PLC Paper No. LS 91

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Provisional Legislative Council
on 13 February 1998

Legal Service Division Report on
Merchant Shipping (Registration) (Amendment) Bill 1998

Object of the Bill

To amend the Merchant Shipping (Registration) Ordinance (Cap. 415) (the Ordinance) so as to require ships registered in Hong Kong to fly the national flag of the People Republic of China directly above the HKSAR regional flag when entering or leaving any port.

PLC Brief Reference 2.ESB CR 8/3231/91(98) VIII issued by the Economic Services Bureau dated 26 January 1998.

Date of First Reading

3.11 February 1998.


4.Under section 37 of the Ordinance, ships registered in Hong Kong are required to fly the proper colours as specified in Schedule 1 to the Ordinance when entering and leaving any port. To reflect the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People Republic of China, it is necessary to amend the Schedule to stipulate the new proper colours, i.e. the national flag of the People Republic of China as well as the regional flag as respectively specified in the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance (116 of 1997) and the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance (117 of 1997).

5.Apart from amending Schedule 1, a new section 2A is also added to empower the Director of Marine to exempt Hong Kong registered ships from flying the proper colours. According to the Brief, this power may be exercised in relation to ships calling at ports in Taiwan so that shipping link between the HKSAR and Taiwan could be maintained.

6.Clause 2(2) of the Bill provides that the Bill, if enacted, would be deemed to have come into operation on 1 July 1997. This retrospective effect is, however, subject to article 12 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, i.e. no one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence at the time when it was committed. In other words, no master of a Hong Kong registered ship may be held guilty of a criminal offence for not flying the proper colours as defined in this Bill when entering and leaving any port for the past seven months or so.

Public Consultation

7.The PLC Brief did not mention whether public consultation has been conducted.

Consultation with PLC Panel

8.No consultation with any PLC Panel has been carried out.

Conclusion 9.The drafting aspect of the Bill is in order. Subject to members�views, the Bill is ready for resumption of the Second Reading Debate.

Prepared by

HO Ying-chu, Anita
Assistant Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
9 February 1998