Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. 471/96-97

Ref : PLC/HC/4

House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the meeting held at the Main Hall, Huaxia Art Centre, Shenzhen at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, 14 June 1997

Members present:

Dr the Honourable LEONG Che-hung (Chairman)
The Honourable IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
The Honourable WONG Siu-yee
The Honourable TIEN Pei-chun, James
The Honourable CHU Yu-lin, David
The Honourable HO Sai-chu
The Honourable HO Sing-tin, Edward
Dr the Honourable HO Chung-tai
The Honourable NG Leung-sing
Prof the Honourable NG Ching-fai
The Honourable LEE Kai-ming
The Honourable LEE Peng-fei, Allen
The Honourable Mrs TU, Elsie
The Honourable Mrs CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, Selina
The Honourable Mrs LAM, Peggy
The Honourable WU, Henry
The Honourable NGAI Shiu-kit
The Honourable YUEN Mo
The Honourable MA Fung-kwok
The Honourable Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
The Honourable LEUNG Chun-ying
The Honourable Mrs LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, Sophie
The Honourable MOK Ying-fan
The Honourable CHAN Choi-hi
The Honourable CHAN Yuen-han
The Honourable CHAN Wing-chan
The Honourable CHAN Kam-lam
The Honourable TSANG Yok-sing
The Honourable CHENG Kai-nam
The Honourable FUNG Kin-kee, Frederick
The Honourable WONG Ying-ho, Kennedy
The Honourable YEUNG Chun-kam
The Honourable YEUNG Yiu-chung
The Honourable CHIM Pui-chung
The Honourable LIU Sing-lee, Bruce
The Honourable LAU Kong-wah
The Honourable LAU Hon-chuen, Ambrose
The Honourable CHENG Ming-fun, Paul
Dr the Honourable TANG Siu-tong
The Honourable FOK Tsun-ting, Timothy
The Honourable KAN Fook-yee
The Honourable LO Suk-ching
The Honourable TAM Wai-chu, Maria
The Honourable TAM Yiu-chung

Members absent:

The Honourable LI Ka-cheung, Eric
The Honourable LI Kwok-po, David
The Honourable TANG Ying-yen, Henry
The Honourable ARCULLI, Ronald
The Honourable CHEUNG Hon-chung
The Honourable HUI Yin-fat
The Honourable WONG Wang-fat Andrew
Dr the Honourable WONG Yu-hong, Philip
The Honourable YOUNG, Howard
The Honourable LAU Wong-fat
The Honourable Mrs LAU Kin-yee, Miriam
The Honourable CHOY Kan-pui
The Honourable CHENG Yiu-tong
The Honourable NGAN Kam-chuen
Dr the Honourable LAW Cheung-kwok

Clerk in attendance:

Ms Pauline NGClerk to the House Committee

Staff in attendance:

Mr Arthur CHEUNGLegal Adviser
Miss Salumi CHANCommittee Clerk 2
Mr Raymond LAMAssistant Committee Clerk 5

I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 8th meeting on 7 June 1997
(PLC Paper No. 421/96-97)

The minutes were confirmed.

II. Matters arising
  1. Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the President

  2. 2. The Chairman advised that the President had decided that the Council meeting on 1 July 1997 would be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Extension. Members noted the circular which had just been issued by the President on the subject.

  3. Method of studying the draft "Reunification" Bill

  4. 3. The Chairman reported that at his meeting with the Secretary for Policy Co-ordination, he was given to understand that the draft "Reunification" Bill would be presented to the Council on 21 June in the form of either a white bill or a consultation document for the purpose of soliciting Members' views. To allow Members more time to understand the content of the Bill, the document would be released to Members as soon as practicable after it was endorsed by the Executive Council on 17 June.

    4. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that a subcommittee of the House Committee be formed to study the document in detail and the Secretary of Justice be requested to conduct a briefing for members of the subcommittee prior to its being tabled in the Council. It was also agreed that there should be no limit on the membership of this subcommittee. A circular inviting membership would be issued by the Secretariat and members were requested to forward their names on or before 16 June to facilitate preparatory work.

    5. Members also agreed that the subcommittee would meet after the Council meeting on 21 June until its work was completed, with a view to reporting back to the House Committee on 22 June. Representatives of the Chief Executive (CE)'s Office would be present at the meeting of the subcommittee to respond to questions and to note members' views.
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings

  1. Legal Adviser's report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)

    1. Oaths and Declarations (Amendment) Bill 1997
    2. (PLC Paper No. 422/96-97)

      6. The Legal Adviser highlighted that the Bill was aimed at making the necessary adaptations so that the principal ordinance could be made applicable to circumstances existing on and after 1 July 1997. Since no substantial policy issues were involved, he did not consider that there was any need to set up a Bills Committee for the purpose. He would refer any technical points to the CE's Office and would deal with any proposed Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) in the usual manner.

      7. Members agreed that the second reading debate on the Bill could be resumed at the next Council meeting on 21 June. The Chairman asked members to put forward any questions on the Bill, if any, through the Secretariat to the CE's Office as soon as possible after the meeting.
IV. Business for the Council meeting on 21 June 1997

  1. Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings

  2. 8. The Chairman advised that no formal notice had so far been received on the first and second readings of bills for the Council meeting on 21 June 1997.

  3. Bills - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading

    1. Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (Amendment) Bill 1997

    2. Judicial Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 1997

    3. 9.Members noted that the Secretary of Justice had given notice to resume the second reading debate on the two bills on 21 June.

    4. Immigration (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1997

    5. 10.Subject to members' agreement to the report to be presented by the Bills Committee, resumption of the second reading debate on this Bill would also take place on 21 June.

    6. Oaths and Declarations (Amendment) Bill 1997

    7. 11. As agreed by members at para. 7 above, the second reading debate on this Bill could be resumed on 21 June.

  4. Motions

  5. 12. The Chairman advised that Mrs Selina CHOW, Convenor of the Working Group on Rules of Procedure, would consult members on the proposal of the Working Group to amend Rules 12 and 65 of the Rules of Procedure, and subject to members' views, she would move a motion for the purpose at the Council meeting on 21 June.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 1 July 1997

    13. The Chairman advised that no formal notice had been received for any item of business to be put on the agenda of the meeting on 1 July. However, it was expected that the "Reunification" Bill would be presented to the Council for three readings at this meeting.
VI. Report of Bills Committee
  1. Report of the Bills Committee on the Immigration (Amendment)(No. 3) Bill 1997

  2. 14.Mr Paul CHENG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that the Bills Committee had completed the scrutiny of the Bill in the previous evening. He then gave a verbal report on the work of the Bills Committee. The Bills Committee was satisfied with the CE's Office's explanation on the policy aspects and that members' views had been incorporated in the CSAs proposed by the CE's Office. He therefore recommended that the second reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 21 June 1997. In response to a member's request, Mr CHENG outlined the CSAs which the CE's Office would propose as agreed with the Bills Committee.

    15. Members noted that the written report of the Bills Committee would be available by Tuesday, 17 June. The Chairman requested members to forward CSAs, if any, to the Secretariat as soon as practicable and not later than 19 June. Mr Bruce LIU informed members that as the CE's Office had fully taken into account the views of the Bills Committee, his party, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, therefore would not be proposing any CSAs to the Bill.

    (Post-meeting note : The written report of the Bills Committee (PLC Paper No. 442/96-97) was issued to Members on 17 June under the cover of PLC Paper No. 457/96-97.) VII. Any Other business

    1. Consultation on the recommendations of the Working Group on Rules of Procedure to amend Rule 12 and Rule 65 of the Rules of Procedure

    2. (PLC Paper No. 423/96-97)
      (PLC Paper No. 434/96-97 tabled at the meeting)

      16. Mrs Selina CHOW, Convenor of the Working Group on Rules of Procedure, invited members to give views on the proposed amendments to Rule 65 which related to the procedures for confirming bills. As it had been pointed out to the Working Group that the CE's Office would be presenting a bill, i.e. a "Reunification" Bill, to confirm the bills passed by the Council before 1 July, it would be necessary to amend Rule 65 which currently only provided for the passage of bills to be confirmed by way of motion. As for the retention of confirmation by motion in Rule 65, Mrs CHOW explained that since no draft bill had yet been presented to Members, it would be necessary to provide flexibility so that confirmation could be done in either way.

      17. Referring to the restrictions proposed in Rule 65, members were agreeable with the Working Group's proposal to specify that the second reading debate needed not be adjourned and the relevant bill be referred to the House Committee, so that all three readings of the bill could be done at the same Council meeting. Members also agreed that since the content of the bill would have been fully deliberated on in previous Council meetings, only minor and technical amendments would be allowed to be moved to the Bill by leave of the President.

      18. As for the proposed restriction on speaking time, Mr KAN Fook-yee considered that three minutes as proposed by the Working Group were too long as there was no way to restrict the number of Members speaking on the bill. He proposed to restrict Members' speaking time to one minute each and that Members should agree among themselves in advance as to who should be speaking so that the number of Members speaking would also be limited. Mrs CHOW explained that the Working Group had studied the issue in great depth. The three-minute proposal should be able to strike a right balance between the need to confirm bills within the shortest possible time and Members' right to speak on the bill. She added that any restriction on the number of Members speaking could only be achieved by a gentlemen's agreement. In this respect, the Chairman pointed out that under the present Rules of Procedure, the normal time limit for speaking on bills was 15 minutes and Members had more than one opportunity to speak on the bill.

      19. Mr Bruce LIU indicated that his party, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, would only speak on the bill through one of their party members.

      20. After deliberation, members voted on the Working Group's proposal to restrict Members' speaking time on the bill to three minutes. 36 members voted in favour of the proposal, two against and one in abstention. The proposal was supported by the Committee.

      21. Mrs Selina CHOW then briefed members on the Working Group's proposal to amend Rule 12 so that the Chief Executive would not be required to address the Council at its first meeting after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. She also drew members' attention to the consequential amendments to the related Rules.

      22. Members supported the Working Group's proposals.

    3. Group photo

    4. 23. The Chairman reminded members that a group photo would be taken after the Council meeting on 21 June 1997.
    VIII. Date of next meeting

    24. The Chairman reminded members that it would be likely that the next meeting of the House Committee would have to be held on Sunday, 22 June 1997, depending on the progress of work of the subcommittee to study the "Reunification" Bill. In response to a member's request, the Chairman agreed to put on the agenda of the next meeting a briefing on the logistics for 1 July 1997.

    25. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 5:20 p.m.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
16 June 1997