Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2) 782
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/BC/4/97

Bills Committee on Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 1997

Meeting on 9 December 1997 at 5:00 pm in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP (Chairman)
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan

Members absent :

Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon CHAN Kam-lam

Clerk in attendance:

Ms Doris CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)4

Staff in attendance :

Ms Bernice WONG
Assistant Legal Adviser 1

Mr Stanley MA

Senior Assistant Secretary (2)7

I. Discussion on the Administration’s paper and Committee stage amendments
(PLC Paper No.CB(2)708(01))

In its paper in response to members’ concerns raised at the previous meeting, the Administration confirmed that they would not move Committee stage amendments (CSAs) to raise the maximum degree of permanent incapacity correlating to total deafness from 60% to 100% and to reduce the minimum service requirement of the four extremely noisy occupations from 10 to five years. It also highlighted that the additional compensation liability arising from these two amendments, if adopted, would deplete the Occupational Deafness Compensation Fund (the Fund) at the end of the first year and the fourth year respectively.

2. Having regard to the financial strength of the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board and the range of percentages adopted by a number of other countries (from 35% to 75%), members agreed that the Committee would not propose a CSA to adjust upward the percentage point of permanent incapacity awarded for total deafness (both ears having a hearing loss of 90 dB and above) from 60% to 100%. Dr LEONG Che-hung said he was still considering moving a CSA on this issue.

3. Regarding the relaxation of claimant’s service requirement from 10 to five years in the four extremely noisy occupations, members had reservations about the Administration’s estimate that adopting this enhancement proposal would deplete the Fund at the end of the fourth year. Except Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun who indicated that she needed more time to examine the proposal, members agreed that the Bills Committee would move a CSA to relax the service requirement in the four very noisy occupations from 10 to five years. Mr LEE Kai-ming added that as legislation on protection of employee’s hearing ability would come into operation in 1998, fewer employees would suffer from occupational deafness in the future and it appeared reasonable and financially feasible to shorten the service year requirement in these four very noisy occupations for compensation purpose.

4. Referring to the transitional arrangement under clause 16 of the Bill, Assistant Legal Adviser 1 (ALA1) inquired whether the proposed CSA should have retrospective effect. After discussion, members agreed that it should not have retrospective effect.

5. Members agreed that the Bills Committee would report its deliberations to the House Committee at its meeting on 19 December 1997. The clerk would prepare the report of the Committee as soon as possible.

(*Post meeting note : As the Administration had informed that it would not give notice to resume the Second Reading debate on the Bill until later next month and since the Chairman would be away from Hong Kong on 19 December 1997, the Bills Committee’s report would be made to the House Committee on 2 January 1998 instead.)

6. The meeting ended at 5:20 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
24 December 1997 .