

    In addition, the Education Department organizes regular in-service education programmes to enhance and update teachers' knowledge on food nutrition and meal arrangements for students.

Capacity of Telephone Lines

10. MR HENRY TANG asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the existing capacity of the telephone lines, including optical-fibre network, used for calls transmission;

  2. of the proportion of the total capacity of the optical-fibre network that is used for calls transmission;

  3. weather the Government has any information on the number of telephone lines used for other value-added services, and its proportion in the total number of telephone lines; and

  4. whether the existing optical-fibre network can cope with the load when all telephone lines are used for other value-added services; if not, what the future development plan for the optical-fibre network is?

SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES (in Chinese): Mr President,

  1. In March 1996, the Hong Kong Telephone Company network consisted of 3.3m lines, of which about 40 000 are provided with fibre-optic connections from the local exchange. In addition, 92% of the connections between one exchange and another are using fibre-optics.

  2. The telephone network does not distinguish between telephonic and non-telephonic messages passing through the network. We do not have data indicating the proportion of the messages which are telephonic.

  3. Some indicative figures only on value-added traffic are available. During April 1994 to March 1995, the total both way occupancy traffic (that is incoming and outgoing) passing through the telephone network amounted to about 51 300 million minutes, of which local calls were estimated to account for some 45 210 million minutes, international calls 3 450 million minutes and other identifiable types of traffic (such as licensed public value-added services 2 640 million minutes. The 45 210 million minutes of local calls include telephonic and non-telephonic (such as fax and computer communications) usage. Separate breakdowns on telephonic and non-telephonic traffic are not available.

  4. The existing network is designed to carry the present normal traffic levels, including the current level of value-added traffic. A quality of service standard is imposed on HKTC to ensure that 99% of the calls in the busiest hour are successfully connected. If there is in future a significant increase in the volume of value-added traffic, HKTC might need to make additional investment in switching and other network elements in order to carry such additional traffic and to maintain the current grade of service. The three new Fixed Telecommunication Network Service Licensees are also constructing their own optical fibre backbone networks which will be able, when completed, to share some of the traffic loading of the HKTC network.

Comprehensive Redevelopment Area Planning Approach

11. MR ALBERT CHAN asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the number of redevelopment projects which have been undertaken since the adoption of the Comprehensive Redevelopment Area (CRA) planning approach;

  2. how it will assess whether such a planning approach has been successful; and

  3. how it can ensure that the property ownership rights of residents in the CRAs will not be affected by the redevelopment projects undertaken by the Land Development Corporation and the Hong Kong Housing Society?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Chinese): Mr President,

  1. Fifteen redevelopment schemes designated as "comprehensive development area" (CDA) on the outline zoning plans have been implemented. Another sixteen schemes have received planning and building plan approval and are at various stages of implementation. Thirty-six other schemes are under planning.

  2. There are no hard and fast rules by which we evaluate the effectiveness of the CDA designation. The success or otherwise of such an approach would depend on the specific circumstances in each case. However, having regard to the substantial number of schemes already implemented through this method, such as Whampoa Garden, City Garden and Tsuen Wan West, the comprehensive provision of supporting facilities within such developments and the popularity of these developments among local residents, we could say that this approach is successful. In this connection, it should be noted that many CDAs are so zoned at the request of the land owners.

    Moreover, it is Town Planning Board's policy to review each CDA zone every five years since its first publication on a statutory plan. The idea is to review the feasibility of achieving the planning objectives within a reasonable time frame. This is one way to assess whether the CDA approach has been successful.

  3. Development rights of individual owners are protected by the relevant Ordinances under which compensation would be payable if the properties are acquired or resumed for redevelopment. Any person who is not satisfied with the compensation may appeal to the Lands Tribunal for a determination.

Development of Kowloon-Canton Railway Stations

12. MR CHAN KAM-LAM asked (in Chinese): As the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) is planning to apply to the Government for the development of commercial and residential premises on top of its stations at Kowloon Tong and Sha Tin, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the progress of the negotiation between the Government and the KCRC on the matter; and

  2. whether the Government will require the KCRC to include the construction of multi-storey carparks in its development plan, thus putting into effect the "park-and-ride" concept, so as to alleviate traffic congestion in the Lion Rock Tunnel and urban areas?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Chinese): Mr President, as one of the measures to reduce traffic congestion, we support the provision of park and ride facilities at railway stations to encourage commuters to continue their trips to busy districts by public transport. Indeed, we have taken the opportunity to ensure that adequate parking facilities are included in development proposals for major stations and interchanges, for examples, at the Central and Tsing Yi Stations of the Airport Railway.

An initial proposal for a commercial development at Kowloon Tong Station has been submitted by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) to the Town Planning Board. This proposal is being assessed in terms of land use planning, traffic, urban design and other relevant factors. No decisions have been taken. We will be consulted and will assess the feasibility of incorporating park and ride facilities in this project.

KCRC has just commenced a preliminary study on the development potential of the Sha tin Station. No application has yet been received from the Corporation. Should the Corporation decide to redevelop this site, the provision of park and ride facilities will be examined.

Diesel-to-Petrol Scheme

13. MR LEUNG YIU-CHUNG asked (in Chinese): The Government published the consultation paper "Cleaner Air ─ Further Proposals to Reduce Emissions from Diesel Vehicles" last year to seek the views of the public on the proposed mandatory Diesel-to-Petrol (DTP) Scheme for diesel vehicles of four tonnes or below, and the consultation period expired at the end of last year. A motion was also carried by this Council on 13 December last year urging the Government to review the scheme and replace the proposed mandatory scheme with incentive measures to attract owners of diesel vehicles to change to petrol vehicles on a voluntary basis. Up to the present moment, the Government has still not released the results of the consultation and its review of the scheme. In view of this, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the public response to the recommendations put forward in the consultation paper and the ratio between the views in favour of the DTP Scheme and those against it;

  2. of the progress in collating the views submitted by the public in response to the consultation paper, and the date of making a formal announcement of the results of the consultation; and

  3. whether it has considered shelving the proposed mandatory DTP Scheme?

SECRETARY FOR PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT AND LANDS (in Chinese): Mr President,

  1. At the end of the consultation period on 31 December 1995, a total of 1 327 written submissions had been received. Of these, 1 250 are identical letters in four versions and 77 are submissions from organizations and individuals. Reactions to the proposed diesel to petrol scheme are mixed. Views were expressed on health and environment issues, on operating costs, and on implementation arrangements. All the identical letters and about two-thirds of the submissions are opposed to the scheme. About one-third are in support.

  2. We are re-examining the proposals in the light of the divergent views that have been expressed in the written submissions, and in the light of comments made by Members of the Legislative Council during the Motion Debate on this issue on 13 December 1995. A formal report on the consultation exercise will be published shortly. The Administration is working on a paper to set out the options for the control of emissions from diesel vehicles and their pros and cons and hope to be able to discuss it with the relevant Panels of the Legislative Council soon.

  3. We have not as yet considered shelving the scheme because we remain of the view that only a substantial reduction of diesel vehicles can tackle the serious problem of particulate pollution, and that the proposed diesel to petrol scheme is the most effective way to do this. However, in the light of comments received, we are exploring alternative measures to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles to see if such measures could sufficiently improve air quality to safeguard public health. These will be covered in the options paper mentioned above.

Tram Accidents

14. DR JOHN TSE asked (in Chinese): In view of the frequent occurrence of tram accidents recently, will the Government inform this Council of:

  1. given that the authorities concerned at present do not conduct periodic checks on trams, whether the Government will consider changing the existing mechanism for inspecting tram safety and conducting periodic checks on trams in the near future;

  2. of the training period which tram drivers are currently required to undergo before they are permitted to drive trams; and whether the Government will consider introducing legislation to regulate the training of tram drivers; and

  3. in regard to the review being undertaken jointly by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and the Hong Kong Tramways Limited on the maintenance programme of trams, of the items covered in the review, the progress of the review and when it is expected to complete?

SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT (in Chinese): Mr President, Hong Kong Tramways has full responsibility for the maintenance and inspection of its tram cars and, indeed, al tram cars are subject to functional checks daily both before they leave the depot and on their return. The Government does not conduct any periodic checks. The Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services (DEMS) investigates each accident to ascertain whether it has been caused by equipment faults. Should the company subsequently seek to modify tram cars, the approval of DEMS must first be sought.

Following the recent accidents, DEMS has suggested that Hong Kong Tramways should review the wiring system and electrical equipment. These aspects have been included in the scope of a consultancy study which the company intends to commission very soon. The company expects that the consultant will need 10 weeks to make available his preliminary findings. The Government will be consulted on the findings and will then decide whether additional regulations for maintenance and safety of tram cars need be introduced.

In keeping with international practice for transport modes running on tracks, the Administration does not regulate the training of tram drivers through legislation. The driver training programme now provided by Hong Kong Tramways for its trainees covers an eight week period. Apart from training on road use, equipment handling, safety precautions and emergency procedures, it also includes about 100 hours of driving practice on roads. In addition, trainees are required to pass a written driving test before they qualify as tram drivers,

To see how their current programme can be enhanced, Hong Kong Tramways will also seek their consultant's advice on recruitment procedures and the training programme. Meanwhile the company has also liaised with the Hong Kong School of Motoring to see whether their current core programme for tram drivers can be broadened to include other road skills.

Workplace Insurance Enforcement

15. MR CHOY KAN-PUI asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council of:

  1. the current number of staff in the Labour Department responsible for inspecting industrial, commercial as well as services organizations to ensure that employers have taken out insurance policies for their employees; and whether the present staff establishment of the Department is adequate to cope with such work; and

  2. the number of employers who were found failing to take out insurance policies for their employees, as well as the number of employers who were found taking out insurance policies at an insured amount which did not meet the statutory requirement, in each of the past three years; how the Labour Department came to know of such cases; whether the employers concerned were prosecuted and if so, what the results were?

SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER (in Chinese): Mr President,

  1. At present, 123 Labour Inspectors are deployed, among other duties, to inspect industrial and non-industrial establishments to ensure that employers have taken out employees' compensation insurance policies for their employees. The existing staff establishment is adequate to cope with such work.

  2. The number of cases detected by the Labour Department involving employers who had failed to take out employees' compensation insurance policies in the past three years were: 692 in 1993, 849 in 1994 and 726 in 1995. Most of these cases were detected by Labour Inspectors during regular inspections while the remainder came to light during investigation of complaints or work-related injuries. The Labour Department had prosecuted those offenders where prima facie cases were established. For cases of a minor nature or where no prosecution witness could be secured, warnings were issued to the employers concerned. The detailed breakdown is as follows:

199319941995
Cases of failure to take out insurance policy

692849726
Cases detected during inspections

660802660
No. of summonses issued

353347530
No. of summonses convicted

331331514
Amount of fines on conviction

$400-
$12,000
$500-
$14,000
$800-
$20,000

The statutory requirement of the insured amounts are specified in the Fourth Schedule of the Employees' Compensation Ordinance. No employer has been found taking out insurance policy below the statutory limit since its enactment in 1995.

OECD Classification of Hong Kong

16. MISS EMILY LAU asked (in Chinese): Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether it knows of the criteria adopted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for classifying whether a country is a developed country;

  2. whether the OECD has carried out any assessment regarding the category into which Hong Kong should be put; if so, what category does Hong Kong come under; and

  3. if the answer to (b) is in the affirmative, whether the Government is aware of the factors which the OECD has taken into account in classifying Hong Kong; whether the Government has assessed the impact of the influx of Chinese immigrants in recent years on the territory's economy and whether such impact will be helpful to Hong Kong in obtaining the "developed territory" classification from the OECD?

SECRETARY FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY (in Chinese): Mr President, the OECD does not have a category of "developed country" in its classifications.

Purely to provide a guide to aid patterns in a changing world and to form the basis for the collection of comprehensive and comparable statistical information on aid and other resource flows, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) compiles a list entitled the "DAC List of Aid Recipients". This list, updated regularly, consists of two parts. Part I lists those least developed countries and income groups based on regularly updated World Bank thresholds. Part II lists those developing countries and territories in transition, with a subcategory entitled "More Advanced Developing Countries and Territories" which is devoted to those places progressing from Part I of the list.

On 1 January 1997, Hong Kong will be moved from Part I to Part II of the list and put under the subcategory of "More Advanced Developing Countries and Territories". Six countries, namely: The Bahamas, Brunei, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore and United Arab Emirates, were moved similarly on 1 January 1996.

Immigration from China provides a useful source of manpower supply which is conducive to raising the productive capacity and growth potential of our economy. While the increase in legal immigrants from China in recent years poses additional demand on the community's facilities and resources, the annual inflow of legal immigrants represents less than 1% of our population which is within Hong Kong's ability to cope.

Telephone Tariffs

17. MR HENRY TANG asked (in Chinese): The data provided by the Government show that under the existing flat-rate pricing scheme for telephone services, light users have been cross-subsidizing heavy users in both residential and business telephone services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether outgoing long distance calls are incorporated in the relevant data on the monthly usage of residential and business lines; if so, what the usage pattern of outgoing long distance call service is (that is a breakdown of the percentages of customers according to long distance call time per month) in the residential and business sectors in the past year; if not, how the overall usage situation would be affected, and whether the amount of cross-subsidy on heavy users from light users would vary, if the data on out-going long distance calls are incorporated;

  2. of the proportion of long distance calls in the total outgoing calls made by heavy users (that is those with an average call time of over 400 minutes per month), as well as the respective proportions of outgoing long distance calls made by such users in the total long distance calls made locally in terms of call time and in terms of profits in the past year; and

  3. of the proportion of long distance calls in the total outgoing calls made by light users (that is those with an average call time of 0-400 minutes per month), as well as the respective proportions of outgoing long distance calls made by such users in the total long distance calls made locally in terms of call time and in terms of profits in the past year?

SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES (in Chinese): Mr President,

    (a)The data provided in the Economic Services Panel paper entitled "Review of the Pricing Structure of Local Telephone Services" cover successful local outgoing call minutes only. The data were collected from a sampling measurement exercise conducted in the third quarter of 1995 covering some 12 000 residential lines and 11 000 business lines which were randomly selected. Successful local conversation minutes were derived by applying a scale down factor on all measured outgoing call minutes. As the survey was conducted to collect data on local calls only, information on the usage pattern of outgoing long distance calls had not been collected. However, based on sampling checks, it is estimated that international calls accounted for 4% of the total residential traffic and 10% of the total business traffic.

    (b) and (c)

As explained in (a) above, the survey was conducted to collect data on local calls only. Data on usage pattern in respect of international calls had not been collected.

Respite Service for the Mentally Handicapped

18. DR JOHN TSE asked (in Chinese): Regarding the respite service provided for the mentally handicapped, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the number of residential places currently provided by the Social Welfare Department and the establishment of staff who are directly involved in providing such service;

  2. of the requirements for applying for such service;

  3. whether it has provided financial assistance to voluntary organizations for the provision of such service; if so, how many residential places provided by these organizations are funded by the Government; and

  4. whether it will consider enhancing such service in the near future?

SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AND WELFARE (in Chinese): Mr President, the objective of the respite service is to provide temporary residential accommodation for people with a disability, including mentally handicapped persons, for a period not exceeding two weeks in order to allow those who are responsible for caring for them at home to have a short break or respite.

  1. The Social Welfare Department is currently providing two residential places in its Cheung Hong Hostel for respite purposes. The service is provided by the existing staff of the Hostel and no additional posts have been established specifically for this purpose.

  2. The respite service is available to persons with a disability who are of 15 years of age or above; do not have infectious diseases; do not require intensive care; and do not have violent behaviour.

  3. At present, there is no financial assistance provided by the Government to non-governmental organizations for the provision of respite services, although some respite places are provided by such organizations using their own resources.

  4. Subject to the availability of resources, it is the intention of the Government eventually to subvent two residential places for respite services in hostels for the mentally handicapped in each of the five regions.

Industrial Support Fund Applications

19. MR JAMES TIEN asked (in Chinese): The Government has recently approved 49 applications, which have been recommended by the Industrial and Technology Development Council, for financial support under the Industrial Support Fund scheme. Of these, 30 applications came from tertiary institutions whereas only 17 applications came from industrial establishments and industrial support agencies. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the criteria adopted for assessing applications made by industrial support agencies;

  2. whether the same criteria are adopted for assessing applications made by tertiary institutions and industrial establishments; and

  3. whether the Government will step up the promotion of the scheme in order to encourage more industrial establishments applying for financial support under the scheme to undertake projects which will contribute to the territory's industrial and technological development, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of the territory's industry?

SECRETARY FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY (in Chinese): Mr President,

  1. The criteria adopted for assessing applications made to the Industrial Support Fund (the Fund) are summarized below:

    1. what specific benefits a proposed project will bring to the industrial and technological development in Hong Kong;

    2. whether there is a demonstrated need for a proposed project and whether there is any duplication with work already being undertaken;

    3. whether the applicant of a proposed project has the required technical and project management capability and whether the schedule of implementation and duration of the project are acceptable;

    4. whether the budget of a proposed project is reasonable and whether the project will become self-sufficient financially after a certain period of time; and

    5. whether it would be more appropriate to fund a proposed project by other sources such as the University Grants Committee or the Applied Research and Development Scheme.

  2. All applications submitted to the Fund, whether by tertiary institutions or by industrial establishments, are vetted by the Industry and Technology Development Council and its committees in accordance with the same set of criteria.

  3. The Industry Department already promotes, and will continue to promote, the Fund in the following ways:

    1. annual issue of invitation letters together with publicity materials on the Fund to all likely applicants, including trade and industrial organizations (ITOs);

    2. regular briefings on the Fund for all likely applicants, including ITOs;

    3. inclusion of information on the Fund in government publications such as the fact sheets on Hong Kong Manufacturing Industry and on Science and Technology, the Hong Kong Annual Report, the annual report on the Hong Kong Manufacturing Industry, the leaflet on "Support Service for Hong Kong" and Industry Department's Handbook; and

    4. inclusion of information on the Fund in the Industry Department Home Page on the Internet.

In addition, the findings and deliverables of various completed projects supported by the Fund will be exhibited at the Technology Week scheduled for 6-11 January 1997. This should help to promote the Fund. Scheduled for 6-11 January 1997. This should help to promote the Fund. Also, to encourage more ITOs to submit applications beneficial to the industrial and technological development in Hong Kong, the Industry Department will consider an earlier issue of invitation letters to allow interested bodies more time to prepare their submissions. The Department will undertake more briefings on the Fund to the ITOs.

BILLS

First Reading of Bills

VETERINARY SURGEONS REGISTRATION BILL

PUBLIC HEALTH AND MUNICIPAL SERVICES (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Bills read the First time and ordered to be set down for Second Reading pursuant to Standing Order 41(3).

Second Reading of Bills

VETERINARY SURGEONS REGISTRATION BILL

THE SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES to move the Second Reading of: "A Bill to provide for the regulation of the practice of veterinary surgery, the registration of veterinary surgeons, the disciplinary control of the professional activities of registered veterinary surgeons and for matters related to such registration and disciplinary control."

He said: Mr President, I move that the Veterinary Surgeons Registration Bill be read a Second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to regulate the practice of veterinary surgery in Hong Kong.

At present, the practice of veterinary surgery in Hong Kong is not subject to statutory regulation. However, a person who wishes to practise veterinary surgery in Hong Kong has to be a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons before he can obtain and use the antibiotics, poisons and other controlled drugs used in the profession. Despite these provisions, it is believed that there are some unqualified persons practising as veterinary surgeons in Hong Kong and that the treatment administered by such persons often causes undue suffering to animals.

The professional conduct of members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons practising in Hong Kong is subject to disciplinary control by the Royal College, but the College has practical difficulties in intervening effectively from the United Kingdom in professional disputes involving the practice of veterinary surgery in Hong Kong.

It is proposed to address these problems through the establishment of a locally-based statutory regime of registration, disciplinary control and professional standards for veterinary surgeons.

The Bill provides for the setting up of a Veterinary Surgeons Board, the main functions of which will be to establish and maintain a register of registered veterinary surgeons; to set up the qualification standards for registration as a veterinary surgeon; to receive, examine, accept or reject applications for registration; and to make rules for the professional conduct and discipline of registered veterinary surgeons and deal with disciplinary offences.

The Bill provides that the Board shall consist of 10 persons to be appointed by the Secretary for Economic Services. Of these, one person will be the Chairman, six persons will be veterinary surgeons and three will be medical practitioners or pharmacists or representatives of the interests of the persons who utilize veterinary services.

The Bill restricts the use of the description "registered veterinary surgeon" to those qualified to use it and provides for criminal offences relating to false representation and practising veterinary surgery without being registered, with a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for one year.

The proposals in the Bill will improve the quality of the veterinary services offered in Hong Kong and open the way for persons holding veterinary qualifications other than membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to practise as veterinary surgeons in Hong Kong, subject to their qualifications being accepted by the Veterinary Surgeons Board once it is established. I commend the Bill to this Council. Thank you.

Question on the motion on the Second Reading of the Bill proposed.

Debate on the motion adjourned and Bill referred to the House Committee pursuant to Standing Order 42(3A).

PUBLIC HEALTH AND MUNICIPAL SERVICES (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

THE SECRETARY FOR RECREATION AND CULTURE to move the Second Reading of: "A Bill to amend the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance."

He said (in Cantonese): Mr President, I move that the Public Health and Municipal Services (Amendment) Bill 1996 be read the Second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to facilitate early removal of articles obstructing scavenging or street sweeping operations. Section 22(2)(a)(i) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, as it stands at the moment, requires that a minimum period of notice to be given, that is not less that 24 hour, to the owner of an obstructing article, asking him to remove the article. After Section 22(2)(a)(i) is amended, the owner of an obstructing article will have 4 hours within which to remove the article. The legislative amendment will enable the law enforcement officers to expenditure the procedure for the removal of obstructing articles and should therefore facilitate further effective environmental improvement.

Question on the motion on the Second Reading of the Bill proposed.

Debate on the motion adjourned and Bill referred to the House Committee pursuant to Standing Order 42(3A).

Resumption of Second Reading Debate on Bills

GAS SAFETY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS BILL

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 31 January 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

INLAND REVENUE (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

INLAND REVENUE (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

BUSINESS REGISTRATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

ESTATE DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

STAMP DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

MOTOR VEHICLES (FIRST REGISTRATION TAX) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

AIR PASSENGER DEPARTURE TAX (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

BETTING DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, I am grateful for Members' support for the resumption of the Second Reading debate of the Bill, which seeks to increase betting duty by 0.5%. The rate for standard bets will be increased from 11.5% to 12% and that for exotic bets from 17.5% to 18%.

As Members may recall, on 24 April 1996, this Council passed the Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 1995 introduced by the Secretary for Home Affairs. The legislation was gazetted and came into force on 3 May 1996. It provides for, among other things, the charging of betting duty on overseas bets at one half of the rates for local bets. It, however, refers to the duty rates of 11.5% and 17.5%, and the application of one half of the two rates, that is, 5.75% and 8.75%, to overseas bets. It is therefore necessary for us to move a Committee Stage Amendment to the Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 1996 today so that one half of the new duty rates of 12% and 18% apply to overseas bets. I will move an amendment to this effect at the Committee stage.

Thank you, Mr President.

Question on the Second Reading of the Bill put and agreed to.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

DUTIABLE COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) BILL 1996

Resumption of debate on Second Reading which was moved on 1 May 1996

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, I am grateful for Members' support for the resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996.

The Bill seeks to increase tobacco and fuel duty by 9% to catch up with inflation, as proposed in the Budget. I understand that there is only one area in the Bill where the Administration and some Members have different views, that is, the proposed increase in light diesel oil duty, and the Honourable Miriam LAU will move a Committee stage amendment to abolish the increase. I strongly urge Members not to support the amendment. My reasons are as follows:

First, we have proposed various revenue concessions and increases in tax and duty in the Budget. These measures have to be taken as a package. Otherwise, the careful balance which we have strived to achieve in the Budget would be lost. Duty is an important source of revenue, constituting an estimated 5.5% of recurrent revenue in 1996-97. The proposed fuel duty increase is an integral part of the entire Budget package. Together with other proposed increases, it enables us to fund the various revenue concessions announced in the Budget. The increase in light diesel oil duty is an important element in the proposed fuel duty increase, contributing an estimated $170 million in additional revenue in 1996-97. The revenue concessions in the Budget, which were well received by this Council and the community, were proposed on the basis that all the tax and duty increases announced in the Budget, including the light diesel oil duty increase, would be passed.

Second, there have at various times been suggestions that we might end up with a surplus rather than a deficit in 1995-96 and that we would achieve a greater surplus in 1996-97 than what is estimated in the Budget. Therefore, we could afford to drop the proposed light diesel oil duty increase. I must point out that these are entirely speculations made without any valid grounds. While the accounts for 1995-96 have yet to be closed, latest indications are that we would end up with a deficit of not less than $2.5 billion as forecast in the Budget. As for 1996-97, the estimate of a surplus of $1.6 billion is the best we could make at the moment. Given total estimated Government expenditure of $194.1 billion and revenue of $195.7 billion, this is roughly a balanced Budget. It would be most unwise at this early stage, and would send entirely the wrong signal both locally and overseas, if we were to consciously put that modest surplus at risk.

Third, the proposed 9% increase is broadly in line with inflation. This is consistent with our policy to maintain the real value of the duty and a stable revenue source. The impact of the increase on inflation is minimal ─ well below 0.02 percentage point.

Fourth, I understand that some Members are concerned that the duty adjustment would increase the financial burden on the public. In fact, for the majority of commuters, they would not be affected at all as the bulk of the franchised bus services is exempt from fuel duty. As for taxis, PLBs and goods vehicles, fuel cost constitutes only a minor proportion of the overall operating cost and the proposed adjustment would increase the operating cost by no more than approximately 2.5%. The impact should not be significant.

Fifth, some Members have expressed concern about the increase in illicit activities on the use of diesel oil and are worried that the proposed increase would widen the price differential between light diesel oil for vehicular use and marked oil, thereby fuelling illicit activities in this area. As announced in the Budget, we have strengthened the resources of the Customs and Excise Department to tackle such activities. Two additional investigation and enforcement teams will be established this year. We have also increased the penalty to enhance the deterrent effect against such activities. We expect that the situation would be under control and the proposed increase should not fuel such activities or result in a diminishing return on revenue.

Finally, I would like to emphasize the point that the Budget, as announced, has gained the support of the community and that of this Council as shown in the debate early last month. It should be accepted as a package.

For the reasons I have set out, I hope Members would support in full our proposals to increase fuel duty.

Mr President, I commend this Bill in its entirety to this Council.

PRESIDENT: I am afraid I have to put the question now, as the speech made by the Secretary is the final reply. That means Mrs Miriam LAU can only speak subsequently when moving her amendment at the Committee stage.

Question on Second Reading of the Bill put.

Voice vote taken.

THE PRESIDENT said he thought the "Ayes" had it.

Mrs Miriam LAU claimed a division.

PRESIDENT: Council shall proceed to a division.

PRESIDENT: I would like to remind Members that they are now called upon to vote on the question of the Second Reading of the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996. Will Members please register their presence by pressing the top button in the voting units and then proceed to vote by pressing one of the three buttons below?

PRESIDENT: Before I declare the result, are there any queries? I think we are two short of the head count. Are there any queries? The result will now be displayed.

Mr Martin LEE, Mr SZETO Wah, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Albert CHAN, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr Michael HO, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Miss Emily LAU, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr Eric LI, Mr Fred LI, Dr Samuel WONG, Dr Philip WONG, Dr YEUNG Sum, Mr WONG Wai-yin, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr Andrew CHENG, Mr Paul CHENG, Mr CHENG Yiu-tong, Dr Anthony CHEUNG, Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung, Mr CHOY Kan-pui, Mr Albert HO, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr LAU Chin-shek, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok, Mr LAW Chi-kwong, Mr Bruce LIU, Mr MOK Ying-fan, Miss Margaret NG, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr TSANG Kin-shing, Dr John TSE and Mrs Elizabeth WONG voted for the motion.

Mr Allen LEE, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Edward HO, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr CHIM Pui-chung, Mr Henry TANG, Mr James TIEN and Mr YUM Sin-ling voted against the motion.

THE PRESIDENT announced that there were 38 votes in favour of the motion and nine votes against it. He therefore declared that the motion was carried.

Bill read the Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole Council pursuant to Standing Order 43(1).

Committee Stage of Bills

Council went into Committee.

GAS SAFETY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 to 7 were agreed to.

BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS BILL

Clauses 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 were agreed to.

Clause 5

SECRETARY FOR SECURITY: Mr Chairman, I move that clause 5 be amended as set out in the paper circularized to members.

The amendment put forward is technical in nature. It aligns clause (5)(1)(a) with most of the similar provisions in other legislation in relation to search warrants.

Mr Chairman, I beg to move.

Proposed amendment

Clause 5

That clause 5(1)(a) be amended, by deleting ", at any time within one month from the date of the warrant,".

Question on the amendment proposed, put and agreed to.

Question on clause 5, as amended, proposed, put and agreed to.

INLAND REVENUE (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 to 12 were agreed to.

INLAND REVENUE (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 to 2 were agreed to.

BUSINESS REGISTRATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1, 2 and 3 were agreed to.

ESTATE DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 to 17 were agreed to.

STAMP DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 and 2 were agreed to.

MOTOR VEHICLES (FIRST REGISTRATION TAX) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 to 8 were agreed to.

AIR PASSENGER DEPARTURE TAX (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clauses 1 and 2 were agreed to.

BETTING DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

Clause 1 was agreed to.

Clause 2

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr Chairman, I move that clause 2 be amended as set out in the paper circulated to Members. The amendment seeks to raise the betting duty rates by half a percentage point and apply one half of the new rates to the respective overseas bets.

Mr Chairman, I beg to move.

Proposed amendment

Clause 2

That clause 2 be amended, by deleting paragraphs (a) and (b) and substitute ─

    "(a) in paragraph (a) -

  1. by repealing "11.5%" and substituting "12%";

  2. by repealing "5.75% of the amount of every such bet" and substituting "one half of that rate";

(b) in paragraph (b) -

  1. by repealing "17.5%" and substituting "18%";

  2. by repealing "8.75% of the amount of every such bet" and substituting "one half of that rate"."

Question on the amendment proposed, put and agreed to.

Question on clause 2, as amended, proposed, put and agreed to.

DUTIABLE COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) BILL 1996

Clause 1 was agreed to.

Clause 2

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr President, I move that clause 2 of the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996 be amended by deleting sub-clause (2)(b).

Mr President, actually there is no cause for much criticism for the Government to increase its revenue through taxation. However, in light of the present economic downturn, it has to exercise special care when increasing taxes. It should be sympathetic to those industries which are operating at a loss and, what is more, should not increase their burden directly or indirectly through taxation. In response to the Government's proposal to increase the duty on petrol and other hydrocarbon oils by 9% in line with the inflation rate, I will move a motion to delete sub-clause (2)(b) of the Bill to maintain the duty rate of light diesel fuel at its present level, that is to say, $2.65 per litre. In spite of this, I would not object to the increase of duty on other fuels in line with the Government's proposed duty rate.

In the appendices to the Budget, the Financial Secretary pointed out that land transport contributed nearly 2.8% of Gross Domestic Product in 1994. Despite the fact that land transport has a great impact on our day-to-day lives and the local economy and the fact that the transport industry, whether it be the freight traffic, taxis or public light buses, is facing a shrinking business recently, the Government has not only failed to lend a helping hand, but also added fuel to the flames by victimizing the industry. Since most vehicles in the transport industry use diesel fuel, the increase of duty on diesel fuel will only increase the burden of the operators.

In fact, the oil companies make rising costs as an excuse every time they want to raise the oil prices. From last December to February this year, the price of diesel fuel has been raised four times in four months, including the increase of fuel duty in March by the Government. Although the subsequent competition among oil companies has led to an "abnormal" downward adjustment of the price of the diesel fuel by forty cents per litre, the price of the diesel fuel still remains high at $6.16 per litre. Moreover, the oil companies have constantly stressing that the cost of the diesel oil keeps on rising. Therefore, they will revert the oil prices to the "normal" rate by increasing the oil prices drastically any time they like. In time of economic downturn, it is already very difficult to operate businesses. While some lorry-drivers cut prices to compete for business, some taxi-drivers lower fares to scramble for passengers.

Let us take taxis and public light buses for illustration. Under the present proposal, if the duty on diesel fuel is to raise 9%, that is to increase from $2.65 to $2.89 per litre, a taxi-driver will have to pay $10 more for the fuel duty if he consumes 40 litres of fuel every day, and the extra payment will amount to $300 a month. As for a public light-bus driver who consumes 80 litres of fuel every day, this will mean $20 more each day and $600 more for a month. In time of economic downturn, it is undoubtedly a heavy burden for those commercial vehicles which are short of passengers.

In addition, according to the estimates of the duty on diesel fuel in 1994/95, diesel fuel vehicles in Hong Kong consume over 724 million litres of diesel fuel every year. If we use this figure as reference, the increase of duty on diesel fuel by 9% will bring an additional duty of over $173 million to the coffers. However, with the 17 000-odd taxis and 4 300-odd public light buses in Hong Kong consuming a total of more than 351 million litres of diesel oil, the taxis and public light buses alone would have already shouldered half of the duty on diesel fuel.

If the Government is not forgetful, it should remember that starting from 1992, the fuel duty levied on several bus companies has been exempted in order to release the pressure of the franchised bus companies for increasing fare. Serving the public in the same way as franchised buses, taxis and public light buses, however, receive no concession at all. The Government is undoubtedly favouring one and prejudicing against the other.

In the long run, commercial vehicles will apply for fare increases or raise their transportation fees as a result of the rise in costs and the duty levied on them will also finally transfer on to the public. In delivering the Budget speech, the Financial Secretary pointed out it is an appropriate measure to bring the duty on petrol and other hydrocarbon oil in line with the inflation rate. However, the so-called "appropriate practice" mentioned by the Financial Secretary may be a "routine increase" in line with the inflation rate, without considering all other factors. People in the industry pointed out to me that their incomes are virtually lagging behind inflation, and there is even a negative growth in their incomes. Therefore, in considering an increase of fuel duty, the Government should also take into account the local economic environment and the affordability of the operators in the industry. Only in so doing can the Government handle the matter in an appropriate manner.

Apart from this, raising the fuel duty on diesel oil may even encourage the illegal use of "marked oil" (diesel oil for industrial use). According to statistics, the Customs and Excise Department has successfully seized 1.2 million litres of contraband diesel fuel in the first eleventh months in 1995-96, that is 500 000 litres more than what was seized in the whole of 1994-95. A number of oil companies have also joined hands since 1 April in combating the illegal use and smuggling of "marked oil", illustrating that the illegal sale and use of "marked oil" is rampant. If the Government insisted on its decision and increased the fuel duty on diesel oil by 9%, this would only further aggravate the gap between the price of diesel oil and that of illegal "marked oil". To minimize the costs, some operators may run the risk of using illegal "marked oil". As a result, the income of the coffers in respect of diesel oil would drop instead of rising. I am definitely against any form of illegal action, but what is more, I do not want to see someone breaking the law in order to make ends meet.

It is imperative for the Government to step up its raids on illegal "marked oil". Apart from this, the Government should also consider how to narrow the gap between the price of diesel oil and that of illegal "marked oil" in order to reduce the attractiveness of using illegal "marked oil". Of course, the oil price is beyond the Government's control but the levy of tax and duty are in the Government's grip. If the Government can lower the fuel duty, the gap between these two kinds of oil can be narrowed.

Mr President, now that the Government is obviously indifferent to the hardships of the transport industry, Members should then take up the responsibility. I hope all my colleagues can sympathize with the plight of the operators in the industry and support the amendment moved by me later.

These are my remarks.

Proposed amendment

Clause 2

That clause 2 be amended, by deleting sub-clause (2)(b).

Question on the amendment proposed.

MR LEE CHEUK-YAN (in Cantonese): Mr Chairman, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) has always maintained a position of opposing any fee increases that hit the people's livelihood. Like other fee increases, the fuel duty increase under consideration this time will hit the people's livelihood severely. The Honourable Mrs Miriam LAU has just discussed the various impacts involved.

First, following this fuel duty increase, commercial vehicle drivers will definitely have to shoulder higher expenditure and operating costs. A feature of the commercial vehicle driving occupation in Hong Kong is a general absence of employer-employee relationship. Hence, there are no employers to pay fuel duty for drivers, who thus have to bear the expenses themselves. In other words, the livelihood of all vehicle owners and drivers will suffer as a result of the increase in fuel duty. This proposed increase is therefore a measure that would hit the people's livelihood. Seen from yet another perspective, this measure will still hit the people's livelihood because vehicle owners and drivers are unable to cope, they would shift the burden of taxation increase by raising transportation charges. This will affect the prices of consumer goods, and the burden will eventually be shifted to consumers, thereby boosting inflation.

Members may recall that a motion requesting the freezing of all fees and charges was carried in this Council on 24 January. No doubt, different political parties expressed different views at that debate, but, we can actually observe that the remarks of Members belonging to all political groups shared one thing in common: they all requested the freezing of all fee increases which would hit the peoples' livelihood. The fuel duty increase proposed is completely no different from fee increases in nature. Therefore, given the fact that we endorsed a motion on 24 January requesting the freezing of all charges that would hit people's livelihood, there is no reason for us to veto the amendment moved by Mrs Miriam LAU during this discussion on fuel duty today.

I therefore appeal to Members for their support of the amendment moved by Mrs Miriam LAU.

DR HUANG CHEN-YA (in Cantonese): Mr Chairman, the Honourable Mrs Miriam LAU's amendment seeks to delete the provision in respect of increasing the duty on light diesel fuel only rather than the duty on all kinds of fuels.

The result of such amendment is that other kinds of fuels will become more expensive whereas the price of diesel fuel, comparatively speaking, will drop. We are aware that the pollution caused to the environment and the harm done to the people's health by diesel fuel are already on the verge of danger. What we should do, therefore, is to encourage people to cut down on their use of diesel.

The relative drop in the diesel price will encourage people to use more rather than less diesel. While diesel users are saving money, other people have to pay for the price resulting from environmental pollution. Therefore, lowering the diesel duty will, eventually, add to the people's burden all the same. For this reason, we feel that we cannot support this amendment, no matter from the angle of environmental protection or of the people's livelihood.

In fact, everyone should know that most people go by public buses and the fuels consumed by buses are tax-free. Therefore, the tax rise will make no impact on most of the commuters.

Expenditure on diesel only forms part of the operating costs of the owners and drivers of taxis, public light buses and lorries. As a matter of fact, car rentals are more expensive than fuels and it has been the usual practice for petroleum companies to take concerted action. In my opinion, the taxi licence fees and the supply of taxis will have a greater impact on car rentals. Therefore, lowering the taxi licence fees, increasing the supply of taxis, enhancing the competition within the fuel market and breaking the monopoly will be even more beneficial to drivers' operation. The Democratic Party have always been concerned about such kind of issues which are of a more serious nature. I hope that Members, including Mrs Miriam LAU, will fight with us in the long term to improve these elements which affect the drivers and car owners to a greater extent.

Lastly, I was very surprised that the Liberal Party voted against the Bill in its second reading. In other words, they would also oppose to the levying of tobacco duty. Have they forgotten the negative impact tobacco has on people's health? I hope that Mrs Miriam LAU will answer this point. Just now, in delivering her speech, Mrs Miriam LAU went so far as to say that she would not object to the increase of duty on other kinds of fuels. In just a few minutes' time, she went back on her words. It is really surprising that she suffered from such a serious amnesia.

MISS CHAN YUEN-HAN (in Cantonese): Mr President, the Hong Kong Federation for Trade Unions (FTU) and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) have something to say regarding the Government's increase of duty on fuel oil. Although the increase this time involves diesel oil only, it will actually raise the operating costs of the people within the trade and we can foresee that the extra costs will inevitably be transferred on to the public.

Secondly, a number of operators and drivers and self-employed. As Mr LEE Cheuk-yan just said, in terms of labour relations, they are different from those people involved in other trades who will have somebody else to share their costs. Therefore, relatively speaking, these self-employed people are in fact wage-earners. Under today's economic situation, we would undoubtedly deal them a blow if we supported the Government's proposed increase.

Besides, I am also very concerned about environmental protection. I remember that a debate on diesel oil and petrol was conducted this year. Many people in this Council indicated clearly then that there was no scientific basis showing the difference between diesel oil and petrol in respect of their impact on the public. Therefore, I feel that we should not say who is right or who is wrong in a too subjective manner.

In view of these, both the FTU and the DAB support the amendment.

MRS SELINA CHOW: Mr Chairman, Dr HUANG just now questioned the wisdom behind the Liberal Party's move to oppose the Second Reading of the Bill and Mrs LAU's present move to agree to the Committee stage of the Bill in order to move an amendment. I shall leave it to Mrs LAU to explain her own action for herself. But I would like to put it clearly in response to Dr HUANG's question as to why the Liberal Party has in fact voted against the Second Reading of the Bill. In fact, our position has always been very clear. But since Dr HUANG questioned, I feel duty-bound to explain it to him.

The Liberal Party stands opposed to any move on the part of the Government that would have an inflationary effect on the retail market and would deal a blow to consumer's confidence generally at a time when consumer confidence is already very fragile.

Specifically, Dr HUANG referred to tobacco duty. Again, I would like to remind him that, in fact, in this Chamber we have thoroughly debated the question of how the economy of Hong Kong stands at the moment and what assistance we need. During that debate, our position on the situation of the tobacco trade has also gone into great detail, in the sense that it is very clear that the smuggling of tobacco or cigarettes is very blatant at the moment. The Government's estimate has already indicated that 300 million pieces of cigarettes would be seized by Customs and Excise in 1996. And the trade estimates that for every piece of cigarette seized, 17 would slip through the net. In other words, smugglers would enjoy a turnover of $2.5 billion. Any more increase in duty would not benefit the Treasury but rather the pockets of the criminal elements who are operating the syndicates. So, I would just remind Dr HUANG, in case it escapes his memory, of the Liberal Party's position.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY (in Cantonese): Mr President, in my earlier speech introducing the Second Reading debate on the Bill just now, I have already pointed out the effect of this proposed fuel duty increase on inflation, the transport industry and illegal activities and I will not bother to repeat the arguments. Nevertheless, some Members have just raised the question of charges and taxation which in my opinion is worth discussing in particular. Charges are what a user of a service has to pay; while taxation is for the purpose of enabling the Government to provide different kinds of services, including welfare, education and security and so on. I therefore do not think that these two aspects should be taken as one.

Throughout the Budget, one of the main objectives in considering the part on taxation is that we hope an overall balance of payment can be achieved. The careful balance which we have strived to achieve in the Budget would be destroyed if the concessions were accepted but the increases were rejected.

Honourable Members may remember that the fuel duty increase was implemented on 6 March this year by way of a Public Revenue Protection Order upon the announcement of the Budget. The measure can be said to have been generally accepted by the community. In my contact with the media or people of different fields, I have not received any responses which are obviously telling me that such a measure is unreasonable. I appeal to Members to support this Bill in full. It is part and parcel of the total Budget package.

MRS MIRIAM LAU (in Cantonese): Mr Chairman, first of all I would like to respond to the question raised by Dr the Honourable HUANG Chen-ya just now as to why I did not oppose other items of duty increase, and only opposed the increase in diesel duty and did not support the Bill at the Second Reading. It is exactly because when the Bill was read the Second time, it included the item of increase in diesel duty which I opposed most, and therefore I could not support the entire Bill. If the Committee stage amendments I have proposed are not successfully approved, in other words, if the Bill still includes the increase in diesel duty which I opposed most, I shall still oppose the entire Bill at the Third Reading, in spite of the fact that basically I do not oppose the increase in tobacco duty, nor do I oppose the increase in other fuel duties, so long as the Bill still includes the item I opposed most, I cannot help but oppose the entire Bill.

Mr Chairman, the sufferings of the transport sector have not been the concern of Members who are concerned about people's livelihood, especially Members from the Democratic Party (just now Dr HUANG Chen-ya has presented the views of the Democratic Party on its behalf). Is the Democratic Party really concerned about people's livelihood? Are these their true feelings or false pretences? I believe it still remains fresh in our memory, and it has just been mentioned by the Honourable LEE Cheuk-yan that the Honourable SIN Chung-kai moved a motion in January this year, requesting a freeze on the charges of all public utilities; the premise of the motion was that inflation was standing high and the unemployment rate had been continuously rising, and that the Government had a large surplus and reserve. Therefore, it requested a freeze on items related to people's livelihood. At that time, the Democratic Party firmly believed that this would lighten the heavy burden of daily living of the public. Today, the amendment I have moved is also closely related to the livelihood of members of the public, it is also aimed at lightening the burden of daily living of the public. We can see from three levels how the increase in diesel duty directly or indirectly affects people's livelihood.

The first level is the level of employees. When the Government increases diesel duty, the immediate victims are taxi drivers, minibus drivers or lorry drivers. As the rent of the vehicle is fixed, fuel costs are borne by the drivers. Therefore, any increase in diesel duty will only be borne by the drivers, which in turn affects the livelihood of the drivers. The second level is that of vehicle owners. In the transport sector, many operators are both drivers and vehicle owners. In order to meet the hire-purchase payments for their vehicles, apart from renting their vehicles to other people, the owners often have to drive their own vehicles to generate income to support their families. They are just ordinary citizens, not top businessmen. Well, if the two levels above do not come under people's livelihood as defined by the Democratic Party, I am sure that the Democratic Party will not object to the third level, that is the level of the general public. The general public may not take taxis everyday, but they often take minibuses and green minibuses. An increase in diesel duty will only exert more pressure on taxis and minibuses to increase their fares, and the burden of the increased costs will eventually be transferred to members of the public.

I would like to ask Members from the Democratic Party: If this does not involve people's livelihood, then what exactly is "people's livelihood"? I guess people's livelihood as demarcated by the Democratic Party may be limited to the difference between employees and employers, or between "having rice mixed with boiling water" and "having rice mixed with shark's fin soup", or even between "having money for meals" and "not having money for meals". When employees lose their jobs and cannot afford to have meals, the Democratic Party will plead on their behalf. However, when employers have been arduously running their businesses and still have to "have rice mixed with boiling water", will the Democratic Party not care about whether they live or die? Before long, Mr SIN Chung-kai has, on behalf of the Democratic Party, called upon other Members to brush aside prejudice and support his motion by voting unanimously in favour of his motion. Today, I call upon Members similarly and hope that the Democratic Party can brush aside prejudice, especially their views on people's livelihood, and support my motion by voting unanimously in favour of it.

Finally, I would like to respond to a point, that is Dr HUANG Chen-ya has mentioned that air pollution is caused by diesel, and therefore we should not stop the 9% increase in diesel duty and we should approve such an increase instead. However, Mr HUANG Chen-ya may have completely missed what I said in my previous speech, the motion I have moved requests that diesel duty should not be increased by 9%, and this is exactly a move to protect the environment. This is because the illegal use of "marked oil" is very rampant now, and "marked oil" is very environmentally unfriendly. Therefore, we should make efforts to curb the sale of illegal "marked oil". One way is to narrow the price difference between "marked oil" and diesel so as to reduce the attractiveness of illegal "marked oil", and discourage people from violating the law. Therefore, this also touches upon a sense of environmental protection. However, Dr HUANG Chen-ya seems to have only thought of the fact that diesel will pollute the environment, and that heavy penalty should be given. I am not sure whether that is what he thinks, but he seems to have connected diesel with environmental pollution, and so, he supports an increase of 9%. This seems to imply that diesel vehicles have to be brought down, and that diesel vehicles have to be replaced by some other means.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Question on the amendment put.

Voice vote taken.

THE CHAIRMAN said he thought the "Noes" had it.

Mrs Miriam LAU claimed a division.

CHAIRMAN: Committee will proceed to a division.

CHAIRMAN: I would like to remind Members that they are now called upon to vote on the question that the amendment to clause 2 moved by Mrs Miriam LAU be approved. Will Members please first register their presence by pressing the top button and then proceed to vote by pressing one of the three buttons below?

CHAIRMAN: Before I declare the result, Members may wish to check their votes. Are there any queries? The result will now be displayed.

Mr Allen LEE, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Edward HO, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr CHIM Pui-chung, Mr Henry TANG, Mr James TIEN, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr CHENG Yiu-tong, Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung, Mr CHOY Kan-pui, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr LAU Chin-shek, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen and Mr YUM Sin-ling voted for the amendment.

Mr Martin LEE, Mr SZETO Wah, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Albert CHAN, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr Michael HO, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Miss Emily LAU, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr Eric LI, Mr Fred LI, Dr Samuel WONG, Dr Philip WONG, Dr YEUNG Sum, Mr WONG Wai-yin, Miss Christine LOH, Mr Andrew CHENG, Mr Paul CHENG, Dr Anthony CHEUNG, Mr Albert HO, Mr LAW Chi-kwong, Miss Margaret NG, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr TSANG Kin-shing, Dr John TSE and Mrs Elizabeth WONG voted against the amendment.

Dr LAW Cheung-kwok, Mr Bruce LIU and Mr MOK Ying-fan abstained.

THE CHAIRMAN announced that there were 20 votes in favour of the amendment and 26 votes against it. He therefore declared that the amendment was negatived.

CHAIRMAN: As the amendment to clause 2 moved by Mrs LAU has been negatived, I now but the question to yu and that is: That clause 2 stand part of the Bill.

Question on clause 2 proposed, put and agreed to.

Council then resumed.

Third Reading of Bills

THE SECRETARY FOR ECONOMIC SERVICES reported that the

GAS SAFETY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

had passed through Committee without amendment. He moved the Third Reading of the Bill.

Question on the Third Reading of the Bill proposed, put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

THE SECRETARY FOR SECURITY reported that the

BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS BILL

had passed through Committee with amendment. He moved the Third Reading of the Bill.

Question on the Third Reading of the Bill proposed, put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

PRESIDENT: For the nine budget/revenue-related Bills, may I suggest the Secretary for the Treasury move three motions. The first would cover the first seven, which passed through Committee without amendment. The second on the Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 1996 which passed through Committee with amendment. And the last, the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996, which although passed through Committee without amendment, however since there was some controversy, I think it is safer to take it on a separate motion.

THE SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY reported that the

INLAND REVENUE (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

INLAND REVENUE (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) BILL 1996

BUSINESS REGISTRATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

ESTATE DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

STAMP DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

MOTOR VEHICLES (FIRST REGISTRATION TAX) (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996 and

AIR PASSENGER DEPARTURE TAX (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

had passed through Committee without amendment. He moved the Third Reading of the Bills.

Question on the Third Reading of the Bills proposed, put and agreed to.

Bills read the Third time and passed.

THE SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY reported that the

BETTING DUTY (AMENDMENT) BILL 1996

had passed through Committee with amendment. He moved the Third Reading of the Bill.

Question on the Third Reading of the Bill proposed, put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

THE SECRETARY FOR THE TREASURY reported that the

DUTIABLE COMMODITIES (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) BILL 1996

had passed through Committee without amendment. He moved the Third Reading of the Bill.

Question on the Third Reading of the Bill proposed, put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

ADJOURNMENT AND NEXT SITTING

PRESIDENT: In accordance with Standing Orders, I now adjourn the Council until 2.30 pm on Wednesday, 22 May 1996.

Adjourned accordingly at ten minutes to Five o'clock.


Note: The short titles of the Bills/motions listed in the Hansard, with the exception of the Veterinary Surgeons Registration Bill, Public Health and Municipal Services (Amendment) Bill 1996, Biological Weapons Bill, Inland Revenue (Amendment) Bill 1996, Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996, Business Registration (Amendment) Bill 1996, Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 1996, Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) (Amendment) Bill 1996, Air Passenger Departure Tax (Amendment) Bill 1996 and Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 1996, have been translated into Chinese for information and guidance only; they do not have authoritative effect in Chinese.