LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2635/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/PL/IP, CB2/PL/SE

LegCo Panel on Information Policy
and LegCo Panel on Security

Minutes of Joint Meeting
held on Friday, 9 May 1997 at 12:15 pm
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

LegCo Panel on Information Policy
*Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing (Chairman)
*Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
*Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee

LegCo Panel on Security
Hon Howard YOUNG
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin

Members Absent :

LegCo Panel on Information Policy
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
*Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

LegCo Panel on Security
Hon James TO Kun-sun (Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon LI Wah-ming
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon Margaret NG
Hon TSANG Kin-shing

(* also a member of LegCo Panel on Security)

Public Officers Attending :

Item III
Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security E
Miss Vega WONG
Assistant Secretary for Security E2

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Ms Christine LIU
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 8

I. Election of Chairman

Miss Emily LAU was elected Chairman of the joint meeting.

II. Confirmation of minutes of meeting on 11 April 1997 and matters arising

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2116/96-97)

The minutes of meeting held on 11 April 1997 were confirmed.

III. Follow-up on the Administration’s consultation paper on the Interception of Communications Bill

(Paper No. CB(2)2197/96-97 (01))

Members expressed concern about the delay in the introduction of the blue Bill. Representatives of the Administration said that the Government fully acknowledged that regulation of the interception of communications was an area of public concern. The reasons why the Bill could not yet be introduced were -

  1. given the complexities of the subject matter and its wide-ranging implications especially on the power of the Police to combat crimes, they needed more time to examine the issues involved to ensure that law enforcement capabilities would not be jeopardized;
  2. the submissions they received in the consultation exercise had raised significant technical and policy issues which would need further study by their legal experts and law enforcement agencies; and
  3. informal discussions with various LegCo Members had indicated that there would unlikely be sufficient support for the Bill, if introduced.

In the light of the reasons stated above, Representatives of the Administration said that it would be irresponsible for the Administration to introduce a Bill into LegCo without thoroughly considering how best to address the concerns raised by the public. It would also be equally irresponsible to introduce a Bill into LegCo if there was no realistic chance of enactment.

On the question of the timetable for the introduction of the Bill, Representatives of the Administration said that in other countries, enactment of similar legislation would normally take a long time. In the present case, the Administration published the White Bill within a short period after the release of the Law Reform Commission report. Nevertheless, since the Bill had far-reaching implications, they needed to study it carefully to ensure that it would not hamper the Police ability to combat crimes.

Members expressed concern that if the Bill was not introduced, Hong Kong might contravene the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Members also commented that the Administration should not worry about LegCo members’ support to the Bill. They opined that if any LegCo members vetoed the Bill, they would have to explain to the public themselves. The Administration replied that when introducing a bill, a responsible government was duty-bound to seek the support of members.

On behalf of the Liberal Party, Mr Howard YOUNG made the following points -

  1. From a pragmatic point of view, the security of Hong Kong was a major concern of the community. He hoped that the Government would continue to maintain the security of Hong Kong;
  2. As to cases which might have contravened the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, he considered that there were other channels to remedy the predicament such as by bringing them to the court for judgement; and
  3. There were only 50 odd days before the change of sovereignty of Hong Kong. He considered that there were other more pressing issues than this Bill, such as the issue on the right of abode. The Administration could introduce the Bill after 1 July 1997 to allow ample time for the study of this Bill.

In response, the Administration said that they were working hard on the Bill and wished to have it enacted as soon as possible.

Members then asked the Administration to inform them of the public comments received during the consultation period and the result of the consultation exercise before 30 June 1997, if possible.

The meeting ended at 12:30 pm.

LegCo Secretariat
11 June 1997

Last Updated on 20 August 1998