PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1223
Ref : PLC/HC/4
House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council
Minutes of the 37th meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber at 2:30 pm on Friday, 13 March 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Hon IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Members absent :
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
Hon YUEN Mo
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon LO Suk-ching
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon CHOY So-yuk
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 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
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Ms Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2
- Mrs Betty LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (3)1
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 36th meeting held on 6 March 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1159)
1.The minutes were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary forAdministration (CS)
Housing (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1997
2.The Chairman informed members that CS had confirmed that there was no special reason for the withdrawal of the notice to resume the Second Reading debate at the Council meeting on 18 March 1998 except to take a further look at certain details of the Bill. The Chairman added that the Administration had already given notice for the debate to resume on 1 April 1998.
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings
Legal Service Divisions report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 11 March 1998 (gazetted on 6 March 1998)
(PLC Paper No. LS 122)
3.The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which detailed the 11 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 6 March 1998.
4.The Legal Adviser informed members that the various increases and new fees proposed in the Securities and Futures Commission (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 1998 ("the 1998 Rules") were the same as those set out in the Securities and Futures Commission (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 1997 which were repealed by the Provisional Legislative Council on 15 October 1997.
5.Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that as the fees mainly affected the banking sector, he did not envisage any problems. The Chairman added that the fees in question were payable to the Securities and Futures Commission and not to the general revenue. Since members did not have any particular views, it would not be necessary for a subcommittee to study the Rules.
6.As regards the Food Business (Urban Council) (Amendment) Bylaw 1998 and the Food Business (Regional Council) (Amendment) Bylaw 1998, the Chairman said that the Panel on Economic Services was briefed on the proposed segregation policy at its meeting on 9 March 1998 and members had raised no objection.
7.Mrs Selina CHOW suggested that a subcommittee should be formed as the trades concerned might have views on the two Bylaws. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join the subcommittee : Mrs Elsie TU, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr CHAN Wing-chan and Dr TANG Siu-tong.
8.The Chairman said that there were seven Commencement Notices relating to the Buildings Ordinance. Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that he would consult the industries concerned on the proposed commencement dates and report at the next meeting should there be any problems.
9.In response to the Chairmans enquiry, the Legal Adviser said that the proposed commencement date in respect of the Shipping and Port Control (Amendment) Regulation 1997 was 4 May 1998.
10.The Chairman reminded members that deadline for giving notice to move amendment on 8 April 1998 was 31 March 1998.
IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 18 March 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 758)
11.The Chairman said that 12 written questions had been scheduled.
- Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
Building Management (Amendment) Bill 1998
12.The Chairman said that members had agreed at the last meeting that the Second Reading debate on the above Bill be resumed. He added that a total of three Bills would be dealt with at the meeting, the other two being the Merchant Shipping (Registration) (Amendment) Bill 1998 and the Appropriation Bill 1998.
Resolution under section 47(2) of the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (91 of 1997) as read with section 69(5) of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480) - to be moved by the Secretary for Home Affairs
13.The Legal Adviser explained that the resolution sought to make certain technical amendments to both the English and Chinese texts of the Code of Practice on Employment under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (91 of 1997) (G.N. 635) which was gazetted on 13 February 1998. The Chairman said that the amendments were proposed in response to comments raised by the Legal Service Division.
- Members Motion
The Chairman said that Mr CHAN Kam-lam had given notice to move a resolution to extend the scrutiny period of the Attachment of Income Order Rules to 1 April 1998. Mr CHAN would report under agenda item VII (g) below.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 25 March 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 759)
The Chairman informed members that 12 questions (six oral and six written) had been tentatively scheduled and that the deadline for giving notice of questions was 16 March 1998.
- Bills - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading--
- Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 1998
- Estate Duty (Amendment) Bill 1998
- Air Passenger Departure Tax (Amendment) Bill 1998
- Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamation) (Amendment) Bill 1998
- Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998
- Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1998
16.The Chairman said that members had agreed at the last meeting that the Second Reading debate on the above six Bills be resumed.
- Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 1998
17.Members noted that the Administration had given notice to resume the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 25 March 1998. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee formed to study the Bill would report under agenda item VII(e) below.
- Resolution under section 18(1) of the Rating Ordinance (Cap. 116) - to be moved by Secretary for the Treasury
18.The Chairman said that the resolution sought to give effect to the Budget proposal to reduce the overall rates percentage charge from 5% to 4.5% for the year 1998-99. Members had noted at the last meeting that the legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order and had not raised any queries.
- Resolution under section 3(2) of the Hotel Accommodation Tax Ordinance (Cap. 348) - to be moved by Secretary for the Treasury
19.The Chairman explained that the resolution sought to give effect to the proposal in the 1998-99 Budget to reduce the rate of hotel accommodation tax from 5% to 3%. Members had noted at the last meeting that the legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order and had not raised any queries.
- Members motions
- Motion on "Improving the local unemployment situation"
Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Miss CHAN Yuen-han.
- Motion on "Formulating a policy on culture"
21.Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok.
22.The Chairman reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 18 March 1998 and that the revised speaking time limits stipulated in House Rule 17(c) would apply.
VI. Advance information on motions for the Council meeting on 1 April 1998
- Motion on "Freedom of expression of Radio Television Hong Kong"
23.Members noted that Mr Edward HO Sing-tin had been allocated a debate slot.
- Motion on "Establishment of a social welfare development fund"
24.Members noted that Eric LI Ka-cheung had been allocated a debate slot.
25.The Chairman said that the deadlines for giving notice of, and amendments, if any, to the above motions were 17 March 1998 and 25 March 1998 respectively.
- Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1179)
26.The Chairman informed members that there were five subcommittees and seven Bills Committees in action. In addition, members had earlier agreed to form one subcommittee under agenda item III. Four Bills Committees had completed work and would report under agenda item VII(b), (c), (d) and (e) below.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Fire Safety (Commercial Premises)(Amendment) Bill 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1183)
27.Mrs Selina CHOW said that subject to the amendments which the Administration had agreed to make, the Bills Committee did not consider that there was any problem with the Bill. Mrs CHOW explained that one of the amendments was to make it clear that the application for and making of a prohibition order should be on the basis of a unit of a specified commercial building , rather than the whole building. This was in response to the Bills Committees concern that it would be difficult to ensure that all owners of a building would conform to the fire safety requirements.
28.Mrs CHOW added that the Bills Committee was very concerned about the setting up of the Fire Safety Improvement Fund which was in fact outside the scope of the Bill. Members had questioned whether the proposed amount of $200 million for the Fund would be adequate. She informed members that the Administration would seek approval for the Fund at the Finance Committee meeting on 20 March 1998.
29.Members noted that the Bills Committee had recommended resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 25 March 1998.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Prevention of Copyright Piracy Bill
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1186)
30.Mr MA Fung-kwok said that the Bills Committee held a total of six meetings and received the views of 18 deputations from the industries concerned which in general welcomed the proposed measures to prevent copyright piracy.
31.Mr MA added that in response the Bills Committees concern about certain provisions, the Administration would move Committee stage amendments to the Bill to the following effect -
- The Commissioner of Customs and Excise would assign, instead of approve, the manufacturers code;
- The Commissioner would not have the power to revoke or refuse to renew a licence on the basis of records of previously adjudged civil liabilities of copyright infringement;
- It would be a defence for the accused to show that he had taken all reasonable steps to avoid committing an offence under the Bill;
- The period of time for which an authorized officer could seal a place for the purpose of collecting evidence in proceedings should not exceed 14 days; and
- An owner could, within 30 days following the date of seizure or detention of any optical disc, equipment or any other item, give notice of claim that the item was not liable to forfeiture.
32.Members noted that the Bills Committee had recommended that the Bill be supported subject to the amendments being made and that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 25 March 1998.
Report of the Bills Committee on Kowloon-Canton RailwayCorporation (Amendment) Bill 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(1) 1057)
33.Mrs Miriam LAU said that in response to the Bills Committees suggestions, the Administration would move amendments to -
- require KCRC to notify the Director of Lands on its initiatives of any land which was no longer required for operational purposes;
- provide for the Ordinance to come into operation once it was gazetted and not on a date appointed by notice in the Gazette as the PLC would unlikely have meetings after 8 April 1998; and
- improve the drafting of both the Chinese and English versions of new section 7B(2)(b) in clause 5 of the Bill.
34.Mrs LAU added that the Bills Committee had recommended that the Bill be supported. The Chairman said that resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill would also be on 25 March 1998.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Dutiable Commodities(Amendment) Bill 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(1) 1112 tabled at the meeting and circulated vide PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1217 on 16 March 1998)
35.Mr Ronald ARCULLI reported that the Bills Committee was inclined to support only the proposed increase in duties on tobacco. As regards fuel and methyl alcohol, Mr ARCULLI said that he needed not elaborate as Members had presented their views in detail at the debate on the Appropriation Bill at the Council meeting on 11 and 12 March 1998.
36.The Chairman said that the Administration had given notice to resume the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 25 March 1998.
- Report of the subcommittee on Telecommunication (Amendment) Regulation 1998 and Telephone (Repeal) Regulation 1998
(PLC Paper No. CB(1) 1107)
37.Referring members to the paper, the Chairman said that the subcommittee Chairman, Mr James TIEN, had reported at the last meeting that the subcommittee had recommended that the two Regulations be supported.
- Report of the subcommittee on Attachment of Income Order Rules
38.Mr CHAN Kam-lam reported that as the subcommittee needed to hold a further meeting on 16 March 1998 to continue scrutiny of the Rules and to meet deputations, he would move a resolution at the Council meeting on 18 March 1998 to extend the scrutiny period of the Rules to 1 April 1998. He added that the deadline for giving notice to amend the Rules on 1 April 1998 was 25 March 1998.
- Report of the subcommittee on the four items of subsidiary legislation made under the Mental Health Ordinance (Cap. 136)
39.Dr TANG Siu-tong said that the four items of subsidiary legislation were gazetted on 20 February 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 27 February 1998. The subcommittee had completed scrutiny of the four items and recommended that they be supported. Dr TANG further said that a written report would be made to the next meeting and reminded members that the deadline for giving notice for amendments was 18 March 1998.
- Report on the Provisional Legislative Council Delegations Visit to Singapore
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 735)
40. Referring members to the report on the visit which detailed the programme and discussions held, Mr Edward HO, leader of the Delegation, said that the information gathered during the four day was very useful and that the Singapores policies in areas such as information technology and urban redevelopment were worthy of serious study. As regards future exchanges, it would be a matter for the First Legislative Council to consider.
41.Mr HO suggested that copies of the report be sent to the Policy Bureaux and Government departments concerned. The Chairman added that relevant extracts from the report should also be placed on record by the Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat to facilitate Members of the First Legislative Council to follow up.
VIII. Any other business
- Bills Committee on Adaptation of Laws (Interpretative Provisions) Bill
42.The Chairman informed members that the Bills Committee would hold its first meeting immediately after the House Committee meeting. As two of the six Members who had signed up for the Bills Committee were currently in Beijing and one other Member had just been hospitalized, the Chairman suggested that Rule 23 of the House Rules governing late membership of committees be suspended to enable other Members to join the Bills Committee. Members agreed. The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr Bruce LIU and Mrs Miriam LAU (as advised by Mr Ronald ARCULLI).
- Council meeting scheduled for 8 April 1998 and Valedictory Motion
43.The Chairman said that the last Council meeting should commence on 7 April 1998 in order that oral questions, bills and motions with legislative effect could be dealt with in one day and that debates on Members motions without legislative effect and a valedictory motion debate, should members decide to have one, would take place on 8 April 1998. Members agreed that there should be a valedictory motion debate and the Chairman should be the mover of the motion.
44.Miss CHAN Yuen-han expressed concern that two days might not be enough if the resolutions relating to the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes were to be dealt with at the last meeting. The Chairman responded that the resolutions were tentatively scheduled for the Council meeting on 1 April 1998. He added that if necessary, Members could recommend to the President to start the meeting at 9:00 am instead of 2:30 pm on 7 April 1998. Members agreed.
45.Mrs Selina CHOW pointed out that in the last Legislative Council term, all Members spoke at the valedictory motion debate and it lasted from midnight until the following morning. She asked whether members would consider having fewer speeches, for instance, Members of the same political party would choose one Member to speak on their behalf.
46.The Chairman responded that if the debate was to start at 12:30 pm on 8 April 1998, it should finish in time for the end-of-term dinner scheduled for 7:00 pm.
47.Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Mr MOK Ying-fan and Mr LEE Kai-ming were of the view that there should not be any restriction on the number of Members who would speak at the debate given that some Members did not belong to any political parties or groups. Mr LEE suggested that a shorter time limit of five minutes instead of the usual seven minutes be recommended to the President. Members agreed. The Chairman said that as the mover of the motion, his speaking time should also be cut short by two minutes i.e. 13 minutes for his introductory speech and reply.
48.The Chairman added that he would consult members on the wording of the valedictory motion which would be couched in neutral terms as there should not be any amendment to the motion.
49.Mr Bruce LIU suggested that the President be invited to also make a valedictory speech. The Chairman undertook to convey Mr LIUs suggestion and the above recommendations of the House Committee to the President.
50.The meeting ended at 3:30 pm.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
18 March 1998