LegCo Paper No. FC 38/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the administration)
Ref : CB1/F/1/2

Legislative Council Finance Committee

Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting held on Friday, 29 November 1996 at 2:30 pm in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members present :
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Chairman)
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Members absent :
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public officers attending :
    Mr K C KWONG, JP
    Secretary for the Treasury
    Mr Kevin HO, JP
    Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
    Mrs Lilian WONG
    Principal Executive Officer (General), Finance Branch
    Mrs Sarah KWOK
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
    Mr HSU King-ping, CPM, JP
    Chief Fire Officer of Fire Services Department
    Mr CHAN Ming-yau
    Senior Maintenance Manager of Government Dockyard
    Miss Annette LEE
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)
    Mr Alfred WONG
    Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency
    Mr Matthew CHEUNG, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower
    Mr Herman CHO
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (7)
    Secretary-General of the University Grants Committee
Clerk in attendance :
    Miss Pauline NG
    Assistant Secretary General 1
Staff in attendance :
    Mr Jimmy MA
    Legal Adviser
    Mrs Constance LI
    Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
    Mr Andy LAU
    Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)

Item No. 1 - FCR(96-97)71


The proposal was approved by the Committee.

Item No. 2 - FCR(96-97)75


• Subhead 603 Plant, vehicles and equipment

2. Members were generally in support of the proposal. In response to members’ questions on the high maintenance costs of the 43-year old fireboat Alexander Grantham, the Senior Maintenance Manager of Government Dockyard (SMM/GD) clarified that the maintenance costs of this fireboat prior to 1990 were within acceptable limits. However, with the aging of the vessel, major repairs and engine replacement had to be carried out in recent years, resulting in an upsurge of maintenance costs to about $3 million to $4 million each year since 1993. In view of the high maintenance costs, the Government considered it more cost-effective to acquire a replacement fireboat.

3. Noting that the vessel had a downtime of 100 days in 1995, a member asked whether there was any contingency plan in case the vessel was required for service during the maintenance period. In reply, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of the Fire Services Department advised that another major fireboat and some medium fireboats could be deployed for service. If necessary, the Government could also engage the service of certain private vessels to offer assistance.

4. With regard to the timetable for the completion of the replacement fireboat, SMM/GD advised that due to other urgent commitments, the Government Dockyard could only start work on the design and tender preparation for this fireboat in March 1997. Procurement would be by way of open tender, aiming at delivery in July 1999. In this connection, a member commented that with the technological advancement, fireboats of designs to meet different needs were now available on open market. He asked whether the Government had considered procuring directly from open market, or making reference to some overseas designs so as to save time in the design and procurement process. In response, CFO advised that while reference had been made to some overseas designs, the replacement fireboat had to be tailor-made to suit Hong Kong’s unique requirements. In reply to a further question, SMM/GD confirmed that the vessel would have one year warranty upon delivery.

5. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 3 - FCR(96-97)73


• Subhead 275 Student travel scheme

6. On the reasons for the increased expenditure, the Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency advised that no allowance had been made in the approved estimates for 1996-97 for the public transport fare increases which had gone up by roughly 10.8%. In addition, there had also been an increase of 5.8% in the number of successful applicants. A supplementary provision of $46.8 million was therefore required to meet the anticipated shortfall in 1996-97.

7. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 4 - FCR(96-97)74


• Subhead 318 Hong Kong Institute of Education


• Subhead 492 Grants to UGC-funded institutions

• Subhead 496 Refund of rates - UGC-funded institutions

• Subhead 761 Grants towards academic exchanges (block vote)

8. Members noted that the proposal was basically an accounting arrangement pursuant to the transfer of vote controlling responsibility for the funding for the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) from the Secretary for Education and Manpower to the Secretary-General, University Grants Committee (UGC), and that no additional financial commitment was involved.

9. As regards the level of grants for the HKIEd in the next triennium, the Secretary-General, UGC advised that the UGC would assess the Institute’s recurrent funding requirements on the same basis as equivalent academic programme categories and cost centres in other UGC-funded institutions. He further advised that HKIEd would require a period of transition before it could be funded entirely on the same basis as other UGC-funded institutions. Some ramping would still need to be built into the Institute’s funding for the next triennium, but precisely how much and for how long would need to be considered by the UGC, in consultation with the HKIEd, in the context of the Committee’s assessment of the triennial recurrent grants in 1997.

10. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 5 - FCR(96-97)72


11. Members noted that the proposed revisions to the Finance Committee (FC) Procedures were mainly to reflect changes that had taken place since 1994 in the way the Legislative Council and its Committees conducted their business. Members were in agreement with the revised FC Procedures as set out in the Enclosure.

12. Some members sought clarification on paragraph 5 of the discussion paper regarding the application of Standing Order (SO) 30 on the adjournment of proceedings of FC. In response, the Chairman briefed members on the background and the rationale behind the consensus reached among the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of FC and its two Subcommittees that SO 30(4) would apply when a member moved without notice at a meeting that discussion should be adjourned. He said that it was considered reasonable to put a proposal to vote after the proposal had been fully deliberated. If members were not prepared to support a proposal, members could vote against it. Adjourning the consideration of a proposal after deliberation without voting on it and moving to the next item of business would be unfair to members and the Administration. The Chairmen therefore reached a consensus that if discussion were to be adjourned, it would be adjournment of the entire proceedings under SO 30(4).

13. The Chairman stressed that notwithstanding the consensus already reached, he welcomed members’ views in this respect. The revised FC Procedures, as given in the Enclosure of the paper, were written in such a way that SO 27 to 32 shall apply unless the Chairman orders otherwise. The Procedures therefore did not disable the Chairman from exercising his discretion to apply SO 30(1) if he so wished. Any changes in the Chairmen’s consensus in paragraph 5 would not affect the revised Procedures being proposed.

14. At the invitation of the Chairman, the Legal Adviser advised that in accordance with SO 60(11), FC would determine its own practice and procedure subject to the SO. By virtue of SO 32A, Part H of the SO on the Rules of Debate, i.e. SO 27 to 32, could be adapted for application in FC proceedings unless the Chairman ordered otherwise. He echoed the Chairman’s point that this principle had been spelt out in the FC Procedures. It was therefore entirely the Chairman’s discretion to apply any of the provisions under SO 30 to adjourn FC proceedings. He added that the arrangement for the adjournment of proceedings under SO 30(4) was specifically written in the FC Procedures because this particular SO required more substantial adaptation before it could be applied for use in FC proceedings.

15. The Chairman invited the Secretary for the Treasury’s comments on the adjournment procedure for FC. The Secretary for the Treasury said that whilst the determination of committee procedures was a matter for members, the Administration would go along with the rationale given in paragraph 5 of the paper for the application of SO 30(4) which was in fact the long-standing practice of FC and its Subcommittees. He recalled that only on one or two occasions had FC proceedings been adjourned in the past. The Administration would withdraw an item, if warranted, on its own accord to allow for the provision of further information to members. There would however be circumstances, such as when the Administration had provided all available information to FC, where it would only be reasonable for the proposal to be put to vote after full deliberation by members. In these circumstances, it would not be in the public interest to adjourn discussion of the proposal without a decision.

16. While agreeing that motions to adjourn discussion should only be moved in very justifiable circumstances, some members considered that there might be occasions where it would be more appropriate to adjourn discussion of a proposal rather than the entire proceedings so as not to affect the discussion of other proposals on the agenda. They were of the view that the Chairman should continue to have the discretion to apply SO 30(1) where necessary. They anticipated that the need for moving such a motion would be extremely rare and the Chairman should exercise his judgment as to whether this SO should apply in the light of the circumstances.

17. In view of members’ comments, the Chairman advised that he would use his discretion to apply SO 30 in FC proceedings, including SO 30(1). As changes to the arrangement given in paragraph 5 of the paper did not affect the FC Procedures, he asked members to vote on the revised FC Procedures.

18. The revised FC Procedures were approved.
19. The Committee was adjourned at 3:35 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
13 December 1996

Last Updated on {{PUBLISH AUTO[[DATE("d mmm, yyyy")]]}}