Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. CB(2)142
Ref : PLC/WG/02

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
on 22 August 1997

Consultation Paper
on the proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure
recommended by the Working Group on Rules of Procedure

Purpose

This paper invites views from the House Committee on the recommendations of the Working Group on Rules of Procedure (the Working Group) to amend certain provisions in the Rules of Procedure. Subject to Members�views on this paper, Hon Mrs CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, Selina, Convenor of the Working Group, would move two motions at the Council meeting to be held on 10 September 1997 to:

  1. amend the Rules of Procedure; and
  2. dissolve the Working Group on Rules of Procedure upon the provision of a Committee on Rules of Procedure in the amended Rules of Procedure.

Background

2. On 12 April 1997, the Council adopted its Rules of Procedure. Hon Mrs CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, Selina, when addressing the Council on her motion to adopt the Rules of Procedure, reported that certain areas in the Rules of Procedure required further review. Since then, the Working Group has met and deliberated on these areas and other matters, and has recommended a number of amendments. The more urgent amendments, being those in relation to the proceedings of the first few meetings of the Council after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and those relating to the formation of Panels, were adopted by the Council at its meetings held on 21 June 1997 and 16 July 1997 respectively.

3. The Working Group now seeks to recommend other amendments to the Rules of Procedure, in light of the experience of the Council after the Rules of procedure have been in use and after taking into account the views expressed by Members during the several rounds of consultation on specific subjects.

Summary of the Working Group recommendations
Rule 2 (Language)

4. Rule 2(3) and (4) stipulates that a petition in the Chinese or English language should be accompanied by a translation certified to be correct by a court translator. In considering whether a petition should be accompanied by such a translation, the Working Group made reference to Article 9 of the Basic Law, which reads : n addition to the Chinese language, English may also be used as an official language by the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region� The Working Group notes that the Basic Law has not laid down any requirement for both the Chinese and English languages to be used in respect of an official document. It is therefore logical and reasonable to expect that a person would endeavour to spell out his case clearly in writing in his petition and to ensure the accuracy of any translation if the translation is necessary to advance his case. The Working Group concludes that these two subrules are superfluous and recommends their deletion from the Rules of Procedure.

Rule 4 (Election of President) 5. According to the practices in the former legislative Council, the procedure for the re-election of President was determined by the House Committee and provided in the House Rules. The procedure has not been included in the Rules of Procedure of the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) as the House Committee was not yet in place at the time the Rules of Procedure were first endorsed. When the House Committee of the PLC endorsed the House Rules on 8 May 1997, the procedure for the re-election of the President was also endorsed. The Working Group considers that the procedure relating to the re-election of the President should come under the Rules of Procedure of the Council instead of the House Rules which are determined by the House Committee. It proposes that a schedule setting out the re-election procedure be included in the Rules of Procedure.

Rule 7 (Counsel to the Legislature)

6. To ensure consistency in the use of terminology, the Working Group recommends replacing the term 懀he Legislature�by 懀he Provisional Legislative Council� The Chinese text is also slightly re-written to make the text easier to read.

Rule 9 (Attendance of Public Officers)

7. Rule 9 provides for designated public officers attending meetings of the Council, committees of the whole Council, the Finance Committee or subcommittees of the Finance Committee. The Working Group recommends that a subrule should be added to allow public officers to be invited to meetings of other committees or subcommittees of the Provisional Legislative Council.

Rule 18 (Order of Business at a Meeting)

8. The proposed amendment is to spell out more clearly the order of sequence at a Council meeting for the presentation of reports by the committees of the Council, including Panels, Bills Committees, Public Accounts Committee, Select Committees, etc.

Rule 42 (Behaviour of Members not Speaking)

9. The Working Group considers it appropriate to include a reference to the attire of Members when entering or leaving a meeting of the Council as a reflection of Members�respect for the solemnity of the proceedings of the Council.

Rule 70 (Amendments to Heads of Estimates in Committee of the Whole Council on Appropriation Bill)

10. The Working Group recommends minor editorial changes in the Chinese text of the Rules of Procedure to the phrase �increased)(decreased)�in subrule (10) to make the meaning clearer and to be consistent with the English text.

Rule 74A (Committee on Rules of Procedure)

11. The Working Group consulted Members vide PLC Paper No. 159/96-97 (issued under cover of PLC Paper No. 179/96-97) in early May 1997 on the future of the Working Group: whether it should become a committee of the Council or a subcommittee of the House Committee. The views received from Members were equally divided. After further deliberation, the Working Group concluded that there should be one central committee to deal with all matters relating to the procedural rules of the Council and a committee set up under the Council should be more appropriate.

12. A new Rule 74A is therefore proposed for the provision of a Committee on Rules of Procedure. The procedure relating to the formation of the Committee is largely modelled on other standing committees of the Council, such as the Committee on Members�Interest and the Public Accounts Committee.

Rule 73 (Public Accounts Committee) Rule 74 (Committee on Members�Interests) Rule 78 (Select Committees) Rule 79 (Procedure of Select Committees)

13. The Working Group made reference to the arrangement of the then Hong Kong Legislative Council and considers that there are merits in providing for the appointment of a Deputy Chairman for the Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Members�Interests and select committees in the relevant Rules respectively to stand in and take up the duties of their respective Chairman in his absence or when necessary.

Rule 81 (Premature Publication of Evidence)

14. The Working Group recommends that Rule 81 should provide for sanctions against any Member disclosing evidence collected from the proceedings of a meeting of a select committee prematurely. The Working Group made reference to Rule 85 (Sanctions relating to Interests) and recommends that the appropriate sanction for premature publication of evidence could be either admonishment or reprimand by the Council on a motion to that effect.

Rule 82 (Employment of Members in Professional Capacity)

15. The Working Group considers that the restriction spelt out in Rule 82 applies to a Member of any professional capacity rather than just the legal practitioners. The Working Group therefore recommends the use of more generalised reference by replacing the term 弌 legal practitioner�by n a professional capacity� The Working Group also recommends that the Chinese term � in the Rule should be replaced by 敫纗S�in order to reflect more accurately the purpose of the Rule.

Other editorial changes to Rules 10, 29, 74 and 85

16. There are some other minor editorial changes to Rules 10, 29, 84 and 85.

17. The Working Group has also reviewed other Rules, including Rules 3(4), 17(4), 20(6), 21, 36, 37, 38, 46(1), 51, 54, 72, 83, 84, 87 and 88 but does not recommend any changes.

18. A set of the relevant original Rules, marked with the proposed amendments, is given at the Appendix for Members�reference.

Dissolution of the Working Group

19. The Working Group considers that upon the endorsement of new Rule 74A on the Committee on Rules of Procedure by the Council, the Working Group should be dissolved. All matters currently dealt with by the Working Group will be taken over by the new Committee, the membership of which would be discussed by the House Committee and put to the President for consideration by mid-September 1997.

Advice sought

20. Members are invited to express views on the Working Group proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
14 August 1997


Last Udpated on 24 October 1997