LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1487/96-97
Ref : CB2/H/5
Minutes of 12th meeting
held on Friday, 7 March 1997
Members present :
at 2:30 pm.
in the Legislative Council Chamber
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Edward S T HO, 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 Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
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 CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon LAU Chin-shek
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
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
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Members absent :
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Assistant Secretary General 2
Staff in attendance :
I Confirmation of minutes of meeting held on 21 February 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1317/96-97)
The minutes were confirmed.
II Matters arising
Report on Chairmans meeting with the Chief Secretary
Legislative Programme 1996-97
2. The Chairman said that the House Committee had agreed to increase the number of Bills Committee from 15 to 18 to expedite the scrutiny of bills at the last meeting.
3. The Chairman said that the Chief Secretary had no objection in principle to the House Committees proposal that the sitting on 9 & 10 April 1997 be the deadline for the introduction of bills. He also reminded members that the same deadline would apply to Members Bills.
4. Referring to the time taken by the Administration to comment on "charging effect" of Members Bills, the Chairman informed members that there were still nine Members Bills for which a reply was still awaited. He would raise the matter with the Chief Secretary.
5. Miss Emily LAU said that the Government had published the Interception of Communications Bill in the form of a White Bill and that the consultation period would end on 4 April 1997. She expressed concern as to when the Bill would be introduced into LegCo and opined that the Bill, when introduced, should be given priority for scrutiny. The Chairman undertook to discuss the matter with the Chief Secretary.
III Legal Service Division reports on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 26 February 1997 and 5 March 1997 (gazetted on 21 and 28 February 1997)
(LegCo Papers Nos. LS 120 & 127/96-97)
6. On the subsidiary legislation gazetted on 28 February 1997, the Legal Adviser drew members attention to the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Amendment) (No 3) Regulation 1997 which was discussed by the Panel on Transport on 24 January 1997. He said that it was for members to decide whether a subcommittee should be set up to study the Regulation. He reminded members that the deadline for moving amendments to the Regulation was 19 March 1997, or 9 April 1997 if extended by resolution.
7. In response to Mr Zachary WONG, the Secretary General advised that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the Regulation at the sitting on 19 March 1997 was 12 March 1997.
8. Members raised no other queries on the subsidiary legislation gazetted on 21 and 28 February 1997.
IV Legal Service Division report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order 42(3A)
Bill introduced into LegCo on 26 February 1997
(a) Copyright Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 129/96-97)
9. The Legal Adviser briefed members on the Bill, which had to be passed before 1 July 1997. He said that the issue of parallel imports appeared to be the main area of concern and that a number of representations in relation to that aspect had been made to the Panel on Trade and Industry. He added that there were also other important issues including LegCo copyright which needed to be looked at. He suggested and members agreed that a Bills Committee should be formed to scrutinize the Bill in detail. The following members agreed to join the Bills Committee: Mrs Selina CHOW, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo and Miss Margaret NG.
Bills introduced into LegCo on 5 March 1997
(b) Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 126/96-97)
10. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill, which had to be passed before 1 July 1997, involved no new policy issues. He added that the Administrations response to comments made by the Hong Kong Bar Association was awaited.
11. In view of the importance of the procedure for application for writ of habeas corpus, Miss Margaret NG proposed and members agreed that a Bills Committee should be set up. The following members agreed to join the Bills Committee: Mr Martin LEE, Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Miss Christine LOH Kung-wai, Mr IP Kwok-him, Miss Margaret NG and Mrs Elizabeth WONG.
(c) Places of Public Entertainment (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 125/96-97)
12. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the object of the Bill and the deliberation of the Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport when the Bill was discussed at its meeting on 23 January 1997. He said that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
13. Mr James TO expressed concern as to whether protesters staging street performance would be considered as operating an illegal place of public entertainment. As this would have implications on freedom of expression, he would need more time to study the Bill. Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill.
(d) Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 128/96-97)
14. Members agreed to support the Bill in principle, subject to a further report from the Legal Service Division on some technical points concerning a general saving provision contained in the Bill.
(e) Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 123/96-97)
15. The Legal Adviser said that both the Fight Crime Committee and the Panel on Security had been consulted and supported the Bill. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
16. Mr Martin LEE said that the use of words in the Bill to refer to a female person under the age of 16 years was inconsistent. The Administration should be requested to review the inconsistency and to make amendments. The Legal Adviser agreed to bring the matter to the attention of the Administration.
17. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
V Business for the LegCo sitting on 19 March 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 693/96-97)
18. The Chairman said that 14 questions (6 oral and 8 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
19. Referring to his question on the offices of the Provisional Legislative Council members, Dr YEUNG Sum said that "1 July 1997" in part (c) should read "before 1 July 1997".
20. No statement had been notified.
(c) Government Motions
(i) Vote on Account Resolution 1997 under section 7(1) of the Public Finance Ordinance (Cap 2) - to be moved by the Secretary for the Treasury
(LegCo Paper No. LS 130/96-97)
21. The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the resolution was to seek LegCos approval to authorise expenditure for the services of the Government between 1 April 1997 and the date when the Appropriation Bill was formally approved by LegCo. The legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order.
22. Members raised no queries on the resolution.
(ii) Resolution under section 13 of the Radiation Ordinance (Cap 303) - to be moved by the Secretary for Health and Welfare
(LegCo Paper No. LS 131/96-97)
23. The Legal Adviser said that the Radiation (Control of Irradiating Apparatus)(Amendment) Regulation 1997 sought to revise the fees payable for different types of licences under the Ordinance and would come into effect on 21 March 1997. The legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order.
24. Members raised no queries on the resolution.
(iii) Resolution under section 4 of the Trading Funds Ordinance (Cap 430) - to be moved by the Secretary for Works
(LegCo Paper No. LS 132/96-97)
25. The Legal Adviser referred members to the Legal Service Divisions report tabled at the meeting (Appendix). The purpose of the resolution was to appropriate to the Sewage Services Trading Fund those parts of the public sewerage systems and sewage disposal facilities taken over by the Director of Drainage Services during the period from 1 April 1995 to 31 March 1996. According to the Administration, the resolution had to be passed within this financial year, i.e. at the sitting on 19 March 1997, which was the last sitting before the close of the current financial year.
26. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW, the Legal Adviser undertook to clarify with the Secretary of Works-
- whether the appropriation of assets to the Sewage Services Trading Fund under the Resolution would affect the charges for sewage services; and
- what the consequence would be if the resolution was not passed on 19 March 1997.
(d) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings
Justice of the Peace Bill
Registered Designs Bill
Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund (Amendment) Bill 1997
Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997
- Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill 1997
- Trade Unions (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
- Employment (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
- Long-Term Prison Sentences Review Bill
27. The Chairman informed members that the above Bills would be introduced into LegCo on 19 March 1997 and considered by the House Committee on 21 March 1997.
(e) Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading
Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill 1997
28. The Chairman said that members had agreed at the last meeting on 21 February 1997 that the Second Reading debate on the above Bill be resumed.
(f) Motion debate on "China Light and Powers excess generating capacity and the Scheme of Control Agreement"
29. Members noted the wording of the above motion which would be moved by Mr Michael HO.
(g) Motion debate on "Long Term Housing Strategy Review Consultative Document"
30. Members noted the wording of the above motion which would be moved by Mr LEE Wing-tat.
31. The Chairman advised members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 12 March 1997.
VI Reports of Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(a) Report of the Bills Committee on Fugitive Offenders Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1410/96-97)
32. Mr James TO, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported on the deliberations of the Bills Committee. He said that the Administration, in drafting the Bill, had followed the international approach of not spelling out in the principal legislation the death penalty exception. As requested by the Bills Committee, the Administration had agreed to add a provision to reflect the death penalty exception. The Administration would also move a number of other amendments to the Bill.
33. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 19 March 1997.
(b) Report of the Bills Committee on Television (Amendment) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1401/96-97)
34. Referring members to the report, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that Hong Kong would be the pioneer in providing video-on-demand programme service if it could be launched in July 1997, and that a comprehensive review would be conducted in 1998 to examine whether the issue of licences should be deregulated. He added that the Committee stage amendments to be moved by the Administration had the support of the Bills Committee.
35. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 19 March 1997.
(c) Report of the Bills Committee on Public Bus Services (Amendment) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 989/96-97)
36. Mr Zachary WONG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Bills Committee had concluded deliberation on the Bill which sought to amend the Ordinance to the effect that future fare revision would be tabled in LegCo as subsidiary legislation under the negative approval procedure. As for Committee stage amendments, Mr LAU Chin-shek, Member in charge of the Bill, would move some technical amendments, while Dr LAW Cheung-kwok would move amendments to link fare revision with the rate of inflation.
37. Members noted that Mr LAU had yet to decide on a date for the resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill.
(d) Report of the Bills Committee on Social Workers Registration Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1436/96-97)
38. Mr Michael HO, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that while the Administration had no objection to the proposed amendments in respect of constitution of the Board (Clause 3(3)) and use of the title of "social workers" (Clause 33), it had yet to decide whether it would move the amendments. He undertook to clarify the situation with the Administration and report at the next meeting. Mr HO added that since the Chinese text of the amendments had yet to be agreed between the Legal Service Division and the Law Draftsman, the Second Reading debate on the Bill was unlikely to be resumed on 19 March 1997 as originally intended.
VII Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1384/96-97 and Director of Administrations letters dated 25 February and 4 March 1997 )
39. The Chairman advised members that the three available slots would be allocated to the Bills Committees on the following Bills -
Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997; and
Education (Amendment) Bill 1996.
40. The Chairman referred members to the Director of Administrations letter dated 4 March 1997, in particular Annex 1, which listed the bills which had to be passed before 1 July 1997. The Chairman added that the total number of such bills was 46, and not 41 as previously advised by the Administration.
41. Referring to Annex 2 of the same letter, Mr LEE Wing-tat said that it was the view of the Members of the Democratic Party that the Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No 2) Bill which sought to make permanent the provision for charging stamp duty on agreements for the sale of residential property should not be deferred beyond 30 June 1997. He requested the Chairman to take the matter up with the Chief Secretary. Mr Ronald ARCULLI pointed out that even if the Bill could not be dealt with by 30 June 1997, the validity of the existing provision would not expire until 31 December 1997. However, he had no objection to Mr LEEs suggestion. Mr LEE supplemented that he was concerned that the Bill would not be given due priority after 30 June 1997.
42. Miss Margaret NG said that the Attorney General, when moving the Second Reading of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997 at the sitting on 5 March 1997, had said that the Administration was conducting an exercise which involved identifying those Acts in the Schedule to the Application of English Law Ordinance that were still of importance and re-enacting them in an updated form. She expressed concern as to when the bills, if any, would be introduced given that the Administration had still not completed the review exercise.
43. Miss Margaret NG also enquired when the Second Reading debate on the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996 would resume.
44. The Chairman undertook to convey the concerns raised by Mr LEE Wing-tat and Miss Margaret NG to the Chief Secretary.
45. In response to Miss Emily LAU, the Secretary General said that there was a suggestion at the last meeting that members should make use of lunch time to hold meetings, but no decision had been taken on the matter. After discussion, members agreed that an additional time slot for meetings should be provided during lunch hour i.e. there would be five time slots as follows-
Members noted that if a particular venue was booked consecutively for two different committee meetings, it would be necessary to end the first meeting 5 to 10 minutes earlier to allow the Stewards to prepare the venue for the next meeting.
46. To expedite scrutiny of bills, Mr LEE Wing-tat suggested that Bills Committees should try to schedule the next meeting within two weeks from the date of the last meeting. The Chairman said that the Administration should also be requested to respond to Bills Committees request for information and queries not later than two weeks time.
VIII Any Other Business
(a) Representation received by Duty Roster Members on poverty of low income tenants of public housing estates
(LegCo Paper No. CP 123/96-97)
47. Mr Edward HO, one of the Duty Roster Members, introduced the paper which sought the House Committees support for a joint meeting of the Panels on Education, Health, Housing and Welfare to be held to discuss a representation on poverty of low income tenants of public housing estates. He said that having regard to the membership of the four Panels, 12 Members including the Chairman were required to constitute a quorum for the meeting.
48. Mr Fred LI, Chairman of the Panel on Welfare Services, said that following his discussion with the chairmen of the other three Panels, it was agreed that the Panel on Welfare Services would convene a meeting to discuss the representation, and that members of the other three Panels as well as the policy branches concerned would be invited to attend the meeting. Members raised no objection to the arrangement.
(b) Verbal report of the House Committee delegation to Geneva to attend the hearing of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 3 and 4 March 1997
49. Mr James TO said that he would make a verbal report on behalf of the delegation at this meeting. The written report would be circulated to members when ready.
50. The gist of Mr TOs report was as follows-
- a number of untoward events had occurred before and during the hearing: the Periodic Report of the United Kingdom (UK) Government was sent to the Committee members at a very late stage; the informal meeting between the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Committee members before the hearing was deferred and also cut short from 45 minutes to 20 minutes, and the sudden illness of one of the Committee members during the hearing had caused some disruption to the proceedings of the Committee;
- members of the delegation had conveyed the House Committees observations on various issues as contained in the submission;
- According to the advice of the UK delegation, a person who had acquired British citizenship before 1 July 1997 would not be eligible for Special Administrative Region (SAR) passports and the right of abode in Hong Kong under Article 24 of the Basic Law. Hence, it would be to the benefit of the ethnic minorities that British citizenship be only granted to them after 1 July 1997. In the circumstances, members of the delegation had not pressed for completion of the registration process before 1 July 1997. Instead, they had asked the UK Government to complete all the necessary administrative and publicity arrangements for implementation of the scheme before that date.; and
- a representative from the Chinese Foreign Mission in Geneva attended the hearing as an observer on 4 March 1997.
51. Members noted that the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Bill, with amendments introduced by the Government, was passed by the House of Commons on 28 February 1997 and would be considered by House of Lords on 13 March 1997.
52. In response to Miss Emily LAU, Mr James TO said that he was informed by the UK delegation that a publicity campaign would be mounted in Hong Kong after the Bill was passed.
53. Mr Edward HO said that his understanding of the Basic Law was that non-Chinese nationals who had ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of seven years and had taken Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence would be eligible for the right of abode in Hong Kong. Given that the advice given by the UK delegation was different, he suggested that clarification be sought from the Administration.
54. After discussion, members agreed that the Panel on Security should follow up by writing to the Administration to enquire -
- whether the eligibility of the ethnic minorities for SAR passports and the right of abode would be affected if they were registered as British citizens before 1 July 1997; and
- what steps would be taken to implement the new scheme after the Bill was passed by the House of Lords.
55. Members also agreed that the views of the ethnic minorities on the matter should be sought by the Panel.
56. The meeting ended at 3:50 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
19 March 1997
Last Updated on 16 August 1999