PLC Paper No. LS 37

Paper for the House Committee Meeting of the
Provisional Legislative Council
on 17 October 1997

Legal Service Division Report on a motion under section 2(3) of the Legislative Provisions (Suspension of Operation) Ordinance 1997 (126 of 1997)

The Secretary for Home Affairs has given notice to move the above motion at the meeting of the Council on 29 October 1997.

2.Members will recall that in July 1997, the Legislative Provisions (Suspension of Operation) Ordinance 1997 (126 of 1997) (the Ordinance) was enacted suspending, among other things, the operation of the amendments made by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (107 of 1997) to its principal ordinance.

3.The amendments seek to clarify that the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap. 383) applies to all legislation, whether affecting legal relations between the Government, public authorities and private persons or only affecting relations between private persons.

4.The suspension will cease to have effect on 31 October 1997, unless it is extended by resolution of the Council under section 2(3) of the Ordinance. The motion now proposes that the period of suspension be extended to 31 January 1998.

5.When the suspension was first proposed to the Council in July, the Administration expressed concern that the amendments had introduced uncertainty and confusion into the law. Therefore, the Administration had found it necessary to analyse the legal issues thoroughly before deciding on the way forward. In the draft speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs to move the resolution, the same concern is repeated. The Administration further indicates that it has been discussing the implications of the amendments with the Law Society and the Hong Kong Bar Association. The proposed extension is sought to allow more time for the Administration to examine the technical and complex views on the implications of those amendments against the concern over the uncertainty of the amendments.

6.The legal and drafting aspects of the draft resolution are in order.

Prepared by

CHEUNG Ping-kam, Arthur
Assistant Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
14 October 1997