LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 744/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/7/96/2

Bills Committee on Railways Bill

Minutes of the Meeting
on Thursday, 9 January 1997, at 2:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Chairman)
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members absent :

    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP

Public officers attending :

Transport Branch

Deputy Secretary for Transport (Transport Infrastructure)
Mrs Jenny Wallis
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (Transport Infrastructure)4
Mr LI Wing
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (Transport Infrastructure)7
Ms Linda SO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (Transport Infrastructure)7 (Designate)

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch
Mr Trevor Keen
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Lands)

Legal Department
Mr Anthony Watson-Brown
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman

Clerk in attendance:

    Mrs Vivian KAM

Staff in attendance :

Mr Matthew LOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4 (Acting)

I Election of Chairman

Hon CHAN Kam-lam was elected Chairman of the Bills Committee.

II Meeting with the Administration

2. Hon Edward S T HO declared interest as a Board Member of the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC).

3. At the Chairman’s invitation, the Deputy Secretary for Transport (Transport Infrastructure) (DS for T) briefed members on the Bill. The Bill was modelled on the Roads Ordinance, and aimed at providing a legal framework with general provisions for the preparation and publication of plans, objections, payment of compensation to persons whose interests were affected, reclamation, resumption of land or strata, and creation of temporary and permanent easements and wayleaves for the implementation of new railway projects. Provisions in existing legislation were inadequate for such purposes, and the Bill had therefore been proposed. He emphasized that the Bill was an enabling legislation and would not empower any specific corporations in launching railway schemes; neither would it imply any commitment for implementing individual projects.

4. Members were concerned about the impact of the Bill on the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and MTRC. In response, DS for T advised that the proposed legislation would be essential to enable the former to implement new railway projects such as the Western Corridor Railway (WCR). For MTRC, the Mass Transit Railway (Land Resumption and Related Provisions) Ordinance would be repealed following enactment of the Bill. However, in order not to delay progress of the Quarry Bay Congestion Relief Works which were urgently needed to relieve congestion and improve safety at the Quarry Bay Station, MTRC would proceed with the project under the existing Ordinance. While the Railways Bill contained provisions which ensured the safety and protection of the operation of railways, these provisions would only be applicable to railways constructed under the Railways Bill. In order to ensure that railways which were constructed under the Mass Transit Railway (Land, Resumption and Related Provisions) Ordinance were also covered once that Ordinance was repealed, the Railways Bill had provided for the saving of any such relevant provisions. Members were appreciative of the tight schedule for enacting the Bill but emphasized the need to examine the Bill carefully and fairly having regard to its extensive effect on railway projects in the long term.

5. Members enquired about the discrepancy in schedule of the legal requirements proposed by consultants of KCRC on WCR with those of the Administration. In reply, DS for T and the Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (Transport Infrastructure)4 advised that the Administration had considered options proposed by the KCRC’s consultants including the introduction of a new legal framework for WCR. The scheme proposed in the Bill was similar to that proposed by the KCRC’s consultants. The target completion date of 2001 however had been postponed due to foreseeable complications with land resumption. The Direction by the Governor in Council effective in February 1996 had empowered KCRC to undertake planning activities for WCR, and the legal empowerment for the necessary investigative works and land resumption and related matters would be covered by the Bill. To address members’ concerns, the Administration undertook to provide a table comparing the purpose and time schedule of the legal requirement proposed by consultants of KCRC on WCR with those of the Administration. As regards the Tseung Kwan O Extension project the scheduled completion date of which had been revised to 2002, DS for T advised that the impact of the Bill had been taken into account in arriving at this target.


6. Some members were concerned with affected parties not being informed directly of the proposed land resumption, and that existing arrangements such as notices in the Government Gazette might be insufficient. They enquired if advertisements in local newspapers and notices to District Boards and Rural Committees and other avenues were possible. They also made reference to the notice of resumption by order under the Land Drainage Ordinance where affected parties were informed individually. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Lands) (PAS for PEL) acknowledged members’ concerns and advised that these would be administrative arrangements rather than issues covered in the Bill. He assured members that their views would be taken into consideration and that the Administration would improve the notification mechanism as an ongoing process.

7. Some members advocated open hearings for objection cases as had been proposed in the Town Planning White Bill; they also suggested that public consultation should be conducted prior to the publication of schemes. A member expressed worries that the Governor in Council might be inclined to side with the Administration and not deal with objections fairly, and enquired if the Governor in Council would be the appropriate party to consider objections. In response, DS for T and PAS for PEL advised that it was normal practice for the Governor in Council to deal with objections from the public to schemes. As opposed to the Town Planning Board which focused on only planning aspect, the Executive Council dealt with a wide spectrum of public issues. PAS for PEL supplemented that all objections were dealt with seriously. The Administration would first deal with objections by meeting with the objectors to clarify their concerns. If the objections could not be resolved, their written representations would be tabled at the meeting of the Executive Council, and the Governor in Council would have regard to the views of all parties to arrive at an informed judgement. The objectors’ right for hearing provided for under the Town Planning White Bill was a different mechanism and was considered inappropriate for the case in question. Hearings on railway projects were also inadvisable in view of the complexity of railway schemes and the time involved. The existing mechanism under the Roads Ordinance had been working well since its enactment in the 1970s, and provisions in the Bill were considered to be an adequate base for establishing the legal framework for railway schemes. DS for T also emphasized that implementation of new railway schemes would be in the public interest. To facilitate comparison with arrangements under the Roads Ordinance and the Town Planning White Bill, DS for T undertook to provide a flow-chart on the steps and time required, both statutory and estimated, for completing a land resumption project in accordance with the scheme proposed in the Bill.


8. Some members noted that negotiations with objectors under the existing mechanism was a time consuming process and some projects had been delayed for more than two years owing to non-resolution of objections. They considered that a statutory period defining the time required for the Administration to deal with objections might be useful. A member was however concerned that this might result in over-delegation of power to the Administration if the existing mechanism was not refined simultaneously. DS for T advised that the Bill had proposed a period of 60 days after the first publication of the notice for objections to be made. PAS for PEL supplemented that neither the Roads Ordinance nor the Bill stipulated a time limit for negotiations and this was illustrative of the Administration’s sincerity in striking a right balance in implementing schemes on time with the private interests of the objectors. At members’ request, he undertook to provide the Committee with examples of the time spent in processing objections to land resumption for such projects as construction of Route 5 on the basis of existing provisions in the Roads Ordinance. He also referred members to Part II 2(a) and 4 of the Schedule in the Bill as regards compensation due to the creation of easements and road closures.


III Any other business

9. Members agreed to invite comments from the public on the Bill by putting advertisements in local newspapers. Views from concerned parties including the MTRC, KCRC and other professional bodies would also be sought individually.

(Post-meeting note: Advertisements were placed in the Ming Pao Daily and the South China Morning Post on 11 January 1997. Letters to the Chairmen of MTRC, KCRC, Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, and Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors were issued on 10 January 1997.)

10. Members agreed that the Committee would next meet on 21 January 1997 at 8:30 a.m. and 24 January 1997 at 4:30 p.m.

11. The meeting ended at 3:40 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
23 January 1997

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