Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. ESC 38
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB1/F/3/2

Establishment Subcommittee of the
Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on
Wednesday, 19 November 1997, at 10:45 am

Members present:

Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong (Chairman)
Hon NG Leung-sing (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon Henry WU
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting

Members absent :

Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Public officers attending :

Mrs Carrie LAM, JP
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury

Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service

Ms Elsie LEUNG, JP
Secretary for Justice

Administrator, Department of Justice

Mr James O " NEIL
Principal Government Counsel

Law Officer

Mr Bryan P K CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Financial Services

Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services

Mr Albert LAM
Deputy Director of Civil Aviation

Assistant Director of Civil Aviation

Assistant Director of Health

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5

Staff in attendance :

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Mr Kenneth KWOK
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8

EC(97-98)33 Proposed creation of two permanent posts of one Administrative Officer Staff Grade A (D6) and one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Department of Justice and retitling of the existing rank of Administrator, Department of Justice to Deputy Director (Administration), Department of Justice to strengthen the department's management and enhance its capability to undertake new initiatives

The Chairman advised that the proposal had been discussed at the meeting of the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services on 13 November 1997, and that additional information provided by the Secretary for Justice (SJ) had been circulated to members.

2.Members noted from the organisation structure of the Department of Justice that an existing post ranked at D3 level of Administrator, Department of Justice, was already assisting SJ in the administration of the Department. They enquired about the need for the two additional posts of Director of Administration and Development at D6 and Assistant Director (Development) at D2 levels.

3.In response, SJ advised that there was a need for the Department of Justice to strengthen administrative support at the appropriate level. The post of SJ was a key one in maintaining the rule of law, and professional support was rendered by Law Officers heading the five Legal Divisions. On account of increases in workload in these Divisions, there was a need for an officer to relieve SJ and the Law Officers of the administrative responsibilities in order that they could concentrate on the professional aspects. When asked to elaborate on the increases in workload, SJ explained that these included for example outstanding issues concerning the adaptation of laws, new horizons brought about by sophisticated computer crimes, significant increases in advice sought by Government departments on interpretation of the Basic Law and on the contents of tenders and contracts on major infrastructural projects, cases involving Basic Law or Bill of Rights issues, matters concerning international covenants and agreements and mutual legal assistance. The increases in workload had been recognised for some time, but proposals for additional support were withheld on account of the change in sovereignty.

4.SJ added that the Director would also be responsible for taking up new roles including for example representing the Department at committee meetings of the Provisional Legislative Council, liaison with the media and the community to explain and undertake consultation on legal issues, staff development, and strengthening departmental administration on which criticisms had previously been levied by legislators. The Administrator was fully occupied with his present duties and had no spare capacity for undertaking these tasks.

5.As regards the proposed post of Assistant Director (Development), SJ advised that this was required to provide support services to the Director and to co-ordinate and take forward new initiatives such as the implementation of a bilingual legal system.

6.Referring to the increases in workload, a member said that these pointed to the requirement for professional rather than administrator's input. He questioned the appropriateness for the Director post to be pitched at D6 level. The member also asked for statistics on the increase in the Department's establishment since creation of the Administrator's post (previously entitled Chambers Manager) and the anticipated increase in the future, and for comparisons with the ranking of administrator's posts in other Government departments.

7.On the ranking of the Director's post, SJ explained that the officer would need to interface with the Law Officers whose posts were ranked at D6 level and with other bureaux and departments. The existing post of Administrator would not be appropriate for assuming such a co-ordinating role, and creation of the Director post at D6 level had accordingly been proposed. On comparisons with practices in other departments, SJ advised that the post of Judiciary Administrator in Judiciary was ranked at D8 level, while the Administrator post underpinning the Director of Legal Aid (D6) was ranked at D3 level. She undertook to provide the requested statistics in writing. The Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service said in reply to the member that the post of Police Civil Secretary was ranked at D4 level. He stressed, however, that when examining such staffing proposals, Civil Service Bureau had regard not only to comparisons within the service but also to the actual need for the posts. On this occasion, the Bureau was satisfied that a new situation had created the need for additional support at the proposed level. Admin

8.The item was voted on and endorsed. Mr Andrew WONG objected.

EC(97-98)36Proposed creation of three supernumerary posts of one Principal Government Counsel (DL3) and two Deputy Principal Government Counsel (DL2) for the period from 3 January 1998 to 31 March 2001 in the Department of Justice and increase of the permanent establishment ceiling of the Department from $369,675,000 by $3,758,940 to $373,433,940 in 1997-98 in order to set up a team to deal with requirements for the preparation of legislation and the provision of legal advice for the 1998 and 2000 Legislative Council elections and the elections for district organisations in 1999

9.A member pointed out that the three proposed supernumerary posts had in fact been created under delegated authority as from 3 July 1997. Since then the Department of Justice had been able to redeploy its existing staff to undertake the additional responsibilities. He therefore questioned if the additional workload could be absorbed by the existing establishment. The Principal Government Counsel (PGC) said in reply that while temporary deployment of staff to undertake short-term tasks could be arranged by way of acting appointments, long periods of redeployment such as that of over three years for the current proposal would cause undue disruption and affect the work of divisions concerned. In addition to the provision of legal advice and assistance to the Electoral Affairs Commission in relation to the preparation of subsidiary legislation and the actual conduct of the elections, the proposed Election Team would also be responsible for dealing with post-election reviews, complaints and appeals, as well as follow-up amendments to legislation. As such and notwithstanding the scheduling of the Legislative Council election in 2000, the posts would be required up to March 2001. A review would be conducted nearer the time to assess if there was a further need for these posts.

10.As regards the possibility of making use of the posts and experience of staff responsible for similar duties in the Department in the 1995 Legislative Council elections, PGC said that this would not be possible as the supernumerary posts created then had lapsed and that some of the officers had left the service.

11.The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(97-98)37Proposed creation of a supernumerary post of Deputy Principal Government Counsel (DL2) for a period of three years in the Department of Justice and increase of the permanent establishment ceiling of the Department from $369,675,000 by $1,738,440 to $371,413,440 in 1997-98 in order to provide the necessary assistance to the Financial Services Bureau to enable it to cope with the increase in workload in relation to insider dealing cases

12.The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(97-98)34Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Operations Officer (D1) in the Civil Aviation Department to oversee the work related to aviation security and air traffic safety in the Airport Standards Division

13.Members noted that an existing post of Chief Operations Officer (COO) was already providing assistance to the Assistant Director (Airport Standards), and enquired about the division of responsibilities between the existing and the proposed posts of COO. The Assistant Director of Civil Aviation (AD/CA) said in reply that the focus of the existing post was in airport safety, while the emphasis of the proposed post would be on aviation security and air traffic safety. Security requirements at the new airport would be far more complex owing to the large size and scale of operation. The Deputy Director of Civil Aviation advised in response to a member that the Civil Aviation Department would assume a regulatory role in the operation of the new airport, as opposed to a management role as in the case of the Kai Tak Airport.

14.Given that the number of professional staff in the Aviation Security Sub-section of the Airport Standards Division had just been increased from two to six in as recently as October 1997, a member raised concern on the need to create yet another D1 post for the Division within such a short period. AD/CA clarified that the proposed post was required to cope with the increased workload as a result of new working requirements, and to provide necessary input and guidance at directorate level. The proposed post of COO would also relieve the pressure on the part of Assistant Director (Airport Standards) due to increase in workload.

15.The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(97-98)35Proposed revision of the salary scale of the X-ray Assistant grade with retrospective effect from 1 November 1996 and retitling of the grade as " Radiographic Technician "

16.As the proposal entailed, inter alia, the upgrading of entry qualifications of the X-ray Assistant grade, members expressed concern on the effect of the new arrangements on serving officers. The Assistant Director of Health (AD/H) said that of the 32 staff in the grade, 25 had acquired the necessary qualifications and were continuing their service; two could not pass the requisite examination and had joined other grades in the civil service; the remaining five who had not applied for registration had left the grade through retirement or transfer to other grades. Revision of the pay scale of the grade with retrospective effect from 1 November 1996 had been recommended to tie in with the enactment of the Radiographers (Registration and Disciplinary Procedure) Regulation made under the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance on 1 November 1996. In accordance with the Regulation, only persons registered with the Radiographers Board were permitted to practise radiography.

17.Concerning staff in the X-ray Assistant grade in the Hospital Authority, AD/H said she understood that the number of such staff who were not registered was few and there should be no difficulties in deploying them to other duties.

18.The item was voted on and endorsed.

19.The meeting was adjourned at 11:35 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
9 December 1997