LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2237/96-97
Ref : CB2/H/5
Legislative Council House Committee
Minutes of 25th meeting
held on Friday, 9 May 1997 at 2:30 pm
in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
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
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
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 CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
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
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
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 Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Members absent :
Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JPClerk in attendance :
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Assistant Secretary General 2
- 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 Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- 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
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- 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 2 May 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2154/96-97)
1. The minutes were confirmed.
II Matters arising
(a) Report on Chairmans meeting with the Chief Secretary
(i) Attendance at case conference
2. Referring to the complaint raised by Mr Zachary WONG, the Chairman said that he had suggested that the Legal Aid Department should send a representative to attend the case conference. The Director of Administration had agreed to follow up.
(ii) Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996
3. The Chairman said that the Chief Secretary had advised that the Administration was still considering whether there was any mutually acceptable compromise.
|4. Miss Margaret NG said that unless the Administration could give a definite reply promptly, consideration should be given to the introduction of a Members Bill to ensure that a local appointment system for notaries public could be in place before 1 July 1997. The Chairman said that he would raise the matter with the Chief Secretary.||Chairman|
(iii) Interception of Communications Bill
5. The Chairman referred members to the Governors reply dated 5 May 1997 on the subject (tabled and in Appendix I) which implied that the Administration was unlikely to introduce the Bill into LegCo.
6. Members noted that Mr James TO had introduced a Bill on the same subject and that a Bills Committee had been formed and ranked 22 on the waiting list.
7. Miss Emily LAU, Chairman of the Panel on Information Policy, said that the Panel had discussed the subject at the meeting held in the morning. According to the Administration, the outcome of its informal discussions with various political parties had indicated that there would unlikely be sufficient support for the Bill, if introduced. Miss LAU said that as interception of communications constituted a violation of human rights, appropriate legislative control should be put in place before 1 July 1997. Having regard to the complexity of the subject matter and the unwillingness of the Administration to introduce a Government Bill, she proposed that Mr TOs Members Bill be accorded priority for scrutiny.
8. Mr James TO said that while he supported Miss LAUs proposal, it was a matter for the House Committee to decide.
9. Mrs Selina CHOW said that while she agreed that the Bill was an important piece of legislation, she had reservations that it warranted priority scrutiny. She pointed out that should a Member in charge of a bill considered that his bill was urgent, he was at liberty to give notice to resume Second Reading debate on the bill provided that sufficient notice was given under Standing Orders.
10. Mr IP Kwok-him said that members were already making the best effort to expedite scrutiny of bills introduced into LegCo to ensure that they could be enacted in the current session as far as possible. He opined that all Members Bills were equally important, and that Mr TOs Bill should be processed in the normal manner.
11. The Chairman advised that the Bills Committee on the Employment (Amendment) Bill 1997 introduced by Mr LEE Cheuk-yan which was at the sixth position on the waiting list would be the first Bills Committee on a Members Bill to be activated. The Chairman said that it would be up to members to decide whether Mr TOs Bill should be scrutinized ahead of other Members Bills subject to not affecting the order of Government Bills on the waiting list.
|12. In order to allow sufficient time for members to consider her proposal to accord priority to the Bills Committee on Mr TOs Bill, Miss Emily LAU suggested to defer a decision to the next meeting. Members agreed to urge the Administration to reconsider its position. Members also agreed that the Chairman should write to the Governor.||Chairman|
13. Mr Ronald ARCULLI reminded members that Standing Order No. 42(3B)(d) required a Member or public officer in charge of a bill to give not less than 12 clear days notice for resumption of Second Reading debate. The Chairman added that the deadlines for giving notice of resumption of Second Reading debates on bills for the last two sittings, if they were to be held on 17 June 1997 and 23 June 1997 were 31 May 1997 and 6 June 1997 respectively.
(b) Sailors Home and Missions to Seamen Incorporation (Transfer of Undertaking) Bill - Members Bill introduced by Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung
14. Mr Eric LI said that after consulting all the relevant parties including the sailors union as advised by Mr CHAN Wing-chan, he had decided not to seek resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill because it contained controversial issues which had yet to be resolved. The decision was supported by all parties concerned. The Administration had been advised of the decision and raised no objection.
III Legal Service Division report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 7 May 1997 (gazetted on 2 May 1997)
(LegCo Paper No. LS 201/96-97)
15. Referring members to the paper, the Chairman said that there were three items of subsidiary legislation which involved fee increases.
16. The Legal Adviser drew members attention to the Housing Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule) Order 1997 (L.N. 189) which sought to relax the resale restrictions on flats under the Home Ownership Scheme and the Private Sector Participation Scheme with effect from 5 June 1997. He said that the Order introduced new policies and that the Administration would brief the Panel on Housing on the following Monday, 12 May 1997. The Legal Service Division was seeking clarifications from the Administration on certain drafting points.
17. Dr YEUNG Sum suggested and members agreed that a subcommittee should be formed to study the Order. The following members agreed to join : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Miss Emily LAU, Mr LEE Wing-tat (as advised by Dr YEUNG Sum) and Mr CHAN Kam-lam.
18. Noting that the Order would come into operation on 5 June 1997, members agreed not to extend the scrutiny period to 11 June 1997. The Chairman advised that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the Order at the sitting on 4 June 1997 was 28 May 1997.
19. Members raised no queries on the remaining items of subsidiary legislation.
IV Further reports by the Legal Service Division on outstanding bills
(a) Midwives Registration (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 202/96-97)
20. The Legal Adviser said that in response to the Legal Service Division, the Administration had agreed to move a Committee stage amendment (CSA) to repeal the existing regulation under the Ordinance and also introduce a new set of regulation after the Bill was passed.
21. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(b) The Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS 203/96-97)
22. The Legal Adviser said that in response to the Legal Service Division, the Administration would move some CSAs to the Chinese texts of the Bill to achieve consistency in translation and improve the drafting of the Bill. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
23. Dr YEUNG Sum informed members that in response to the proposal of the Panel on Education that LegCo Members be included on the Council of Institute, the Administration had undertaken to review the composition of the governing bodies of universities at a later stage.
24. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(c) Transfer of Sentenced Persons Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS 204/96-97)
25. The Legal Adviser said that in response to Mr James TOs query, the Administration had agreed to move a CSA to clause 6 of the Bill to spell out the policy intention more clearly. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
26. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
V Further business for the LegCo sitting on 14 May 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 959/96-97)
27. The Chairman said that Mr Fred LI and Dr YEUNG Sum had given notice to change their questions before the deadline. He reiterated that members should avoid changing questions as far as possible in order not to create unnecessary work for the Administration.
VI Business for the LegCo sitting on 21 May 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 960/96-97)
28. 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
29. No statement had been notified.
(c) Government Motion
30. No motion had been notified.
(d) Motion debate on "Promotion of building safety"
31. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr NGAN Kam-chuen (tabled at the meeting).
(e) Motion debate on "4 June 1989 pro-democracy movement"
32. Members noted the revised wording of the motion to be moved by Mr SZETO Wah.
33. The Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 14 May 1997, and that the normal speaking arrangements should apply.
VII Advance information on motion debates for the LegCo sitting on
28 May 1997
(a) Debate on a motion to be moved by Miss CHAN Yuen-han
34. The Chairman said that Miss CHAN had yet to advise the Secretariat of the subject of her motion.
(b) Motion debate on "Final Report of the Review of the Trade Effluent Surcharge Scheme"
35.Members noted the subject of the motion to be moved by Mr James TIEN.
36. The Chairman advised members that the deadlines for giving notice of, and amendments, if any, to the above motions were 13 May 1997 and 21 May 1997 respectively.
VIII Reports of Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(a) Report of the Bills Committee on Estate Agents Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1478/96-97)
37. Mr Andrew CHENG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported on the deliberations of the Bills Committee. He said that other than the CSAs relating to the composition of the Estate Agents Authority to be moved by Mr LEE Wing-tat, the remaining CSAs to be moved by the Administration had been agreed between the Administration and the Bills Committee.
|38. Miss Margaret NG said that the legal profession was concerned about the legal effect of the provisional sale and purchase agreement and asked whether the subject had been discussed by the Bills Committee. In view of the large number of meetings held by the Bills Committee, Mr CHENG agreed to let Miss NG know after checking the relevant records.||ASG1|
39. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 21 May 1997.
(b) Report of the Bills Committee on Government Rent (Assessment and Collection) Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1422/96-97)
40. Miss Margaret NG reported on the deliberations of the Bills Committee on behalf of Mr Albert CHAN, Chairman of the Bills Committee, who was then not at the meeting. She drew members attention to a CSA to be moved by the Bills Committee which would have the effect of exempting certain tenements from the liability to pay Government rent. She said that the Administrations comments on possible "charging effect" of the CSA was still awaited. Mr Ronald ARCULLI opined that the question of loss of revenue should not arise because the Government rent involved was new money.
41. Members noted that the Bills Committee recommended that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 21 May 1997, and Assistant Legal Adviser 1s advice that the Administration might choose to have the Second Reading debate resumed at a later sitting.
(c) Report of the Bills Committee on Mass Transit Railway Corporation (Amendment) Bill 1996 and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (Amendment) Bill 1996
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1439/96-97)
42. Mr Zachary WONG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that members of the Bills Committee had not reached any consensus. The Bills Committee recommended that the Second Reading debate on the Bills be resumed on a date to be decided by Mr SIN Chung-kai, the Member in charge. Members agreed.
43. Dr LAW Cheung-kwok advised members that he might, on behalf of the Association for Democracy and Peoples Livelihood, move a CSA to the Bill.
(d) Report of the Bills Committee on Justices of the Peace Bill
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2177/96-97)
44. Mr IP Kwok-him, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported on the deliberations of the Bills Committee. He said that in response to the Bills Committee, the Administration had agreed to retain the power of Justices of the Peace to take and receive declarations under the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance.
45. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 21 May 1997.
(e) Report of the Subcommittee on Resolution under section 32A(2) of the Television Ordinance (Cap. 52)
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2153/96-97)
46. Mr NGAN Kam-chuen, Chairman of the Subcommittee, said that the Subcommittee had agreed to support the two Regulations. The Administration would move the resolution on 21 May 1997.
47. In response to Mr James TO, Mrs Selina CHOW pointed out that subliminal advertising should be prohibited because advertising material should be clearly identifiable by viewers as a commercial advertisement conveying a clear message of what it was about. Mr NGAN said that the subject was raised by the Subcommittee and members were satisfied with the Administrations explanation.
48. The Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the Regulations at the sitting on 21 May 1997 was 14 May 1997.
(f) Report of the Panel on Security - Resettlement opportunities for Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong
49. Mr James TO said that the Panel had a meeting with the Assistant High Commissioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 2 May 1997 to discuss the resettlement opportunities of about 1 100 Vietnamese refugees who would still remain in Hong Kong after 30 June 1997. The Assistant High Commissioner had advised that he was not in a position to discuss the issue. In a bid to appeal for the cooperation of the international community to resettle the refugees remaining in Hong Kong, a meeting with representatives of the consulates of resettlement countries was being arranged by the Panel.
50. Referring to a motion seeking Britains commitment to resettle and take care of all Vietnamese migrants not repatriated to Vietnam before 1 July 1997 moved by Mrs Selina CHOW and passed by the Council on 29 November 1995, Mr TO added that it was the consensus of the Council that the British Government had a responsibility to resolve the problem before the handover. The Panel therefore wished to seek the House Committees view on how the matter could be further pursued.
51. Members agreed that this item should be discussed together with the following item.
(g) Report of the Panel on Security - Late applications for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Passports
52. Mr James TO said that the Panel on Security had a meeting with the Senior British Trade Commissioner and representatives of the British Trade Commission (BTC) on 6 May 1997 regarding late applications for BN(O) passports. The Panel noted that hundreds of late applications had been rejected since the BTC took over the responsibility for issuing BN(O) passports from the Immigration Department on 1 April 1997. The Panel found the BTCs refusal to handle late applications unacceptable, on the ground that eligible Hong Kong citizens were entitled to acquire BN(O) passports before 30 June 1997, and that the phased registration programme only aimed to avoid a last-minute rush for the passport. Moreover, none of the 120,000 late applications previously handled by the Immigration Department had been rejected. The Panel had requested BTC to exercise flexibility in handling late applications. Mr TO added that subsequent to the meeting, the Senior Trade Commissioner had replied that he would consult the relevant authority in London and provide a substantive response in due course. The Panel would like to seek the House Committees view on how the matter should be further pursued.
53. In response to some members, Miss Emily LAU reiterated that although there were legal deadlines for applying for BN(O) passports, eligible persons should not be deprived of such a right before 30 June 1997, and that the United Kingdom (UK) Government had a moral obligation to ensure that this was done.
54. After some discussion, members agreed to the following courses of action -
|- The Chairman would write to the UK Prime Minister to convey the House Committees concerns and views on late applications for BN(O) passports and resettlement opportunities of Vietnamese refugees;||Chairman|
- A House Committee delegation comprising Mrs Selina CHOW, Miss Emily LAU and Mr James TO would visit London at the end of the month to pursue these two matters with the UK Government direct (The Secretary General advised that there should be funds available to finance the delegation, and agreed to confirm this after checking the financial position);
- If the problem of late applications for BN(O) passports could be satisfactorily resolved by BTC promptly, the delegation would not be necessary. Members noted that as Mrs Selina CHOW, Miss Emily LAU and Mr James TO would be in London in late May, they would seek meetings with the Foreign Office to urge the UK Government to accept as many Vietnamese refugees as possible. Other Members were welcomed to join if they happened to be in London at that time.
IX Position reports on Bills Committees and Subcommittees and Bills which must be passed before 1 July 1997
(LegCo Papers Nos. CB(2) 2187 & 2160/96-97)
55. The Chairman said that although four Bills Committees had earlier reported to this meeting, their slots had already been released and allocated.
56. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee on the Official Secrets Bill had completed work and agreed to release its slot pending report to House Committee. In accordance with the Director of Administrations letter dated 8 May 1997 (tabled and at Appendix II), the slot was to be allocated to the Bills Committee on Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 1997 which had to be enacted before 1 July 1997. Members agreed.
X Any Other Business
Places of Public Entertainment (Amendment) Bill 1997
57. The Chairman highlighted the previous deliberations of the Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport and the House Committee on the Bill. As Mrs Selina CHOWs motion to adjourn the Second Reading debate on the Bill was passed at the LegCo sitting on 7 May 1997, he sought members views on how the Bill should be dealt with. He said that according to the revised priority list of Government bills attached to the Director of Administrations letter dated 8 May 1997, a Bills Committee for the study of the Bill, if formed, would rank 19 on the list.
58. Mrs Selina CHOW said that as she had explained in her speech in moving the motion at the sitting on 7 May 1997, it only came to her notice at a very late stage that some issues raised by the Hong Kong Theatres Association Limited (the Association) had to be resolved before the Bill was passed; otherwise, it would only give rise to complaints and difficulties in implementation. She proposed that a case conference be arranged with the relevant Government departments to discuss the Bill.
59. Dr YEUNG Sum disagreed that a Bills Committee should be set up because it would delay the enactment of the Bill. However, he had no objection for the matter to be further pursued by the relevant Panel or a case conference.
60. Mr Lawrence YUM, Chairman of the Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, said that the Associations concerns were related to the licensing procedures for places of entertainment. Since the subject had already been discussed by the Panel, it would be more appropriate for it to be further pursued by a case conference, if considered necessary by members. In response to Mrs CHOW, Mr YUM said that the representatives of the Urban Services Department and the Regional Services Department were present at the Panel meeting when the Bill was discussed.
61. Mr James TO expressed concern about the unusual procedure proposed for the scrutiny of this Bill, given that the concerns raised by the Association had been adequately discussed by the Panel and that the House Committee had already agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill should resume.
62. Miss Margaret NG opined that discussion by the Panel or a case conference would only delay enactment of the Bill. Since the concerns raised were related to administrative procedures, they should be pursued as a separate issue.
63. In response to members comments that the concerns of the Association were not directly related to the Bill, Mrs Selina CHOW disagreed and pointed out that the Bill sought to empower the two municipal councils to apply for a Closure Order to close an unlawful place of entertainment, e.g. an unlicensed theatre. The licensing procedure was therefore relevant to the Bill.
64. The Chairman said that this was another example which demonstrated the unsatisfactory situation of referring a bill to a Panel in the hope that the scrutiny process could be expedited.
|65. After further discussion, members raised no objection to Mrs CHOWs proposal of holding a case conference with the Administration to discuss the Associations concerns and to seek further clarifications on the Bill. Mr Albert HO said that to facilitate members consideration of the Bill, the discussion of the case conference should be reported to the House Committee.||CAS(C)|
66. The meeting ended at 4:05 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
14 May 1997
Last Updated on 16 August 1999