LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1652/96-97
Ref : CB2/H/5
Legislative Council House Committee
Minutes of 19th meeting
held on Friday, 21 March 1997 at 3:55 p.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
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 YEUNG Sum
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
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 David CHU Yu-lin
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 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 Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon LAU Chin-shek
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
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
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Ms Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Ms LEUNG Siu-kam
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Ms Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Mrs Percy MA
- Chief Assistant Secretary (House Committee)
- Ms Estella CHAN
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (House Committee)
- Ms Christine LIU
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
I Confirmation of minutes of meeting held on 7 March 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1487/96-97)
The minutes were confirmed.
II Matters arising
Report on Chairmans meeting with the Chief Secretary
(a) Geneva Conventions Bill
The Chairman said that the Bill aimed to localize the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 on the treatment of civilians, prisoners of war and the sick and wounded in time of war. The Administration had advised that the chance of having to invoke such provisions was remote and therefore the Bill was not on the priority list.
(b) Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No 2) Bill
The Chairman said that at the last meeting, Mr LEE Wing-tat expressed concern that the Bill would not be given due priority after 30 June 1997. The Administration had agreed to accord a higher priority to the Bill but the position of the Bills Committee on Nurses Registration (Amendment) Bill 1997 on the waiting list was slightly lowered, as a result.
(c) Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996
The Chairman said that the Administration had advised that the Second Reading debate on the Bill would be resumed in April.
In response to Miss Margaret NG, the Chairman said that the Administration had agreed to the House Committees recommendation that the deadline for the introduction of Government Bills and Members Bills be set at the sitting on 9 & 10 April 1997. However, flexibility would be exercised in exceptional circumstances.
Miss Margaret NG said that should the Administration delay the resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill, a Members Bill covering the same legislative proposals might become necessary. The deadline should not apply to such a case, given that the legislative proposals had already been thoroughly deliberated by a Bills Committee. The Chairman undertook to convey the message to the Chief Secretary.
(d) Application of English Law Ordinance
The Chairman said that the Attorney General had undertaken to give a full reply to the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services.
(e) Places of Public Entertainment (Amendment) Bill 1997
In response to the Chairman, Mr James TO said that he required more time to study the Bill and would report at the next meeting.
The Chairman said that the Hong Kong Theatres Association Ltd had sent in a submission, which was tabled at the meeting (Appendix I), raising strong objection to the Bill.
Mr MOK Ying-fan commented that some of the views expressed by the Association were one-sided. He suggested and members agreed that the Panel on Broadcasting, Culture and Sport should follow up the representation. Mr YUM Sin-ling, Chairman of the Panel, agreed. Members noted that the next meeting of the Panel would be held on 24 April 1997.
III Legal Service Division reports on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 12 March 1997 and 19 March 1997 (gazetted on 7, 12 and 14 March 1997)
(LegCo Papers Nos. LS133, 145 and 142/96-97)
The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the five Public Revenue Protection Orders, as explained in LegCo Paper No. LS145/96-97, was to give interim effect to some of the budget proposals to be introduced into LegCo in the form of bills or resolutions.
Referring to LegCo Paper No LS142/96-97, the Legal Adviser drew members attention to the Western Harbour Crossing Regulation which set out the duties and powers of the Western Harbour Tunnel Company. Mr IP Kwok-him said that he had given notice to introduce three bills to amend the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations, the Eastern Harbour Road Tunnel Regulations and the Tates Cairn Tunnel Regulations to bring the standard of air quality in compliance with the Practice Notes on Control of Air Pollution in Vehicle Tunnels issued by the Environmental Protection Department. As the standard of air quality of the Western Harbour Crossing Regulation was less stringent than those specified in the Practice Notes, he would seek to amend the Regulation to upgrade the requirement.
Members raised no queries on other items of subsidiary legislation.
IV Further report by the Legal Service Division on outstanding bill
Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS144/96-97)
The Legal Adviser said that the Legal Service Division had completed study of the Bill and was satisfied that the drafting was in order.
Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Chairman of the Panel on Financial Affairs, reported that having discussed the Bill, the Panel was in support of its general principles and considered a Bills Committee unnecessary.
Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
V Legal Service Division report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order 42(3A)
(a) Justices of the Peace Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS135/96-97)
The Chairman advised that this was one of the 46 bills which had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to provide for the appointment, functions, resignation and removal of Justices of the Peace (JP) in Hong Kong. The Legal Service Division was currently seeking clarification from the Administration on some drafting points and would provide a further report.
In response to Mr IP Kwok-him and Mr Eric LI, the Legal Adviser and Assistant Legal Adviser 5 explained that the Bill, if passed, would remove the judicial and quasi-judicial functions currently performed by JPs, such as the issue of warrants or orders and the administering of oaths or declaration. Other functions such as paying visits to custodial institutions would be retained. Miss Margaret NG supplemented that the Administration had explained in the LegCo Brief that with the development of a professional judiciary, these functions were no longer exercised by lay JPs and that not many JPs had any formal legal training.
Mr Eric LI asked whether staff in District Offices who did not have formal legal training would still be allowed to administer oaths or declarations. The Legal Adviser said that certain officers in District Offices were appointed as Commissioners for Oath by the Chief Justice under the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance (Cap. 11). As far as he was aware, the arrangement would remain unchanged.
Mr IP kwok-him said that since the Bill would introduce fundamental changes to the functions of JP, it should be studied by a Bills Committee. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join: Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr IP Kwok-him and Mr NGAN Kam-chuen.
(b) Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS143/96-97)
The Chairman advised that the Bill had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
The Legal Adviser briefed members on the objects of the Bill and said that this was an important piece of legislation which warranted detailed study by members.
In view of the wide implications of the Bill, Miss Margaret NG suggested and members agreed that a Bills Committee should be set up to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join: Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing, Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung, Mr James TO Kun-sun and Miss Margaret NG.
(c) Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS137/96-97)
The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to empower the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Council to solicit and accept donations, subscriptions and bequests on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Fund. The Administration had clarified a technical point raised earlier by the Legal Service Division, the Bill was now legally in order.
Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(d) Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS134/96-97)
(e) Trade Unions (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS140/96-97)
(f) Employment (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. LS138/96-97)
The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the three Bills should be considered at the same time.
The Legal Adviser briefly explained the objects of the Bills. He said that the Bills sought to give effect to the results of the review of the labour relations system after the Cathay Pacific Airway strike in January 1993. The Panel on Manpower was briefed on the Bills on 18 March 1997.
Mrs Selina CHOW said that she and Mr CHAN Kam-lam had met with representatives of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association in their capacity as Duty Roster Members on 18 March 1997. The Association, which represented more than 150 000 families, had expressed concern about the Employment (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997 and requested an opportunity to present its views to Members.
Mr James TIEN said that a Bills Committee would not be necessary if the legislative proposals had been endorsed by the Labour Advisory Board (LAB). The Legal Adviser said that according to the LegCo Briefs, although LAB had been consulted on the three Bills, the Education and Manpower Branch only stated that the Employment (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997 had LABs endorsement.
Mr Michael HO suggested that the matter be referred to the relevant Panel, having regard to the large number of Bills Committees on the waiting list. His view was supported by Mr LEE Kai-ming who said that a Bills Committee would only reopen discussion on issues which had been fully deliberated by LAB.
In response to the Chairman, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Deputy Chairman of the Panel on Manpower, agreed that the Panel would further discuss the Bills and report back to the House Committee.
(g) Long-Term Prison Sentences Review Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS146/96-97)
The Chairman advised that the Bill had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to make statutory provisions for the composition and functions of a proposed Long-Term Prison Sentences Review Board, in place of the existing administrative arrangements for the review of long-term prison sentences. The Panel on Security was consulted on 13 January 1997.
Mr James TO opined that a Bills Committee should be formed because this was a new piece of legislation which affected an individuals freedom and introduced new options for review of long-term prison sentences.
Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung said that while he shared Mr TOs view that this was an important piece of legislation, he was not in favour of setting up a Bills Committee because the Administration had advised that it would only proceed to draft the related subsidiary legislation after passage of the Bill. He opined that the subsidiary legislation should be passed as early as possible, preferably before 1 July 1997. He was particularly concerned about the position of the 23 young offenders convicted of murder who were detained at Her Majestys pleasure (HMP). He said that the sooner the Bill was passed, the earlier the Chief Justice could make recommendation on the punitive tariff period to be set for this group of prisoners.
Miss Margaret NG supported Mr TOs view that a Bills Committee should be set up to study the Bill in detail. As the legislative proposal on HMP cases was just one of a number of important proposals, she suggested that the Administration should be requested to deal with the 23 HMP cases as a separate matter.
The Chairman advised that the Administration had recommended that the Bills Committee, if formed, should be accorded priority and activated immediately. Members agreed that a Bill Committee should be set up. The following members agreed to join: Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee, Miss Margaret NG and Mr Lawrence YUM Sin-ling.
(h) Registered Designs Bill
(LegCo Paper No. LS141/96-97)
The Chairman said that the Bill had to be passed before 1 July 1997.
The Legal Adviser said that the Bill raised important issues. Members agreed that a Bills Committee should be formed to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join: Mrs Selina CHOW, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Miss Margaret NG.
VI Business for the LegCo sitting on 9 and 10 April 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(3) 740/96-97)
The Chairman said in accordance with established practice, only questions seeking written replies would be scheduled for the 2nd Budget sitting.
(b) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings
(i) Housing (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
(ii) Security and Guarding Services (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1997
(Members Bill to be introduced by Mr CHAN Wing-chan)
(iii) Employment (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1997
(Members Bill to be introduced by Mr LAU Chin-shek)
(iv) Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Bill 1997
(Members Bill to be introduced by Mr IP Kwok-him)
(v) Eastern Harbour Crossing (Eastern Harbour Crossing Road Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Bill 1997
(Members Bill to be introduced by Mr IP Kwok-him)
(vi) Tates Cairn Tunnel (Tates Cairn Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Bill 1997
(Members Bills to be introduced by Mr IP Kwok-him)
Members noted that the above Bills would be considered by the House Committee on 11 April 1997.
(c) Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading
Appropriation Bill 1997
The Chairman reminded Members that in accordance with Standing Order No. 27 (5), members would each have a maximum of 15 minutes to speak.
VII Reports of Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(a) Report of the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters
(i) Scrutiny of bills
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1493/96-97)
Members endorsed the recommendation of the Subcommittee that the new procedure should continue to be implemented but be limited to the top four Bills Committees on the waiting list.
Mr LEE Wing-tat enquired if the Bills Committee on Discovery Bay Tunnel Link Bill, which had commenced preparatory work, could proceed to meet deputations, pending activation of the Bills Committee.
In response to the Chairman, the Secretary General said that in so doing , the number of Bills Committees in action would exceed the agreed quota of 18. Members agreed that preparatory work for the top four Bills Committees on the waiting list should only involve the calling for membership, election of chairman and invitation of submissions from organizations.
(ii) Appointment of a deputy chairman for Select Committees, Public Accounts Committee and Committee on Members Interests
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1583/96/97)
Members endorsed the recommendations of the Subcommittee as set out in paragraph 9 of the paper.
The Chairman said that the Standing Orders and the LegCo Resolution of 25 May 1994 would be amended accordingly.
(b) Report of the Panel on Health Services - Medical Registration (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1997
The Chairman declared interest as the LegCo representative for the medical functional constituency. Members raised no objection to him continuing to chair to the meeting.
Mr Michael HO, Chairman of the Panel, reported that the Bill had been discussed at three separate meetings which were also attended by deputations. The Panel had discussed the major policy issues, but it had not been able to reach consensus on whether the Bill should be supported. At the meeting held that morning, the Administration had agreed to provide further clarifications on a number of issues, including the difficulties in implementing the proposal if the Bill was passed. The Medical Council of Hong Kong had also undertaken to provide information on the public consultation conducted prior to the enactment of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 and before the commencement of the Ordinance. Upon receipt of the information which should be available in one to two weeks time, the Clerk to the Panel would circulate it to Members for reference.
Mrs Selina CHOW supplemented that the Medical Council had decided that it would not accede to the request of the House Committee to defer the date for enrolling for the Licensing Examination, from 30 April 1997 to July 1997. In response to Mr Michael HO, she said that the Bill was so simple that when Panel members deliberated on the policy aspects of the Bill, they had in fact covered the relevant provisions of the Bill as well. Since the Panel had thoroughly considered the Bill, she opined that a Bills Committee was no longer necessary. She would give notice to resume the Second Reading debate on the Bill in April which should allow members time to consider the information to be provided by the Administration and the Medical Council. The Chairman said that he would not insist on setting up a Bills Committee, but he considered it necessary for members to consider the information.
Miss Margaret NG and Mr Bruce LIU said that it would duplicate members efforts if the same issues were to be deliberated again in a Bills Committee. Miss NG added that if members supported the merits of the proposal, the Administration would have to consider means to resolve practical problems during implementation. She considered the information to be provided by the Administration useful, but not vital to members consideration as to whether a Bills Committee was required.
Members agreed that the Bills Committee formed should be removed from the waiting list, and that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed, after members had been provided with the replies from the Administration and the Medical Council.
(c) Report of the Bills Committee on Employment (Amendment) (No 4) Bill 1996
Mr Michael HO said that the Bills Committee had agreed to consult the Labour Advisory Board on the Bill. In the meantime, the Bills Committee could release the slot for another Bills Committee on the waiting list.
Members noted that the Labour Advisory Board would meet on 21 April 1997 and agreed that priority would be given to the Bills Committee when it was reactivated.
(d) Report of the Bills Committee on Estate Agents Bill
On behalf of Mr Andrew CHENG, Chairman of the Bills Committee who was out of town, Mrs Selina CHOW reported that -
- The Bills Committee had held a total of 32 meetings to scrutinize the Bill and had met numerous organizations in the trade;
- As the Bill had far ready implications on both consumers and the 5,000 strong estate agents and 17,000 salespersons engaged in the trade, members of the Bills Committee had tried to strike a balance between protecting the consumers interests on the one hand and providing for the smooth operation of the trade on the other;
- The Administration had agreed to introduce a considerable number of Committee stage amendments to the Bill to address the concerns of the trade;
- As the Administration had advised that the Committee stage amendments would be ready in late April, the Second Reading debate on the Bill was expected to be resumed in May 1997; and
- Since the Bills Committee had completed scrutiny of the Bill, it had agreed to release its slot for another bill, pending a written report to the House Committee in early May.
(e) Report of the Panel on Financial Affairs - Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1107/96-97)
Members noted that the item had been dealt with under item IV above.
VIII Position reports on Bills Committees and Subcommittees, and Bills which must be passed before 1 July 1997
(LegCo Papers Nos. CB(2) 1569 & 1505/96-97)
Members noted the reports.
The Chairman advised that apart from the two slots released by the Bills Committees on the Employment (Amendment) (No 4) Bill 1996 and Estate Agents Bill (item VII(c) & (d) above), the Bills Committee on Freight Containers (Safety) Bill had also concluded its work and agreed to release the slot pending written report to the House Committee.
Members endorsed the revised priority on Government Bills proposed by the Director of Administration (tabled and in Appendix II). The Chairman advised that the three vacant slots would be allocated to the Bills Committee on the following Bills: Justices of the Peace Bill; Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997; and Long-Term Prison Sentences Review Bill.
IX Any Other Business
Annual Report on Hong Kong 1996 to Parliament
Miss Emily LAU referred members to the Annual Report on Hong Kong 1996 to Parliament (the Report). As this was the last report before the handover, she proposed that a motion debate on the Report should be held in the Council as soon as practicable. The Chairman invited members view on the proposal.
Members supported the proposal and agreed to the following-
- a motion for the purpose of debating the Report should be moved by the Chairman on behalf of the Members at the sitting on 23 April 1997;
- one of the two debating slots at the sitting on 23 April 1997 should be allocated to the motion;
- the motion should have precedence over the other motion at the sitting;
- the wording of the motion should be as neutral as possible, in order that Members could freely express their views during the debate;
- the normal speaking time for a motion debate should apply, i.e. mover of the motion would be given 15 minutes and other speakers, seven minutes each; and
- the Chairman would not be regarded as having sponsored a motion debate for the purpose of the queuing system.
In response to Mr Bruce LIU, Miss Margaret NG said that the subject of his motion concerning British colonial rule over Hong Kong for the last 150 years was different from the motion on the Report to be moved by the Chairman which only covered the year 1996.
The meeting ended at 5:37 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
26 March 1997
Last Updated on 16 August 1999