Revised version
OP 96/97-15(1)
(Issued at 11:00 am on 13.1.97)

The Legislative Council
Order Paper
Wednesday 15 January 1997 at 2:30 pm



I. Questions

1. Miss Christine LOH to ask :

Will the Administration inform this Council whether the recent proposal of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to use a sum of HK$1 billion from the Exchange Fund for the purpose of establishing a Mortgage Corporation is in breach of section 3(1A) and 3(1B) of the Exchange Fund Ordinance; if not, whether there are any restrictions on the uses to which the Exchange Fund may be put?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

2. Mrs Elizabeth WONG to ask :

Will the Government inform this Council whether the children of elderly persons are required to declare that they cannot or will not support their parents before these elderly persons can receive assistance under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme; if so, what the reasons are?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

3. Mr Fred LI to ask : (Translation)

It is reported that the arrangement made by the Government in providing a new office for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Chief Executive-designate at Edinburgh Tower in the Landmark has been widely criticised, and the Chief Executive-designate has indicated openly that the location of the office premises picked by the Government is not suitable. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the criteria adopted in selecting the office premises for the Chief Executive-designate;
  2. whether it has consulted the Chief Executive-designate before deciding on the location of the office premises mentioned above; if not, why not;
  3. whether it has signed the lease for renting the above office premises; if so, what the monthly rent is; and
  4. of the amount of public funds (including payment of rent, deposit and other expenses) which will be wasted in the above office site selection exercise, as the Chief Executive-designate has not accepted the office premises in question?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Treasury

4. Mr Howard YOUNG to ask :

Will the Government inform this Council whether there has been any marked increase in traffic accidents at the road junctions and pedestrian crossings at the Sogo Department Store and Times Square in Causeway Bay since the operation of Luminescent Electronic Display (LED) advertising signs at such locations?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Transport

5. Mr CHOY Kan-pui to ask : (Translation)

Regarding greening the territory's environment, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether the criteria and policies adopted by the Government in greening the environment in the urban areas are the same as those in the New Territories; and
  2. which government departments are responsible for planting trees on roadsides and road dividers and what the specific responsibilities of the departments concerned are; and whether the Government adopts the same criteria and policies in carrying out such tree planting work in both the urban areas and the New Territories; if not, why not?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

6. Mr CHAN Wing-chan to ask : (Translation)

As the measures proposed by the Task Force on Land Supply and Property Prices in 1994 have been implemented for two years, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether it has reviewed the effectiveness of such measures; if so, what the results are; if not, why not; and
  2. of the reasons for the recent spiralling of private housing prices, and the measures in place to tackle the problem?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

* 7. Mr Andrew CHENG to ask : (Translation)

Regarding the operation of insurance companies, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. how the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (the Office) regulates the sale of the assets and liabilities of one insurance company to another or the merger of one insurance company with another;
  2. of the protection provided for policy holders under the circumstances described in (a) above; whether it is obligatory for the insurance company concerned to obtain the consent of its policy holders prior to transferring their policies to another company, and whether the policy holders can recover the premiums paid if they object to such a transfer; and
  3. the total number and categories of complaints concerning the operation of insurance companies received by the Office over the past three years?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

* 8. Mr Eric LI to ask :

Will the Government inform this Council whether it is aware of the specific actions taken by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK) and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) since January 1995 to improve corporate governance with a view to preventing corporate fraud and mismanagement; if so, does the Government know of the following:

  1. the total provisions set aside by SEHK and SFC respectively for the above purpose in the last two years;
  2. the results of any evaluations conducted by SEHK or SFC on the impact of their preventive actions; and
  3. the respective number of cases involving corporate fraud and mismanagement reported to SEHK and SFC monthly since January 1995?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

* 9. Dr David LI to ask :

In the policy statement on "Urban Renewal in Hong Kong" issued by the Administration in June 1996, it was stated that in ten years' time, more than 40 per cent of the private housing stock in the urban area will be over 30 years old, as compared with the present figure of 20 per cent. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it plans to commit more resources to speed up the urban redevelopment programme; if so, what the details are?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

*10. Dr HUANG Chen-ya to ask : (Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the number of candidates who took the licentiate examination for non-Commonwealth trained medical practitioners in 1996, together with a breakdown of the examination results by different ranges of marks in the written and oral examinations;
  2. of the criteria adopted by the Medical Council of Hong Kong (the Medical Council) in marking and how the pass mark of the licentiate examination is determined; and
  3. whether, in notifying the candidates of the examination results, the Medical Council provides them with the marks they have obtained in different parts of the licentiate examination; if not, why not and whether the Medical Council will consider enhancing the transparency of the licentiate examination by providing the above-mentioned marks to candidates?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

*11. Dr LAW Cheung-kwok to ask : (Translation)

Is the Government aware of:

  1. the respective language training courses organised by each of the universities in the territory for students with lower Chinese Language and English Language standards, so as to improve their language proficiency; and
  2. the mechanism in place in each university to assess the proficiency in the Chinese and English languages of each undergraduate on a periodic basis?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Education and Manpower

*12. Mr WONG Wai-yin to ask : (Translation)

At the LegCo sitting on 16 October 1996, the Secretary for Housing stated that the occurrence of incidents of injuries caused by falling objects in public housing estates was more obvious in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun. In this connection, does the Government know:

  1. of the five districts in which the problem of incidents of injuries caused by falling objects was most serious in the last three years, together with the number of such incidents in each district; and
  2. of public housing estates in the districts mentioned in the answer to (a) above which are not provided with covered walkways; and what measures have been put in place by the authority concerned to ensure the safety of residents living in these estates?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Housing

*13. Miss Emily LAU to ask :

It is learnt that the Insider Dealing Tribunal has recently ordered a chairman of a company identified as an insider dealer not to be a director of a listed company for one year, but the ban will not take effect until December 1997. The Insider Dealing Tribunal has also ordered him to pay a fine of $1.46 million and imposed an added penalty of $1.7 million. It is also learnt that the person concerned has resigned from the chairmanship of the company with effect from 1 December last year and has appointed his wife to replace him as the company's chairman, but he would continue to render his expertise and experience to the company. In this connection, will the Administration inform this Council of the measures which will be taken by the authorities concerned to safeguard the interests of investors should similar incidents occur in the future?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

*14. Mr CHIM Pui-chung to ask : (Translation)

Regarding the trading of warrants and covered warrants, does the Government know:

  1. given that each listed company may have, in addition to its ordinary shares, a number of warrants and covered warrants which can be traded in the market, whether the authorities concerned have examined if such trading will affect the development of the market; if so, what the details are;
  2. whether the authorities concerned have considered introducing legislation or issuing guidelines to regulate such trading; and
  3. whether the authorities concerned have assessed the impact of these products on the levy of stamp duty on securities?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

*15. Miss Christine LOH to ask :

At present, the linked-rate system linking the exchange rate of the Hong Kong dollar to the United States dollar is an administrative practice and is not enshrined in law. As Article 111 of the Basic Law stipulates that the issue of Hong Kong currency must be backed by a 100 per cent reserve fund and that the system regarding the issue of Hong Kong currency and the reserve fund system shall be prescribed by law, will the Administration inform this Council whether it plans to introduce legislation establishing the linked exchange rate system on a firm legal basis before 30 June 1997; if not, why not?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

*16. Mr Fred LI to ask : (Translation)

It is reported that the number of recipients of unemployment assistance at the end of last year has risen by nearly 90 percent, compared to those at the end of the previous year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the reasons for the substantial rise in the number of recipients of unemployment assistance whereas the unemployment rate last year, as released by the Census and Statistics Department, showed a continuous decrease; and
  2. whether the Government has any plan to grant additional allowances (such as allowances for transport expenses and monthly fee for pager service) to recipients of unemployment assistance, to enable them to meet the necessary expenses while seeking employment, and to encourage them to actively look for jobs; if so, when such a plan will be implemented; if not, why not?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

*17. Dr HUANG Chen-ya to ask : (Translation)

As the Utilisation Reviews conducted by the Hospital Authority have assisted in containing expenditure on medical expenses and reducing wastage, does the Government know:

  1. whether the Hospital Authority has conducted any Utilisation Review on the number of admissions, length of hospitalisation, diagnostic and surgical procedures as well as use of drugs in the various specialist services; if not, why not; and
  2. if the answer to (a) is in the affirmative, of the items in each specialist service which have been identified as inappropriately utilised, their utilisation rates, the reasons for inappropriate utilisation, and the proportion of the wasted resources to the total expenditure in each specialist service?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

*18. Mr CHIM Pui-chung to ask : (Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. given that the Government favours the adoption of the user-pay policy, of the reasons for requiring investors to bear the transaction levies in addition to brokerage and to pay stamp duties in trading stocks;
  2. whether the authorities concerned will consider abolishing the transaction levies imposed on investors; if not, why not; and
  3. whether the authorities concerned have considered if the above multiple-tax and multiple-fee policy will affect the territory's status as an international financial centre?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Financial Services

*19. Miss Emily LAU to ask : (Translation)

It is learnt that the medical expenses amounting to HK$1 million incurred by a directorate officer of the Architectural Services Department, who went to the United States several months ago for treatment of disorders of cardiac blood vessels, were paid for by the Government. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

  1. it is aware of the above case; if so, of the basis on which the authorities concerned granted approval for the expenses to be paid by the Government; and what monitoring measures are in place to prevent the abuse of the arrangement of permitting civil servants to receive medical treatment in a foreign country;
  2. there is an upper limit on the amount of payment by the Government in respect of the medical expenses incurred by a civil servant who is permitted to receive medical treatment in a foreign country; and
  3. all civil servants are eligible to apply for receiving medical treatment in a foreign country?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for the Civil Service

*20. Mr CHENG Yiu-tong to ask : (Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of the following in the past three years:

  1. the respective proportions of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) cases in the unemployed and low-income categories to the total number of CSSA cases;
  2. the average number of unemployed persons per household of the CSSA recipients in the unemployed category, together with a breakdown of the trades in which they were formerly engaged and the types of jobs in which they were employed;
  3. the number of CSSA recipients in the unemployed category who were unemployed for a total period of-
    1. less than six months,
    2. six months to less than one year,
    3. one to less than two years,
    4. two to less than four years, and
    5. four years or above,

    and the total number of recipients in the above groups who were aged between 20 and 50 and possessing academic qualifications above secondary three level; and

  4. the average number of working persons per household of the CSSA recipients in the low-income category, together with a breakdown of their respective occupations and positions held?

Public Officer to reply : Secretary for Health and Welfare

* For written reply.

II. Government Bills

First Reading

1. Human Reproductive Technology Bill

2. Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1997

Second Reading

Debates to be adjourned

1. Human Reproductive Technology Bill

:

Secretary for Health and Welfare

2. Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1997

:

Secretary for Financial Services

III. Members' Motions

1. Legislation on fair trade and setting up of the Competition Authority

Mr Fred LI : (Translation)

That, as the Consumer Council has, in its report on the overall review and assessment of the competition environment in Hong Kong, recommended, among others, that Hong Kong should introduce a fair competition policy, enact fair competition legislation and establish a Competition Authority, so as to promote fair competition for the benefit of the industrial and commercial sectors and consumers, and strengthen Hong Kong's competitiveness on the international level, this Council urges the Government to accept the principles of formulating a fair competition policy, enacting fair competition legislation and establishing the Competition Authority put forward by the Consumer Council, and to listen to the views of this Council and the public, so as to decide on the specific details and contents for implementing such principles.

Amendment to Mr Fred LI's motion

Mr James TIEN : (Translation)

To delete "so as to promote fair competition for the benefit of the industrial and commercial sectors and consumers, and strengthen Hong Kong's competitiveness on the international level,"; to add ", while supporting the principle of promoting fair competition," after "this Council"; and to delete "to accept the principles of formulating a fair competition policy, enacting fair competition legislation and establishing the Competition Authority put forward by the Consumer Council, and to listen to the views of this Council and the public, so as to decide on the specific details and contents for implementing such principles" and substitute with "to conduct an in-depth study on the aforesaid report and listen to the views of this Council and the public, in order to consider whether or not to formulate the relevant policies for promoting Hong Kong's free market operation and safeguarding Hong Kong's competitiveness in the international area".

Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Trade and Industry

2. Anti-smoking

Dr C H LEONG :

That, in order to protect Hong Kong citizens, and in particular teenagers, against the health hazards resulting from direct and second-hand smoking, this Council supports a total ban on direct and indirect tobacco advertising and on tobacco sponsorship for social, cultural and sports events, and supports legislating to designate all indoor public places as smoke free areas.

Amendment to Dr C H LEONG's motion

Mr MOK Ying-fan :

To delete "and indirect"; to delete "and on tobacco sponsorship for social, cultural and sports events, and supports legislating to designate" and substitute with "; restricting smoking in"; and to delete "as smoke free areas" and substitute with "to designated smoking areas; and the expeditious increase of resources for strengthening anti-smoking education".

Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Health and Welfare

IV. Members' Bills

Second Reading

Debates to be resumed

1. Housing (Amendment) Bill 1996

:

Mr LEE Wing-tat

Public Officer to attend

:

Secretary for Housing

2. Housing (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 1996

:

Mr Bruce LIU

Public Officer to attend

:

Secretary for Housing

Committee Stage and Third Reading

1. Housing (Amendment) Bill 1996

:

Mr LEE Wing-tat

Public Officer to attend

:

Secretary for Housing

2. Housing (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 1996

:

Mr Bruce LIU

Public Officer to attend

:

Secretary for Housing


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