LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2154/96-97
Ref : CB2/H/5
Legislative Council House Committee
Minutes of 24th meeting held on Friday, 2 May 1997 at 2:30 pm in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)Members absent :
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
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 Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon Margaret NG
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon LAU Chin-shek
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Assistant Secretary General 2
Staff in attendance :
- Mr Ricky C C FUNG
- Secretary General
- Mr Jimmy MA
- Legal Adviser
- Mr LAW Kam-sang
- Deputy Secretary General
- Mr LEE Yu-sang
- Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
- Mrs Vivian KAM
- Assistant Secretary General 1 (Acting)
- Mr LAW Wing-lok
- Assistant Secretary General 3 (Acting)
- Mr Jonathan DAW
- Consultant (Legal Service)
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Ms Kitty CHENG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Ms Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Mrs Percy MA
- Chief Assistant Secretary (House Committee)
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (House Committee)
I.Confirmation of minutes of meeting held on 25 April 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2047/96-97)
1.The minutes were confirmed.
(a)Report on Chairmans meeting with the Chief Secretary
Attendance at case conference
2.The Chairman said that he had reflected to the Chief Secretary Mr Zachary WONGs complaint regarding the Legal Aid Departments refusal to send representatives to a particular case conference. The Chief Secretary had undertaken to look into the matter.
(b)Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996
||3.Miss Margaret NG said that the Director of Administration had earlier advised that the Administration was considering proposing Committee stage amendments that would be acceptable to both Members and the Administration. The Chairman said that he would further pursue the matter with the Chief Secretary.|
III.Legal Service Division report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 30 April 1997 (gazetted on 25 and 26 April 1997)
(LegCo Paper No. LS 188/96-97)
4.The Legal Adviser said that seven out of the 11 items of subsidiary legislation were related to commencement notices.
5.Members raised no query on the subsidiary legislation.
IV.Further reports by the Legal Service Division on outstanding bills
(a)Weapons of Mass Destruction (Control of Provision of Services) Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 192/96-97)
6.The Legal Adviser said that subsequent to the report made to members at the last meeting, the Legal Service Division had an informal meeting with the Administration on 28 April 1997 which was also attended by Mr James TO. Although the Division had received a reply from the Administration regarding the issue of defence and foreign affairs raised by Mr TO, the meeting had identified other policy matters as set out in paragraph 3 of the paper. He recommended that members form a Bills Committee to study the Bill.
7.Miss Margaret NG suggested and members agreed to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join: Mr James TO Kun-sun (as advised by Dr YEUNG Sum), Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee and Miss Margaret NG.
(b)Human Reproductive Technology Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 200/96-97)
8.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill was a complex one which raised important social, ethical and legal issues.
9.In response to Miss Emily LAU, the Chairman said that this Bill was not on the list of bills which had to be passed before 1 July 1997. According to the priority list of Government bills, a Bills Committee for the study of this Bill, if formed, would rank 19. Miss LAU expressed concern as to whether the scrutiny of this Bill could be concluded in time for resumption of Second Reading debate to be held before end of the current session. After discussion, members agreed that a Bills Committee should be formed and put on the waiting list. The following members agreed to join: Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr Michael HO Mun-ka, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr LEE Kai-ming and Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee.
V.Legal Service Division report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order 42(3A)
(a)Trustee (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 195/96-97)
10.The Chairman said that this was one of the bills which had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
11.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to make technical amendments to the principal Ordinance, some of which were currently provided by the English statutes applicable to Hong Kong under the Application of English Law Ordinance. The Administration considered that public consultation for the Bill was not necessary.
|Miss Margaret NG
||12.Miss Margaret NG said that she needed more time to consult the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association. Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill.|
(b)Child Abduction and Custody Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 186/96-97)
13.The Chairman informed members that this was one of the bills which had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
||14.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to provide for the implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in Hong Kong. The Legal Service Division was still scrutinizing the technical aspects of the Bill and would provide a further report.|
(c)The Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 193/96-97)
15.In response to the Chairman, Dr Anthony CHEUNG, Chairman of the Panel on Education, said that the Panel was briefed on the Bill on 25 April 1997. Members of the Panel generally supported the Bill and considered that a Bills Committee was not necessary. In response to the Panels proposal of including LegCo Members on the Council of the Institute, as was the case of the University of Hong Kong or the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Administration had just replied that it was necessary to examine the issue in the wider context of the other four University Grants Committee-funded universities currently not adopting this practice. The Administration suggested that the proposal, which involved a fundamental change to the composition of the universities governing bodies, should be dealt with as a separate exercise. Dr CHEUNG said that he personally found the Administrations reply acceptable.
||16.Members agreed to support the Bill in principle, pending a further report from the Legal Service Division on certain drafting points.|
(d)Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 190/96-97)
17.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill was a straightforward one, and its legal and drafting aspects were in order.
18.Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(e)New Territories Land Exchange Entitlements (Redemption) (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 189/96-97)
19.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to revise the rates of redemption money payable in respect of land exchange entitlements. At the Finance Committee meeting on 25 April 1997, members approved the commitment of $2 400 million for the payment of redemption money which reflected the new rates proposed in the Bill. The Bill was legally in order.
20.Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(f)Inland Revenue (Amendment) Bill 1997
Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 1997
Estate Duty (Amendment) Bill 1997
Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 1997
Traffic Accident Victims (Assistance Fund) (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 197/96-97)
21.The Chairman advised that the above Bills sought to give effect to the revenue proposals made in the 1997-98 Budget. The Bills must be passed before 1 July 1997.
|Mr Eric LI ALA1
||22.The Legal Adviser said that the Legal Service Division needed more time to study the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997 and would provide a further report. Mr Eric LI said that the Hong Kong Society of Accountants had expressed concern about the Bill and requested more time to consider it. Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill. The Legal Adviser added that the legal and drafting aspects of the other five Bills were in order.|
23.Referring to the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 1997, Mrs Miriam LAU commented that there had been significant increases in the price of diesel oil in the past 12 months. Mr Michael HO said that he and some members were concerned about the decrease in the duty on alcohol. Mrs LAU suggested and members agreed to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join: Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, Dr HUANG Chen-ya (as advised by Mr Michael HO), Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen and Mr SIN Chung-kai.
24.Members agreed that the Second Reading debates on the remaining four Bills be resumed.
(g)Merchant Shipping (Liability and Compensation for Oil Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 194/96-97)
25.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill did not introduce new policy issues.
26.Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(h)Marriage and Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 187/96-97)
27.The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to introduce improvements on the recovery of maintenance, disposal of property and custody of children in various Ordinances. He added that one of the proposals was to empower the court to order attachment of income to facilitate the recovery of arrears of maintenance. The Labour Advisory Board had been consulted and the majority of its members accepted the proposal. The Legal Service Division needed more time to scrutinize the Bill and would provide a further report in due course.
28.Mr Albert HO, Chairman of the Panel on Home Affairs, said that the Panel had discussed the subject of recovery of alimony and supported the introduction of legislation to address the communitys concern about the deficiencies of existing matrimonial proceedings. The policy aspect of the Bill was very clear and worthy of support. In order to facilitate passage of the Bill before 1 July 1997 for the benefit of the public, he suggested that individual members who had queries on the technical aspects of the Bill should approach the Legal Service Division for assistance. The arrangement would obviate the need for a Bills Committee.
29.Miss Margaret NG expressed concern as to whether the court would take into account all relevant factors before it issued an order to attach the income of a maintenance payer who had defaulted in payment. Mr Albert HO suggested that the Administration should be requested to advise on the avenues for appeal should such a person be aggrieved by the decision of the court. Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that in order to facilitate members consideration of the Bill, the Administration should be requested to provide information on the minority views received during public consultation.
||30.Members agreed to defer a decision, pending the Legal Service Divisions report on the concerns raised by members and on the technical aspects of the Bill.|
(i) Hong Kong Bill of Rights (Amendment) Bill 1997 - Members Bill introduced by Mr LAU Chin-shek
(LegCo Paper No. LS 199/96-97)
31.The Legal Adviser briefly explained the purpose of the Bill. He said that the proposed amendment was identical to clause 103 of the Equal Opportunities (Family Responsibility, Sexuality and Age) Bill and clause 55 of the Equal Opportunities (Race) Bill. As the President had ruled that the subject matter of the clauses in question was not properly related to the subject matter of the two Bills, Mr LAU Chin-shek had decided to introduce the subject matter in a separate Members Bill. As regards the clauses in the two Bills, the President would take appropriate action at the Committee stage, subject to the Bills receiving Second Reading in Council.
32.Citing the reference to the decision of the Court of Appeal on a particular case in the LegCo Brief, Miss Margaret NG expressed concern as to how the scrutiny of the Bill should proceed . Mr Albert HO said that LegCo was not in a position to judge whether a courts decision was right or wrong, as interpretation of laws was a matter for courts. The Legal Adviser said that the Member in charge opined that the courts decision had ignored the legislative intent of the Ordinance, and proposed to amend the Ordinance by adding to it a subsection declaring the intention of the legislature on the application of the Ordinance. While it was not for LegCo to involve itself in judicial decisions, it was in order as part of the legislative process for Members to examine the merits of this Bill. In view of the legal and policy implications of the Bill, he recommended that a Bills Committee be set up. Members agreed.
33.The following members agreed to join the Bills Committee: Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee, Miss Margaret NG and Mr NGAN Kam-chuen.
VI.Further business for the LegCo sitting on 7 May 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 924/96-97)
34.The Chairman said that Mr Lawrence YUM had withdrawn his question, and the slot had been allocated to Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung.
VII.Business for the LegCo sitting on 14 May 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 925/96-97)
35.The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
36.No statement had yet been notified.
(i)Resolution under section 100A of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) - to be moved by the Secretary for Trade and Industry
(LegCo Paper No. LS 191/96-97)
37.The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the resolution was to increase the amount of 61 items of statutory fines specified in various Ordinances and Regulations. The drafting of the resolution was in order.
38.In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, the Legal Adviser said that according to the Administration, the proposed increases were meant to cover only inflation since the last adjustment, and had nothing to do with the deterrent effect of the penalties.
||39.The Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the resolution was 7 May 1997. Mr ARCULLI expressed concern about the limited time available for scrutinizing the resolution. Members agreed that the Administration should be requested to defer moving the resolution to a later sitting. The Chairman agreed to raise the matter with the Chief Secretary.|
(ii) Resolution under section 9A of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Cap. 221) - to be moved by the Chief Secretary
(LegCo Paper No. LS 198/96-97)
40.The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the resolution was to increase by 18.18% the fees payable to lawyers in private practice who were engaged by the Director of Legal Aid in criminal cases. The legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order.
41.Members raised no query on the resolution.
(iii)Two resolutions under sections 18(1), 19(1)(b) and 36(1)(1) of the Rating Ordinance (Cap. 116) and section 5(4) of the Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) Ordinance (Cap. 330) - to be moved by the Secretary for the Treasury
(LegCo Paper No. LS 196/96-97)
42.The Legal Adviser said that the resolutions sought LegCos approval of the revenue proposals of the 1997-98 Budget made under these two Ordinances. The two resolutions were in order from the legal point of view.
43.Members raised no query on the resolution.
(d) Bill - 1st and 2nd Readings
Outer Space Bill
44.The Chairman said that the Bill would be introduced into LegCo on 14 May 1997 and considered by the House Committee on 16 May 1997. The Bill had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
(e)Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading
Education (Amendment) Bill 1996
45.The Chairman said that members had agreed at a previous meeting that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on a date specified by Miss Christine LOH, the Member in charge of the Bill.
(f)Motion debate on "Right of abode"
46.Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Miss Margaret NG.
(g)Motion debate on "Civil liberties"
47.Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong.
48.The Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motion was 7 May 1997.
VIII.Advance information on motion debates for the LegCo sitting on
21 May 1997
(a)Debate on a motion to be moved by Mr NGAN Kam-chuen
49.The Chairman said that Mr NGAN had yet to advise the Secretariat of the subject of his motion.
(b)Motion debate on "Incident of 4 June 1989"
50.Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr SZETO Wah.
51.The Chairman said that the deadlines for giving notice of, and amendments to the above motions, if any, were 6 May 1997 and 14 May 1997 respectively.
IX.Reports of Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(a)Report of the Bills Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1441/96-97)
52.Referring members to the report, Mr Michael HO, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Committee stage amendments (CSAs) to be moved by the Administration had been agreed between the Bills Committee and the Administration.
53.Members agreed that subject to the CSAs and revised Regulation being in order, the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 14 May 1997.
(b)Report of the Bills Committee on Child Care Centres (Amendment) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2056/96-97)
54.Referring to the report, Mr Howard YOUNG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Administration had agreed to move some CSAs to address members concerns.
55.Members agreed that subject to the Chinese text of the CSAs to be moved by the Administration being in order, the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 14 May 1997.
(c)Report of the Subcommittee on Air Pollution Control (Construction Dust) Regulation
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1445/96-97, Chinese version of the paper tabled and in Appendix I)
56.Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the Subcommittee, said that the Subcommittee had held two meetings with the Administration and the Hong Kong Construction Association. The Subcommittee recommended that the Regulation be supported subject to the proposed amendments being agreed to by the Administration.
(d)Report of the Bills Committee on Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997
57.Miss Margaret NG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Bills Committee had reservations about a particular aspect of the Bill i.e. qualifications for a person to serve as a juror. In response, the Administration had agreed to conduct a review to address members concern one year after enactment of the Bill. Miss NG added that the Bills Committee had concluded its deliberation and agreed to release its slot pending its written report to the House Committee.
X.Position reports on Bills Committees and Subcommittees and Bills which must be passed before 1 July 1997
(LegCo Papers Nos. CB(2) 2084 & 2053/96-97)
58.The Chairman said that as members had previously agreed that the Bills Committee on Railways Bill could be reactivated in excess of the agreed quota, the total number of Bills Committees in action was therefore 19.
59.The Chairman said that the slot released by the Bills Committee on Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997 would be allocated to the Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill 1997 introduced by Mr LEE Cheuk-yan.
60.The Chairman referred members to the Director of Administrations letter dated 1 May 1997 enclosing an updated priority list of Government Bills (tabled and in Appendix II). Members endorsed the list.
XI.Any Other Business
Attendance rates of Bills Committees
61.The Chairman advised members that as at 29 April 1997, there were 19 Bills Committees in action. They held a total of 88 meetings during the period from 2 January 1997 to 29 April 1997. No meeting had to be cancelled due to lack of a quorum and about 80 % of the meetings had an attendance rate of 50% or above. He requested the Secretariat to circulate the relevant statistics for members information.
(Post-meeting note : LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2161/96-97 dated 5 May 1997 refers.)
62.Mr Ronald ARCULLI asked whether a committee meeting which had commenced could continue to be held if a quorum was temporarily absent during the meeting but the attention of the chairman was not drawn to such absence.
63.In response to the Chairman, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General said that under Standing Order No. 10, if the attention of the President was drawn to the fact that a quorum was not present, he would direct the Members to be summoned, and if a quorum was not present after 15 minutes, he would adjourn the Council. There were however no similar provisions under the Standing Orders for committees
of the Council. It would therefore be necessary to amend the Standing Orders if members decided that Standing Order No. 10 should apply to committees of the Council.
64.Mr ARCULLI disagreed that the quorum requirement for committees should be more stringent than that for the Council. He opined that a committee meeting need not be suspended or adjourned unless the question of the absence of a quorum was raised and that members could not be successfully summoned back to the meeting.
65.Dr YEUNG Sum said that while he agreed with Mr ARCULLIs view in principle, it would be difficult in practice to continue with a meeting of a committee with a small membership if there were only one or two members remaining in addition to the committee chairman.
66.Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that it would be undesirable for meetings to continue in the absence of a quorum, especially Bills Committee meetings. He expressed concern that the arrangement would affect the quality of scrutiny of bills.
67.Miss Emily LAU said that members should endeavour to attend and stay for meetings. Should members decide that the Standing Orders should be amended, the matter should be referred to the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters for consideration.
68.Mrs Selina CHOW said that amendments to the Standing Orders (SO) would not be necessary as the chairmen of committees already had the discretion to deal with such a situation e.g. under SOs 60D(11) and 60E(16). Her view was shared by Dr YEUNG Sum. Mr Martin LEE supplemented that as long as a quorum was present at the commencement of a meeting, the temporary absence of a quorum during a meeting was acceptable. Members raised no objection.
69.The meeting ended at 3:55 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
7 May 1997
Last Updated on 16 August 1999