LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 670/96-97
Ref : CB2/H/5
Legislative Council House Committee
Minutes of 10th meeting
held on Friday, 6 December 1996 at 3:35 p.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, CBE, 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 Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon Margaret NG
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Members absent :
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon LAU Chin-shek
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
- Miss Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mr Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Ms Kitty CHENG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mr Ross Clarke
- Public Relations Adviser
- Ms LEUNG Siu-kam
- 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 29 November 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 582/96-97)
The minutes were confirmed.
II Matters arising
(a) Report on Chairmans meeting with the Chief Secretary
2. The Chairman sought members view on a proposal made by Mr Ronald ARCULLI which was briefly discussed at the meeting with the Chief Secretary. Mr ARCULLI had suggested that when a Bills Committee was formed, membership should be called for immediately and then the chairman elected. The clerk, in consultation with the chairman, should then invite representations from the public. This would enable members of the Bills Committee to study the bill and the representations before the Bills Committee was activated, thus speeding up scrutiny of the Bill.
3. Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that he would support any measures to expedite the scrutiny of bills, but was concerned about the proposals impact on work commitment of Members and staff resources of the Secretariat. Under the proposal, Members would have to decide whether to join any of the Bills Committees on the waiting list, prior to their activation. This would place undue pressure on Members.
4. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested that the number of meeting slots in a day be increased from four to five. He opined that a time-slot of one and a half hours might be sufficient for Bills Committee meetings. Assistant Secretary General 1 advised that the duration of Panel meetings, which usually lasted for two hours, should also be taken into consideration. Moreover, it would not be practicable for the Secretariat to allocate dedicated time slots for Bills Committee meetings.
5. The Chairman suggested that Mr Ronald ARCULLIs proposal be considered by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters at its next meeting to be held on 10 December 1996. Members agreed.
(b) Firearms and Ammunition (Amendment) Bill 1996
6. The Chairman said that at the last meeting, members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill pending information on whether the concerns raised by the Panel on Security had been addressed by the Bill. According to the advice of the Legal Adviser, the Bill had not fully addressed the concerns raised by members of the Panel and that the Bill also introduced matters which the Panel had not discussed. The Bill should therefore be scrutinised by a Bills Committee as originally decided. Members agreed.
III Legal Service Division report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 4 December 1996 (gazetted on
29 November 1996)
(LegCo Paper No. LS 57/96-97)
7. The Legal Adviser drew members attention to the 10 items that involved fee increases which had previously been studied by a Subcommittee and repealed by LegCo by way of a resolution in November 1995. He referred members to the relevant LegCo Briefs for the basis and level of the proposed increases in these items. He added that the Administration had proposed a phased approach for full cost recovery in respect of items which involved substantial increases.
8. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested that a Subcommittee be set up to study the 10 items and that a resolution be moved to extend the scrutiny period. Members agreed. The following Members agreed to join the Subcommittee : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok and Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling.
9. Members raised no queries on the other items of subsidiary legislation.
IV Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 601/96-97)
10. The Chairman said that four Bills Committees would report to the Committee under agenda item IX below. Having regard to the fact that a slot had already been allocated to the Bills Committee on Consumer Goods Safety (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996 and Toys and Childrens Products Safety (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996 at the last meeting, and that a slot would be set aside to accommodate the reactivation of the Bills Committee on Public Bus Services (Amendment) Bill 1996, two vacant slots could be made available for Bills Committees on the waiting list.
11. The Chairman referred members to the Director of Administrations letter dated 5 December 1996 enclosing a revised priority list for Government Bills which was tabled at the meeting (at Appendix). He reminded members of the previous decisions of the House Committee that, in acceding to a request of the Administration for priority activation of Bills Committees on the waiting list, the order of the Bills Committees on Members Bills and on the Social Workers Registration Bill should not be affected.
12. The Chairman said that if members agreed to the revised priority list, the following two Bills Committees would be activated -
- Crimes (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996, if members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill under agenda item VI (c) below; and
- Television (Amendment) Bill 1996.
He sought members views on the Administrations proposal.
13. In response to Mr IP Kwok-him, the Chairman said that according to House Rule No. 21 (e), the decision on whether a bill was urgent rested with the House Committee.
14. Mr IP Kwok-him was of the view that priority scrutiny of the Crimes (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996 was not warranted as the Bill needed not be enacted before the change of sovereignty on 1 July 1997. He said that the Bills Committee, if formed, should join the queue in the normal manner.
15. Mr Albert HO Chun-yan said that the Bill should be accorded top priority as it had far-reaching and significant implications on the public. Moreover, as the substance of the Bill was both sensitive and complex, members should be given sufficient time for its scrutiny.
16. Mr James TO said that the House Committee had earlier requested the Administration to gazette the Bill for introduction into LegCo in the event that consensus could not be reached with the Chinese side by the end of January 1997. It would only be appropriate for members to respond positively to the Administrations proposal by giving the Bill high priority. His view was supported by Dr YEUNG Sum.
17. Miss Margaret NG was of the view that legislation relating to freedom of expression and human rights should be introduced into LegCo as early as possible. She was concerned about the progress of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1996 which set out specific provisions regarding Habeas Corpus currently applied to Hong Kong. She requested the Chairman to convey her concern to the Chief Secretary.
18. Mr Bruce LIU said that in considering whether to support the Bill, members should have due regard to the necessity of the Bill and whether the Bill, if enacted, could be retained beyond 1 July 1997. He was in support of setting up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. He also felt that it was the Administrations prerogative to decide on the priority of Government Bills on the waiting list.
19. After some discussion, the Administrations proposal to accord top priority to the scrutiny of the Bill was put to vote. There were 23 votes for and four votes against it. The Chairman declared that the Bills Committee on the Crimes (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996, if formed, would be activated immediately.
20. Members raised no objection to the revised priority list proposed by the Administration. In response to members, the Chairman undertook to convey to the Chief Secretary that frequent requests by the Administration to change the priority list would disrupt the work schedule of members and Secretariat staff.
Miss Emily LAU said that a number of important and urgent bills to be introduced into LegCo in the remainder of the session would require immediate consideration. She asked members to re-consider the House Committees previous decision of maintaining the position of Members Bills on the waiting list irrespective of changes to the priority of Government bills. The Chairman said that under critical circumstances, the House Committee could exercise flexibility as the decision on prioritisation of Bills Committees rested with the House.
V Further report by the Legal Service Division on outstanding bill
Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1996
22. The Chairman said that members had agreed at the last meeting to support the Bill in principle.
23. The Legal Adviser said that he had clarified all the points with the Administration. The drafting aspect of the Bill was in order.
24. Mr Ronald ARCULLI informed members that there were certain grey areas on which he was seeking clarification from the Secretary for the Treasury. Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill.
VI Legal Service Division report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order 42(3A)
(a) Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions and Minor Amendments) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. LS 59/96-97)
25. The Chairman said that this was one of the 41 Bills which had to be enacted before 1 July 1997.
26. Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill pending a further report from the Legal Service Division on the following points -
- Transfer of power to make subsidiary legislation
Mr Edward HO said that more information should be provided to members on the proposal to transfer the power to make subsidiary legislation from the Governor-in-Council to a Branch Secretary, a Department Head, a statutory board or a committee. He was concerned about the implications of delegation of such power;
- Amendments relating to the age of majority
Mr Edward HO would like to know the reasons for reducing the age of majority from 21 to 18 in the Domestic Violence Ordinance (Cap. 189) and the Adoption Ordinance (Cap. 290);
- Consent to marriage
Miss Margaret NG said that the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services was concerned that the Bill might create conflicts within a family if one of the parents refused to give consent to the marriage. She would like to know whether this point had been considered by the Administration;
- Definition in the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200)
Miss Margaret NG was concerned whether the proposal to amend the definition of "defective" to include persons who were "incapable of living an independent life" was in order; and
- Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance
The Legal Adviser said that the Bill proposed that when a registered person applied for the issue of a practising certificate, he might be required to submit evidence that he had not been convicted of any offence punishable with imprisonment in the past 12 months. The same requirement was proposed under the Dentists Registration (Amendment) Bill 1996. The Administration had been requested to advise whether the relevant professional bodies had been consulted.
27. In response to Mr Albert HO, Deputy Secretary General said that under SO 45 (4)(a), an amendment to a bill "must be relevant to the subject matter of the bill and to the subject matter of the clause to which it relates". The Legal Adviser said that members who intended to consider amendments to the Bill could approach the Legal Service Division.
(b) Occupational Safety and Health Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 55/96-97)
28. Referring members to paragraph 5 of the report, the Legal Adviser said that the Bill, unlike the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59) which specifically protected workers in the manufacturing, construction and catering industries, would apply to all employees at work. The Legal Service Division was still scrutinising the Bill.
29. Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Deputy Chairman of the Panel on Manpower, said that the Panel would seek further clarification from the Administration on certain aspects of the Bill. Should the House Committee decide that a Bills Committee be formed to study the Bill, she requested that the Committee be given priority.
30. Mr LEE Kai-ming informed members that the Administration had carried out extensive consultation with relevant parties including the Labour Advisory Board. All the parties were in support of the proposed legislation.
31. Mr Ronald ARCULLI advised that the Director of Administration had already recommended that priority be given to this Bill Committee, if formed. He suggested that a Bills Committee be formed and put on the waiting list, pending any further recommendation from the Panel. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Mr James TIEN Pei-chun, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo and Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung.
(c) Crimes (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. LS 62/96-97)
32. Miss Emily LAU suggested and members agreed to set up a Bills Committee. The following members agreed to join : Mr Frederick FUNG Kin-kee, Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee, Miss Margaret NG, Mr TSANG Kin-shing and Mrs Elizabeth WONG.
(d) Carriage By Air Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 56/96-97)
33. The Chairman said that this was one of the 41 Bills which had to be enacted before 1 July 1997.
34. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to localize the English law presently extended to Hong Kong. Members agreed to support the Bill in principle, subject to a further report from the Legal Service Division.
(e) Protection of Harbour Bill - Members Bill introduced by Miss Christine LOH
(LegCo Paper No. LS 52/96-97)
35. The Legal Adviser briefed members on the objects of the Bill. He said that the Bill had policy implications and recommended that a Bills Committee be set up.
36. Referring members to paragraphs 13 and 14 of the report, Mr Edward HO pointed out that the subject of harbour reclamation, rather than Miss LOHs Bill, was discussed at two joint meetings of the Panels on Environmental Affairs and Planning, Lands and Works, one of which was attended by ten concerned groups. Moreover, the Bill in its present form was also different from the previous version. He suggested that a Bills Committee be set up. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Mr Edward S T HO, Mr Albert CHAN Wai-yip, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr IP Kwok-him, Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok and Mr TSANG Kin-shing.
(f) The Methodist Church, Hong Kong, Incorporation (Amendment) Bill 1996 - Members Bill introduced by Mr LAU Chin-shek
(LegCo Paper No. LS 58/96-97)
37. The Legal Adviser said that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
VII Further business for the LegCo sitting on 11 December 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 294/96-97)
38. The Chairman said that with two additional questions seeking an oral reply to be raised by Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung and Mr Albert HO respectively, a total of 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been scheduled for the sitting. He reminded members to give early notice of questions in order to allow sufficient time for the Administration to prepare its replies.
(b) Bill - 1st and 2nd Readings
Housing (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1996
(Members Bill to be introduced by Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung)
39. The Chairman said that the Bill would be introduced into LegCo on 11 December 1996 and considered by the House Committee on 20 December 1996.
(c) Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading
Public Order (Amendment) Bill 1996 - Members bill introduced by Mr James TO
40. The Chairman advised members that the Administration had given notice to move Committee stage amendments to the Bill.
VIII Business for the LegCo sitting on 18 December 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 295/96-97)
41. 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
42. No statement had been notified.
(c) Government Motion
Resolution under section 89 of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 480) - to be moved by the Secretary for Home Affairs
(LegCo Paper No. LS 61/96-97)
43. The Chairman said that the resolution had been studied and supported by the Subcommittee which would report on its deliberations under agenda item IX below.
(d) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings
(i) Ozone Layer Protection (Amendment) Bill 1996
(ii) Employees Retraining (Amendment) Bill 1996
44. The Chairman informed members that the Bill would be introduced into LegCo on 18 December 1996 and considered by the House Committee on 20 December 1996.
(e) Bills - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading
(i) Submarine Telegraph Bill
(ii) Wild Animals Protection (Amendment) Bill 1996
(iii) Arbitration (Amendment) Bill 1996
(iv) Post-Release Supervision of Prisoners (Amendment) Bill 1996
45. The Chairman said that at the meetings on 22 November 1996 and 29 November 1996, members had agreed that the Second Reading debates of the above Bills be resumed.
(f) Motion debate on "Town Planning Bill"
46. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Albert CHAN.
(g) Motion debate on "Regulating credit card business"
47. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Dr LAW Cheung-kwok.
48. The Chairman advised that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 11 December 1996.
IX Reports of Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(a) Report of the Bills Committee on the Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 449/96-97)
49. Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported on the deliberations of the Bills Committee. He said that the Administration would move Committee stage amendments to address the concerns raised by the Bills Committee. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 18 December 1996.
(b) Report of the Bills Committee on the Commissioner of Administrative Complaints (Amendment) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 584/96-97)
50. Mr Bruce LIU, Deputy Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Administration and a few members would move Committee stage amendments to the Bill. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 18 December 1996.
(c) Report of the Bills Committee on the Companies (Amendment) Bill 1996
51. Mrs Miriam LAU, Chairman of the Bills Committee, gave a verbal report on the deliberations of the Bills Committee on the doctrine of ultra vires and deregulation of statutory forms under the Ordinance. In response to the Bills Committee, the Administration had agreed to move Committee stage amendments to the Bill. The Bills Committee had agreed to release its slot for the activation of a Bills Committee on the waiting list.
52. In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs LAU said that after the abolition of the ultra vires doctrine, protection to third parties would be increased. A detailed report would be made to the House Committee on 20 December 1996.
(d) Report of the Bills Committee on the Environmental Impact Assessment Bill
53. Mr Edward HO, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that the Bills Committee would make a detailed report to the House Committee on 20 December 1996, and that it had agreed to release its slot for the activation of a Bills Committee on the waiting list.
(e) Report of the Subcommittee on the Rules and Codes of Practice on Employment under Sex Discrimination Ordinance and Disability Discrimination Ordinance gazetted on 15 November 1996 and Resolution under section 89 of Sex Discrimination Ordinance
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 590/96-97)
54. Mr Michael HO, Chairman of the Subcommittee, reported on the deliberations of the Subcommittee. He said that members of the Subcommittee were in support of the four sets of Rules and the Resolution under section 89 of Sex Discrimination Ordinance. Members however had divergent views on the subject of equal pay for work of equal value under the Codes of Practice on Employment.
55. Mr James TIEN added that representatives of the employers and employees on the Equal Opportunities Commission had different views on the subject. Members of the Subcommittee were exploring means to reach a compromise.
56. The Legal Adviser informed members that the Equal Opportunities Commission had agreed to propose appropriate amendments to the Chinese version of the Codes.
57. The Chairman advised that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the Rules and Codes was 11 December 1996.
X Any Other Business
Report of the House Committee delegation to observe the hearing of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights from 26 to 28 November 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 593/96-97)
58. The Chairman said that four members, namely Mr James TO, Miss Christine LOH, Mr Bruce LIU and Mrs Elizabeth WONG, had observed the hearing of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee) on 26 November 1996 and 27 November 1996. Mrs Elizabeth WONG had attended the extended hearing on 28 November 1996.
59. Referring to the report and on behalf of the delegation, Mrs Elizabeth WONG highlighted the following points for members attention -
- There was tremendous support for the presence of non-governmental organisations including the House Committee delegation in the hearing;
- On reporting obligation, the Committee was of the view that it would be best for China to become a party to the Covenant. There should not be any legal obstacle for Hong Kong to continue reporting under the wing of the future sovereign power;
- The Committee showed interests in the status of the non-Chinese ethnic minorities after June 1997 and was also concerned about reported cases of mal-treatment of Vietnamese migrants;
- On housing, the Committee asked that the total eradication of "cage" homes should be given priority. It also questioned the so-called "monopoly" of the property market; and
- The Committee expressed the view that Hong Kong Government could do more in the areas of health and welfare.
60. The meeting ended at 5:03 p.m.
Legislative Council Secretariat
12 December 1996
Last Updated on 16 August 1999