Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. CB(2) 855
Ref : PLC/HC/4
House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council
Minutes of the meeting
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
at 5:40 pm on Friday, 9 January 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Hon IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon YUEN Mo
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon LO Suk-ching
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Members absent :
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
- Mr Ricky C C FUNG, JP
- Secretary General
- Mr Jimmy MA
- Legal Adviser
- Mr LAW Kam-sang, JP
- Deputy Secretary General
- Mr LEE Yu-sang
- Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
- Ms Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mr Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- 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 30th meeting held on 2 January 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 817)
The minutes were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
(a) Introduction of bills into Council
2. The Chairman said that 11 out of the 19 bills on the list of bills to be dealt with by the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) had yet to be introduced. He had again reminded CS that the Council would not have enough time to process any bills which were introduced very late in the day.
(b) Chief Executives Question and Answer Session on 15 January 1998
3. The Chairman said that the Chief Executives Office had informed the PLC Secretariat that the Chief Executive would answer questions on "Economy and finance" and "Avian flu and environmental hygiene" at the Question and Answer Session on 15 January 1998.
4. Mr IP Kwok-him suggested that "Using mother-tongue as the medium of teaching" be included as a topic for the session.
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings
Legal Service Divisions report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
Housing (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1997
(PLC Paper No. LS 72)
5. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that apart from a new proposal to allow the Director of Housing to appoint any number of members to the appeal panel, the Bill contained the same amendments as those proposed in the Housing (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997 which lapsed at the end of the last Legislative Council term because the Administration did not proceed to resume the Second Reading debate on the Bill.
6. The Chairman invited members to consider the need for a Bills Committee to study the Bill. Mr IP Kwok-him suggested that a Bills Committee be formed. Mr Frederick FUNG said that the Bill was not essential to the operation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region given that the Administration did not proceed with the resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill in the last Legislative Council term. There was therefore no urgency for the Administration to introduce the Bill in the current legislative session and he objected to the formation of a Bills Committee.
7. The Chairman put the matter to vote. There were 11 votes for and 2 votes against the formation of a Bills Committee. The Chairman declared that a Bills Committee would be set up to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join: Dr Raymond HO Chung-tai, Miss CHAN Yuen-han and Mr CHENG Kai-nam (as advised by Mr IP Kwok-him).
IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 14 January 1998
Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings
(a) Immigration (Amendment) Bill 1998
(b) Housing (Amendment) Bill 1998
8. The Chairman said that the two Bills, which were not on the list of bills to be dealt with by the PLC, would be introduced into the Council on 14 January 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 23 January 1998.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 21 January 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 526)
9. The Chairman said that 16 questions (6 oral and 10 written) had been tentatively scheduled. He reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of questions scheduled for the Council meeting on 21 January 1998 was 12 January 1998.
(b) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings
10. No notice had been received.
(c) Bills - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading
11. No notice had been received.
(e) Members motions
- Two resolutions under section 20B(3) of the Fixed Penalty (Traffic Contraventions) Ordinance (Cap. 237) and section 9(3) of the Fixed Penalty (Criminal Proceedings) Ordinance (Cap. 240) - to be moved by the Secretary for Transport
(PLC Paper No. LS 74)
12. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that a person who initially disputed liability for fixed penalty in respect of offences under the two Ordinances might subsequently terminate the proceedings by paying the fixed penalty together with an additional penalty of the same amount and court costs. The two resolutions sought to increase the court costs from $440 to $500 to maintain the value in real terms. The drafting and legal aspects of the two resolutions were in order.
13. Members raised no queries on the resolutions.
- Resolution under section 4(3) of the Road Traffic (Driving-offence Points) Ordinance (Cap. 375) - to be moved by the Secretary for Transport
(PLC Paper No. LS 75)
14. The Legal Adviser said that the resolution sought the Councils approval to amend the Schedule to the Road Traffic (Driving-offence Points) Ordinance to include the bylaws/regulations for the various tunnels and Tsing Ma Control Area so that specified offences under the Ordinance committed within the tunnel areas or Tsing Ma Control Area would incur driving-offence points. The drafting and legal aspects of the resolution were in order.
15. Members raised no queries on the resolution.
- Resolution under section 2(3) of the Legislative Provisions (Suspension of Operation) Ordinance 1997 (126 of 1997) - to be moved by the Secretary for Home Affairs
(PLC Paper No. LS 76)
16. The Legal Adviser said that the Legislative Provisions (Suspension of Operation) Ordinance 1997 was enacted in July last year suspending, among other things, the operation of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 until 31 October 1997. The period of suspension was extended to 31 January 1998 by a resolution of the Council on 29 October 1997. The resolution in question to be moved by the Secretary for Home Affairs at the Council meeting on 21 January 1998 sought to further extend the period of suspension until 28 February 1998. The Administration had explained that the further extension of the suspension period aimed to allow Members sufficient time to consider the proposal on the way forward for the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (Amendment) Ordinance 1997, which would soon be submitted by the Administration. The Legal Adviser added that the drafting and legal aspects of the resolution were in order.
17. The Chairman added that the Administration would brief the Panel on Home Affairs on the resolution at the Panel meeting on 19 January 1998.
18. Members raised no queries on the resolution.
19. The Chairman advised members that the deadline of notice of amendments, if any, to the above resolutions was 14 January 1998.
- Motion on "Liquefied petroleum gas taxi scheme"
20. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr Allen LEE.
Motion on "Improving the mechanisms for managing infectious diseases and imported livestock quarantine"
21. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr CHAN Wing-chan.
22. The Chairman advised members that the deadline of giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 14 January 1998. The normal speaking time limits would apply.
(a) Position report on Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 816)
23. The Chairman said that there were two Subcommittees and two Bills Committees in action. The Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation gazetted on 5 December 1997 relating to fee increases would report under item VI(b) below. In addition, members had earlier agreed to form a Bills Committee under item III above.(b) Report of the Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation gazetted on 5 December 1997 relating to fee increases
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 826)
24. Mr WONG Siu-yee, Chairman of the Subcommittee, reported that the Subcommittee had recommended that the 14 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 5 December 1997 relating to fee increases be supported.(c) Report of the Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 531)
25. Mr Edward HO, Chairman of the Subcommittee, outlined the proposed terms of reference of the Subcommittee and its proposals relating to the visit to Singapore as detailed in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the paper. Mr HO said that the Subcommittee had proposed that the size of the PLC delegation should be ten Members and one Secretariat staff member after consultation with the Singapore Parliaments Hong Kong-Singapore Parliamentary Friendship Group. He sought members support of the recommendation that the Subcommittee be authorized to select Members to join the delegation as set out in paragraph 4(ii) of the paper. He added that he did not envisage any particular problem if more than ten Members were selected by the Subcommittee. In response to the Chairman, Assistant Secretary General 3 said that a sum of $300,000 had been provided in the 1997/98 budget for Members visits relating to parliamentary liaison activities. He added that the Singapore side would need to be consulted if the proposed size of the delegation exceeded ten Members.
26. A few members said that whilst they agreed that the Subcommittee should be authorized to select Members for the visit, they were however of the view that the Subcommittee should submit to the House Committee for endorsement a list of the Members selected to join the delegation. Members agreed.
27. Members endorsed the terms of reference of the Subcommittee and the programme of the visit as proposed in paragraphs 3 and 4(i) and (iii) of the paper.(d) Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation relating to Legislative Council election
28. Mr IP Kwok-him, Chairman of the Subcommittee, made a verbal report on the Subcommittees deliberations on the three sets of subsidiary legislation relating to the 1998 Legislative Council election gazetted on 19 December 1997. Mr IP said that the Subcommittee had recommended that the Distribution of Number of Members Among the Designated Bodies (Election Committee) (Legislative Council) Order 1997, which specified the number of members allocated to the religious subsector to be distributed among that six designated religious bodies, be supported.
29. As regards the Legislative Council (Subscribers and Election Deposit for Nomination) Regulation, the Subcommittee noted that as each Election Committee (EC) member was required by law to cast all 10 votes, a threshold of 2.5% for the EC subsector elections would mean that any unsuccessful candidate who obtained less than 200 votes out of the 8,000 valid votes (i.e. 800 EC members x 10 votes) would have his/her election deposit forfeited. The Subcommittee considered that it would not be easy for a candidate to secure 200 votes. The Subcommittee had therefore recommended that the threshold should be calculated on the basis of the number of valid ballot papers cast and that it should be increased from 2.5% to 5%. Mr IP said that the Administration had verbally advised him shortly before the House Committee meeting that it had no objection to the Subcommittees recommendation and suggested that the changes be effected by way of amendments to be proposed by the Subcommittee. He added that the Administration had undertaken to write to confirm this by Monday, 12 January 1998.
[Post-meeting note : The Administrations written confirmation was received on 10 January 1998.]
30. Mr IP further reported that a member of the Subcommittee had proposed that the threshold of 5% for Geographical Constituency (GC) elections should be lowered to 2.5%. The member considered that the requirements for subscribers and election deposit for nomination were adequate measures to deter frivolous candidates. The Subcommittee could not reach a consensus on the matter.
31. The Subcommittee considered that the election deposit for nomination in the EC subsector elections should be of a nominal amount in order not to discourage eligible persons from standing as candidates for the EC subsector elections. Mr IP said that he would move a resolution at the Council meeting on 21 January 1998 on behalf of the Subcommittee to reduce the amount of election deposit for nomination from $5,000 to $1,000.
32. In respect of the Maximum Scale of Election Expenses (Legislative Council) Order 1997, Mr IP said that a few members of the Subcommittee expressed concern about the drastic increase in the election expenses limits proposed for the 1998 GC and Functional Constituency elections. A member of the Subcommittee had suggested that the proposed election expenses limit of $500,000 per GC seat should be reduced in view of the poor results of the voter registration exercise. The Administration was of the view that the proposed limits were reasonable and did not recommend any changes. Mr IP added that the Subcommittee could not reach a consensus on the matter and a member of the Subcommittee had indicated that he might propose amendments to the Order.
33. Mr IP added that a written report on the deliberations of the Subcommittee on the above three items of subsidiary legislation would be circulated to members for reference before the Council meeting on 21 January 1998. He also reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the subsidiary legislation was 14 January 1998.
34. The meeting ended at 6:25 pm.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
21 January 1998