on 28 October 1996
LegCo Panel on Security
Auxiliary Forces Pensions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1996
This paper informs Members of the purpose and the main provisions of the Auxiliary Forces Pensions (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1996.
2. The auxiliary forces currently operating in Hong Kong comprise the following :
- the Auxiliary Medical Services (AMS) provide supplementary resources to augment regular medical and health services;
- the Civil Aid Services (CAS) support government departments in tackling emergency situations such as tropical cyclones, flooding etc;
- the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force (RHKAPF) provide manpower support to the regular police in watch and ward duties on a daily basis; and also form a reserve in internal security situations; and
- the Government Flying Service (Auxiliary Section) (GFS(A)) provide manpower support to the regular Government Flying Service in providing flying services in support of government departments as well as round-the-clock emergency air ambulance and search and rescue services.
The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (the Volunteers) (RHKR(V)) disbanded its service in September 1995.
Payment of pensions and gratuities to members of the auxiliary forces
3. Unlike members of the civil service, members of the auxiliary forces are not eligible for pension emoluments upon normal retirement. However, if a member of the auxiliary forces is permanently injured or killed in connection with his duties, a pension and/or gratuity will be given to that member or his dependants. The payment of pensions and gratuities to members of the auxiliary forces is provided for in the Auxiliary Forces Pay and Allowances Ordinance (Chapter 254). There are also separate provisions under the respective Ordinances of individual auxiliary services, namely, the Essential Services Corps Ordinance (Chapter 197) in the case of AMS and CAS, the Royal Hong Kong Auxiliary Police Force Ordinance (Chapter 233) in the case of RHKAPF, the Government Flying Service Ordinance (Chapter 322) in the case of GFS (A), and the Royal Hong Kong Regiment Ordinance (Chapter 199) in the case of RHKR(V).
Review of existing system
4. Following a case of the death of a female member of the RHKAPF who was killed on duty, it was revealed that under the RHKAPF (Pensions) Regulations, only the widow and child/children of a deceased member are eligible for pension benefits. Pension benefits could not therefore be given to that members husband and children. They were only awarded compensation in accordance with the Employees Compensation Ordinance. In the light of this a general review was undertaken on the provisions governing the payment of pensions and gratuities to members of the different auxiliary services. We have thus identified other areas for improvement :
- there are differences in the calculation and payment of pensions and gratuities to members of different auxiliary services;
- pension increases are available to members of the AMS, CAS and RHKR(V), but not available to other auxiliary services;
- injury pensions payable to members of the auxiliary forces, other than RHKR(V), are taxable. In accordance with the Exemption from Salaries Tax Order made under Section 87 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Chapter 112) injury pensions payable to civil servants (called "disability pension") are exempt from salaries tax. It is therefore fair to extend the tax exemption to injury pensions payable to members of the auxiliary forces;
- Existing legislation does not provide for the necessary medical treatment for a member of the auxiliary forces who has retired because of an injury sustained in the course of his/her duty. It is inequitable for the member to have to pay for such medical treatment in respect of the injury;
- members of AMS, CAS and RHKAPF, who are permanently injured or killed while on-duty, can opt for either pension benefits under their respective Ordinances or compensation under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Chapter 282). The latter option is not available to members of RHKR(V) while members of GFS(A) could only be compensated under this provision; and
- There are provisions under both the Pensions Ordinance (Chapter 89) and the Pension Benefits Ordinance (Chapter 99) for the recovery by the Government of an additional pension granted to a member of the civil service in respect of an injury while on duty, or of a dependant pension granted in respect of an officer killed on duty, where the injury was caused in circumstances creating a legal liability in some person other than the Government. There is no similar provision in the various Ordinances covering members of the auxiliary forces.
5. In the light of the review, we consider there is a need to -
- streamline, standardize, and modernize the system of award of pensions and gratuities to members of the different auxiliary services;
- provide a common basis and benchmark for the calculation and payment of pensions and gratuities to members of the different auxiliary services; and
- bring the system of calculation and payment of pension and gratuities for members of the auxiliary services, into line with that for the civil service.
6. In order to ensure fairness and uniformity for all the auxiliary forces, we propose to introduce a unified scheme of calculation and payment of pensions and gratuities under the Auxiliary Forces Pay and Allowances Ordinance (Chapter 254). Most of the provisions of the proposed unified scheme will be modelled on similar provisions in the Pensions Ordinance (Chapter 89) and the Pension Benefits Ordinance (Chapter 99); and the pension benefits for members of the auxiliary services will be no better than those for members of the civil service.
7. The main provisions of the proposed unified scheme are set out in the Annex.
8. The auxiliary forces have been consulted and raised no adverse comment on the above proposal. Existing pensions and gratuities awarded will not be affected by the proposed legislation.
Main provisions for the proposed unified scheme
- an injury pension will be granted to a member who is permanently injured while on duty and his termination of service to the auxiliary service is thereby necessitated. Such injury pension is exempt from salaries tax. The injury pension is to be calculated at a proportion of the members annual pay at the date of his injury which is in direct proportion to the percentage of permanent impairment to his capacity. The percentage of permanent impairment is to be determined by a medical board;
- a death gratuity will be granted to a member who dies as a result of any injury sustained in the discharge of his duty. The death gratuity will be an amount which is equal to his annual pay at the date of his death;
- in addition to a death gratuity, a dependant pension will be paid to the spouse (covering both widow and widower) and dependants of a member who dies as a result of any injury sustained in the discharge of his duty;
- increases to pensions will be paid in line with pension increases applicable to members of the civil service;
- free medical treatment in respect of injuries sustained in the course of duty will be provided to a member who has retired because of that injury;
- the Government will be empowered to recover commuted amount of the pension benefits paid to a member from a third person if that person is found to be liable for the members injury or death; and
- members may opt for either pension benefits under the respective Ordinance covering their service, or compensation under the Employees Compensation Ordinance, the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance, or the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance as appropriate.
Last Updated on 21 August 1998