PLC Paper No. CB(2) 519
Ref : PLC/HC/4

House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the 23rd meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber at 4:30 pm on Friday, 31 October 1997

Members present :

    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
    Hon IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon WONG Siu-yee
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, 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 Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
    Hon Henry WU
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon YUEN Mo
    Hon MA Fung-kwok
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
    Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
    Hon CHAN Choi-hi
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
    Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    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 TAM Yiu-chung, JP
    Hon CHOY So-yuk

Members absent :

    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
    Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
    Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
    Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon TSANG Yok-sing
    Hon CHENG Kai-nam
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    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 LAW Kam-sang, JP
Deputy Secretary General
Mr LEE Yu-sang
Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1
Assistant Secretary General 3
Mr Stephen LAM
Assistant Legal Adviser 4
Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
Ms Kathleen LAU
Chief Public Information Officer
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

I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 22nd meeting held on 24 October 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 492)

1. The minutes were confirmed.

II. Matters arising

Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration

(a) Introduction of subsidiary legislation into Council

2. The Chairman informed members that he had written to the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) requesting the Administration to introduce subsidiary legislation, which was intended to be scrutinized by the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC), as soon as possible. The Administration was also requested to ensure that those items of subsidiary legislation that were to be made in April 1998 should come into force after July 1998, so as to allow time for the first SAR Legislative Council to scrutinize them. The Chairman said that CS had undertaken to ask policy bureaux to abide by those dates as far as possible.

(b) Introduction of bills into Council

3. The Chairman said that he had again reminded CS of the need to introduce as soon as possible the remaining 15 bills on the list of bills to be dealt with by the PLC, in particular the Town Planning Bill which involved controversial and complex issues. CS said that the Town Planning Bill would be introduced in December 1997, if not earlier.

(c) Delay in presenting papers to Panels by the Administration

4. The Chairman said that he had conveyed to CS members�concern over the Administration delay in presenting papers to PLC Panels. CS had reminded policy bureaux to present papers as early as possible.

5. The Chairman further said that members on their part should avoid changing meeting dates as far as possible. He added that re-scheduling a meeting to an earlier date or scheduling a meeting at short notice might result in the Administration not being able to send relevant papers to the Secretariat reasonably in advance, thus leaving Panel members with insufficient time to study the papers before the meeting concerned.

III. Business arising from previous Council meetings

(a) Legal Service Division report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 1997

(PLC Paper No. LS 41)

6. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 1997 sought to introduce only technical amendments to the Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance 1997 (71 of 1997). The Bill did not involve new policy issues and both the drafting and legal aspects of the Bill were in order.

7. Members agreed that the debate on Second Reading of the Bill be resumed.

(b) Legal Service Division report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 29 October 1997 (gazetted on 24 October 1997)
(PLC Paper No. LS 42)

8. Referring to the 12 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 24 October 1997, the Chairman drew members�attention to the two items relating to the Amendment Order and Amendment of Schedule 2 Notice made under the Employees�Compensation Insurance Levies Ordinance (Cap. 411). The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the subsidiary legislation was to increase the rate of the levy payable on the insurance premium on all employees�compensation insurance policies which employers were required to take out under the Employees�Compensation Ordinance from 3.5% to 4.5%. The 1% increase would be apportioned to the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC) to enable the OSHC to sustain an expanded programme of activities whilst maintaining a healthy financial position in the foreseeable future.

9. The Legal Adviser also drew members�attention to the 0.8% increase in the levy rate to the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board (ODCB) as proposed in the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997 which was currently under scrutiny by a Bills Committee. If the proposed levy increases for the OSHC and ODCB were approved, it would increase the Employees�Compensation Insurance Levy rate from the existing 3.5% to 5.3%.

10. The Chairman expressed concern about the approach adopted by the Administration of presenting two separate legislative proposals, both dealing with increase in the Employees�Compensation Insurance Levy rate, for members�approval. He invited members�views on whether the two proposals should be examined together.

11. Mr LEE Kai-ming said that the increase by 1% in the levy rate to the OSHC was proposed following consultation with the Labour Advisory Board (LAB). It was essential for the increase to take effect on 1 January 1998, otherwise the OSHC would not have sufficient resources to expand its programme of activities to promote occupational safety and health in the next financial year.

12. Mr James TIEN said that he supported the 1% increase in the levy rate to the OSHC. However, he was concerned about the financial viability of the ODCB which might not have sufficient funds at its disposal to meet increased compensation following the enactment of the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997.

13. Mr LEE Kai-ming said that the accumulated reserve of the ODCB would be depleted in three years�time if there was no increase in its levy income. The 0.8% increase in the levy rate to the ODCB as proposed in the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997 was intended to enable the ODCB to have sufficient resources to meet its commitments. He added that the proposed increase had been endorsed by the LAB.

14. In response to the Chairman, the Legal Adviser said that the two legislative proposals dealing with the increase in the levy rate to the OSHC and ODCB could be examined separately from the legal point of view. However, it would be up to members to decide whether they wished to examine the policy aspects of the two proposals together.

15. After further discussion, members agreed that the two items of subsidiary legislation relating to the increase in levy rate to the OSHC should be supported. They also agreed that the proposal to increase the levy rate to the ODCB should be examined by the Bills Committee currently studying the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997. CAS(2)4

16. Members raised no queries on the other ten items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 24 October 1997.

IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 5 November 1997

(a) Bill - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading

Employment (Amendment) (No. 5) Bill 1997

17. The Chairman said that the Secretary for Education and Manpower had agreed to members�request that the resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill be deferred to 5 November 1997.

(b) Resolution under section 29I(2) of the Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117) - to be moved by the Secretary for the Treasury

18. The Chairman said that the Subcommittee at its meeting on 30 October 1997 had requested the Administration to provide additional information. A further meeting would be held on 11 November 1997 to consider the issues involved. The Secretary for the Treasury had withdrawn the notice for moving the resolution on 5 November 1997.

V. Business for the Council meeting on 12 November 1997

(a) Questions
(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 298)

19. The Chairman said that 20 questions (6 oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

20. Mr Edward HO said that Question Nos. 2 and 3 in the original PLC Paper No. CB(3) 298 covered the same subject matter. He asked whether the Secretariat would normally vet the wording of questions prior to issuing them to Members.

21. Assistant Secretary General 3 said that the scheduling of questions to be asked at a Council meeting was determined according to a queuing system. The original paper, which set out the 20 questions scheduled for the Council meeting on 12 November 1997, was issued on 29 October 1997 for members�information together with other House Committee papers for the meeting on 31 October 1997. The 20 questions were in their original wording as submitted for registration by the Members concerned. Changes to the wording or the subject matter of a question could be made before the deadline for giving formal notice expired on Monday, 3 November 1997.

22. Referring to the two questions cited by Mr HO, Assistant Secretary General 3 added that the Secretariat had in fact approached the Members concerned prior to the issue of the original paper. Subsequently, one Member withdrew his question and the other Member submitted a new question in place of his original one. The changes, together with other amendments made since the issue of the original paper, were set out in the revised paper tabled at the meeting.

23. The Chairman said that the information given in the original paper showed the position as at the date of issue of the paper and was subject to changes, if any, made before the deadline for giving formal notice expired.

(b) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings

24. No notice had been received.

(c) Bills - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading

25. No notice had been received.

(d) Members�motions

(i) Motion on ecruiting native English-speaking teachers for Hong Kong schools�

26. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Hon Elsie TU.

(ii) Motion on 孏he Buildings Safety Inspection Scheme�/B>

27. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Hon TSANG Yok-shing.

28. The Chairman advised members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the motions was 5 November 1997. The normal speaking time limits would apply.

VI. Advance information on motions for the Council meeting on 19 November 1997

(a) Resolution under section 12 of the Trading Funds Ordinance (Cap. 430) - to be moved by the Secretary for the Treasury

29. Members noted that the Secretary for the Treasury had given notice of his intention to move, at the Council meeting on 19 November 1997, a resolution seeking to close the Sewage Services Trading Fund on 31 March 1998.

(b) Members�motions

(i) Motion on educing emission and waste�/B>

30. Members noted that Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin had given notice to move the above motion.

(ii) Motion on ncreases of bus fares�/B>

31. Members noted that Mr CHEUNG Hon-chung had given notice to move the above motion.

32. The Chairman said that the deadlines for giving notice of, and amendment to, the above motions were 4 November 1997 and 12 November 1997 respectively.

VII. Reports

(a) Position report on Bills Committees/Subcommittees
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 494)

33. The Chairman said that there were four Subcommittees and one Bills Committee in action.

(b) Report of the Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation gazetted on 9 October 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(1) 418)

34. Referring to the paper, Mr Edward HO said that the Subcommittee had held one meeting with the Administration at which the Administration had provided clarification on the principles adopted in prescribing the fees payable under the Environmental Impact Assessment (Fees) Regulation. The Administration had also undertaken to review the fees one year after the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance had come into operation. In the light of the explanation given by the Administration, the Subcommittee recommended that the Environmental Impact Assessment (Fees) Regulation be supported.

35. The Subcommittee also recommended that the other three items of subsidiary legislation involving fee increases made under the Companies Ordinance and the Limited Partnerships Ordinance be supported.

VIII. Any other business

Motion passed by the Panel on Welfare Services
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 501)

36. Mr WONG Siu-yee introduced the paper and sought members�support of the motion on additional Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payment for the elderly passed by the Panel on Welfare Services on 21 October 1997. Members agreed to support the motion.

37. The meeting ended at 5:00 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
5 November 1997

Last Updated on 5 November 1997