Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. CB(2) 817
Ref : PLC/HC/4
House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council
Minutes of the meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber at 2:30 pm on Friday, 2 January 1998
Members present :
Hon IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
Hon YUEN Mo
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Members absent :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LO Suk-ching
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
Staff in attendance :
- Mr Ricky C C FUNG, JP
- Secretary General
- Mr Jimmy MA
- Legal Adviser
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Senior Assistant Legal Adviser (Acting)
- Mr Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mrs Anna LO Chief
- Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Ms Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Mrs Vivian KAM
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5
- Mr LAW Wing-lok
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)5
- Mrs Betty LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (3)1
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
- Ms Sharon CHUNG
- Senior Public Information Officer 2
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 29th meeting held on 19 December 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 774)
The minutes were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration
Provision of information to PLC Members
2 The Deputy Chairman said that the Chairman, Dr LEONG Che-hung, had informed CS that reporters had learnt about the consultation paper on the proposed guidelines on election-related activities in respect of the 1998 Legislative Council election as well as details of the election-related subsidiary legislation (one Regulation and two Orders) gazetted on 19 December 1997 ahead of Members. CS had undertaken to alert Bureau Secretaries to the need for releasing information to Members at the same time as the information was released to the press, if not earlier.
III. Legal Service Divisions report on subsidiary legislation to be tabled in Council on 7 January 1998 (gazetted on 19 and 24 December 1997)
(PLC Papers Nos. LS 67 & 71)
PLC Paper No. LS 67
3 Referring to the paper which covered the nine items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 19 December 1997, the Legal Adviser said that the three items of election-related subsidiary legislation would be studied by the subcommittee on subsidiary legislation relating to Legislative Council election.
4 Members raised no queries on the remaining six items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
PLC Paper No. LS 71
5 The Legal Adviser said that the paper set out in detail the content of the 13 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 24 December 1997. He added that the Equal Opportunities Commission had provided an initial reply to certain queries raised by the Legal Service Division regarding the Chinese translation of the two sets of Amendment Rules made under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance. A further report would be made at the next meeting should there be any problem.
6 Members raised no queries on the subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
7 The Deputy Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation detailed in PLC Papers Nos. LS 67 and 71 at the Council meeting on 21 January 1998 was 14 January 1998.
IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 7 January 1998
Resolution under section 34(4) of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) - to be moved by Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung
8 The Deputy Chairman said that members had agreed at the last meeting to form a subcommittee to study the subsidiary legislation relating to fee increases tabled at the Council meeting on 10 December 1997. He added that Dr LEONG Che-hung had given notice to move a resolution on behalf of the House Committee at the Council meeting on 7 January 1998 to extend the scrutiny period to 14 January 1998 to allow the subcommittee more time for work.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 14 January 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 505)
9 The Deputy Chairman said that 20 questions (6 oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled. He drew members attention to four new questions (Question Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 12) set out in the paper.
10 Professor NG Ching-fai said that the mode of operation in respect of the mass slaughter of chickens and the disposal of the carcasses had aroused public concern that the influenza A virus H5N1 might spread further. He had written to seek the Presidents permission to ask an urgent question on the matter (draft wording tabled at the meeting) at the Council meeting on 7 January 1998 under Rule 24(4) of the Rules of Procedure. He would like to seek members support for him to ask the question as it was of an urgent character and related to a matter of public importance.
11 Members agreed that Professor NGs request to ask the proposed question at the Council meeting on 7 January 1998 be supported.
12 The Deputy Chairman said that he had just received a note from Mr Andrew WONG seeking the House Committees support for him to also ask an urgent question under Rule 24(4) at the Council meeting on 7 January 1998 concerning the provision of emergency assistance to people in the poultry trade whose livelihood was affected by the slaughter of chickens. The Deputy Chairman invited views from members.
13 Messrs CHAN Kam-lam, WONG Siu-yee and James TIEN were of the view that there would not be the need for Mr Andrew WONG to ask the question on 7 January 1998 as the Panel on Economic Services would hold a meeting on 5 January 1998 at which the subject matter of Mr WONGs proposed question would be discussed. Mr James TIEN added that the Administrations request for emergency funds to pay compensation to the affected parties would be considered by the Finance Committee at its meeting on 9 January 1998. He anticipated that the Administration would brief Panel members on the details of the emergency assistance package at the meeting on 5 January 1998.
14 Mr Andrew WONG said that if the information he was seeking was made available by the Administration before the Council meeting on 7 January 1998, his question would be out of order under Rule 25(1) and could not be asked. He considered that the inclusion of his proposed question on the agenda for the Council meeting on 7 January 1998 could put pressure on the Administration to deal with the matter urgently.
15 Members agreed that Mr WONGs request to ask the proposed question at the Council meeting on 7 January 1998 be supported.
16 The Deputy Chairman said that the President would be notified of the Committees support for permitting Professor NG and Mr WONG to each ask an urgent question at the Council meeting on 7 January 1998.
Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings
17 No notice had been received.
Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading
Mass Transit Railway Corporation (Amendment) Bill 1997
18 The Deputy Chairman said that members had agreed at the last meeting that the Second Reading debate on the above Bill be resumed.
19 The Legal Adviser said that he had reported at the last meeting that there was one technical point relating to the Chinese text which the Administration had been invited to consider amending. In response, the Administration had proposed that the amendment be effected by way of subsidiary legislation at a later date in order not to delay the passage of the Bill. The Legal Adviser was of the view that the enactment of the Bill in its present form would not affect its legal effect. He recommended that the Administrations proposal be accepted. Members agreed.
20 No notice had been received.
- Motion on "Review of the local pre-primary school"
21 Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Miss CHOY So-yuk.
Motion on "Two-tier social security scheme"
22 Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr CHAN Kam-lam.
23 The Deputy Chairman advised members that the deadline of giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 7 January 1998. The normal speaking time limits would apply.
VI. Advance information on Members motions for the Council meeting on 21 January 1998
- Motion on "Liquefied petroleum gas taxi scheme"
24 Members noted that a debate slot had been allocated to Mr Allen LEE for him to move the above motion.
Motion on "Reduction of taxes and slow down of increases in government fees"
25 Members noted that a debate slot had been allocated to Mr CHAN Wing-chan for him to move the above motion.
26 The Deputy Chairman said that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and amendments, if any, were 6 January 1998 and 14 January 1998 respectively.
VIII. Any other business
- Position report on Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 796)
27 The Deputy Chairman said that there were three Subcommittees and two Bills Committees in action. In addition, one Bills Committee would report under item VII(b) below.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 795)
28 Dr TANG Siu-tong highlighted the main deliberations of the Bills Committee as detailed in the paper. He said that the Bills Committee had held three meetings, two of which were with the Administration. No agreement could be reached with the Administration regarding the relaxation of the minimum service requirement set out in the Bill. A majority of Bills Committee members present at the meeting on 9 December 1997 were of the view that the recommendation of the Working Group on Review of the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance concerning the relaxation of the service requirement for employees engaged in four very noisy occupations was reasonable. They did not accept the Administrations explanation for not accepting this recommendation and agreed that the Bills Committee should move a Committee stage amendment (CSA) to relax the service requirement from 10 years to five years in the four very noisy occupations concerned. As regards the maximum degree of permanent incapacity for compensation purposes, most of the Bills Committee members agreed that it should be set at 60% which was generally on par with the degree of permanent incapacity for total deafness adopted in Singapore, Australia and USA.
29 In reply to Mr James TIEN, Dr TANG said that with an increase of 0.8% in the levy rate proposed in the Bill, the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board would have sufficient funds to meet its commitments for at least two to three years. Dr TANG added that the Administration anticipated that the number of qualified claimants would decrease following the implementation of the hearing conservation programme by the Labour Department.
30 Mr HO Sai-chu said that as the compensation scheme had only been in force for about a year and a half, he had reservations about relaxing the minimum service requirement at this point in time.
31 Mrs Sophie LEUNG asked why the CSA was moved in the name of the Bills Committee, given that some members did not agree that the minimum service requirement should be relaxed. Dr TANG reiterated that the decision was made at the meeting on 9 December 1997. The Deputy Chairman said that the decision of the Bills Committee was not binding on Members and that any Member was free to propose amendments to the Bill. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill should resume.
- Chief Executives Question and Answer Session to be held on 15 January 1998
32 The Deputy Chairman said that the question and answer session would be held on 15 January 1998. The Chief Executives Office would inform the Secretariat of the topics for the session, probably before 9 January 1998. In response to Mr HUI Yin-fat, he said that Members could suggest topics for the Chief Executives consideration.
33 Mr HO Sai-chu suggested that "Hong Kongs economy" be included as a topic for the session. The Deputy Chairman undertook to convey the suggestion to the Administration.
Election of Members to the Court of the University of Hong Kong
34 The Deputy Chairman said that at the meeting on 24 October 1997, members had agreed that the University of Hong Kong be invited to review Statute XV of the University of Hong Kong Ordinance which provided for a Legislative Council Member to continue to serve his/her three-year term as a member of the University Court even if he/she ceased to be a Member of the Legislative Council which elected him/her.
35 The Deputy Chairman said that after approaching the University on the matter, he had received a letter dated 14 November 1997 from the Director of External Affairs of the University. The Director explained that although the University was prepared to amend the Statute, the University proposed that the Provisional Legislative Council and the University should as an interim measure "mutually agree to an interpretation of paragraph 5 of Statute XV" to achieve the intended purpose of the amendment because amending the law would take time.
36 The Deputy Chairman added that he had consulted the Legal Adviser who was of the view that the proposal was inconsistent with what was provided in the law. He had therefore written to the Director of External Affairs on 28 November 1997 asking the University to reconsider its proposal. In response, the Director had replied on 4 December 1997 informing him that the University would further consider the matter and send a substantive reply at a later date.
37 Mr Allen LEE said that a Legislative Council Member elected to serve on the University Court should cease to serve on the University Court if he/she ceased to be a legislator as he/she no longer represented the Council. He was of the view that either the University be asked to amend the Statute as soon as possible, or Members could consider introducing a Members Bill to achieve the purpose.
38 In reply to Mr Frederick FUNG, the Legal Adviser explained that there was no requirement in the Statute for a member of the University Court elected by Members of the Legislative Council to remain as a legislator during the three-year term of office on the University Court. Mr FUNG said that in the past, an Urban Councillor elected to serve on the Housing Authority would continue to be a member of the Housing Authority even if he/she ceased to be an Urban Councillor. He added that there was no urgency to amend the Statute as the Provisional Legislative Council should only deal with legislative proposals which were essential to the operation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.
39 In reply to Mr CHENG Yiu-tong, the Legal Adviser said that there was no mechanism under existing law for an elected member of the University Court to be removed from office if he/she ceased to be a Member of the legislature which elected him/her to the University Court. The Legal Adviser added that in the case of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, its Statute provided for a member of the University Council elected by Members of the Legislative Council to cease to hold office if he/she ceased to be a Legislative Council Member.
40 Mrs Elsie TU said that it was not the appropriate time to deal with amendment to the Statute as the term of the Provisional Legislative Council would last for only a few more months. She suggested that members should wait for the reply from the University before considering the way forward.
41 The Deputy Chairman said that he would make a further report when a substantive reply from the University was received.
42 The meeting ended at 3:40 pm.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
7 January 1998