PLC Paper No. CB(1) 1058
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
on 6 March 1998
Report of the Bills Committee on Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1998,
Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) (Amendment) Bill 1998 and Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998
1.This paper reports on the deliberations of the Bills Committee on Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1998, the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) (Amendment) Bill 1998 and the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998 (the Bills).
2.The Bills share a common objective of setting a statutory time limit of nine months for dealing with objections under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 370), the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) Ordinance (Cap. 127) and the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131). The proposed amendments follow the statutory time limit for dealing with objections in the Railways Ordinance (59 of 1997). All three Bills propose transitional provisions for road schemes, reclamation proposals or draft plans promulgated prior to the commencement of the Bills.
3.The Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998 additionally provides for complementary measures to enable the Town Planning Board (TPB) to resolve objections within the proposed statutory time limit as follows:
The Bills Committee
- to empower TPB to set up Committees from among its members to hear objections either individually or collectively; and
- to allow TPB to proceed with any such hearing even if the objector or his authorized representative choose not to attend.
4.At the meeting of the House Committee on 23 January 1998, Members agreed that a Bills Committee should be formed to study the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1998 and the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) (Amendment) Bill 1998. At its subsequent meeting on 13 February 1998, the House Committee also decided that the same Bills Committee should also study the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998. Hon YUEN Mo and Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai were elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Bills Committee respectively. The membership list of the Bills Committee is at Appendix I.
5.The Bills Committee held two meetings with the Administration and met with deputations at one of the meetings. The list of organizations which have made submissions and/or met with the Bills Committee is at Appendix II.
Deliberations of the Bills Committee
6.During the course of its study of the three Bills, the Bills Committee was particularly concerned about the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998. Members noted that the proposal to empower TPB to appoint committees among its members to hear objections under relevant sections of the Town Planning Ordinance had been proposed in the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1995. The Bills Committee set up to study the 1995 Bill was of the view that without any undertaking by the Administration to introduce legislative measures before July 1996 to address the concern about fairness, particularly in relation to the composition and operational procedures of objection hearing committees, it could not support the proposal. The proposal was subsequently voted down at the Second Reading debate on 24 April 1996.
7.In July 1996, the Administration issued a Town Planning White Bill to consult the public on how the Town Planning Ordinance should be overhauled. According to the Administration, public views collected on the White Bill were diverse and on some issues conflicting, but there was widespread support for the proposed nine month statutory time limit on dealing with objections to draft plans. As the proposed statutory time limit would greatly improve the efficiency of the plan-making system, which is essential to the timely delivery of major infrastructural development throughout the territory, and facilitate the economic development of Hong Kong, the Administration has introduced the present Bill which only deals with the time limit pending final decisions on the overhaul of the existing system.
8.The Bills Committee observes that the proposal to empower TPB to set up committees from among its members to hear objections would only address the issue of efficiency. The issue of fairness would remain unresolved, for as evident in the quorum of the committees where three members could make a decision on behalf of the 32 members of TPB. Although section 6(3) of the Town Planning Ordinance has provided the safeguard that TPB would give preliminary consideration to all objections before deciding on whether to set up committees to deal with the objections, the credibility of a decision made by a committee with a 3-member quorum is still doubtful. In response to the request of members, the Administration undertakes to submit proposals as soon as possible to revamp the Town Planning Ordinance in order to make comprehensive improvements to the planning process. The Administration will also make public the diverse views collected during the consultation on the Town Planning White Bill after completion of the detailed study on the views collected.
9.As to whether nine months would be sufficient for resolving all the objections, the Bills Committee takes note of the fact that most of the objection cases in the past were resolved within nine months. The Administration assures that under exceptional circumstances, the Chief Executive in Council may allow a further period for dealing with complicated objection cases after the expiration of the nine month period. Since the circumstances under which an extension of the period can be granted are not specified, members are concerned that this open-ended provision may defeat the purpose of the Bills and suggest that the extension period as may be allowed by the Chief Executive in Council should be restricted to six months. In fact, the provision to limit the extension period to six months was originally proposed in the Town Planning White Bill. The Administration accepts members suggestion and agrees to move appropriate amendments to the Bills at the Committee stage.
Committee stage amendments
10.The draft Committee stage amendments (CSAs) proposed by the Administration mentioned in paragraph 9 above are in Appendix III, which also include other drafting and technical amendments to the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998.
11.Noting that all deputations have not raised any objection to the principle of the Bills, members of the Bills Committee conclude that the three Bills are generally supported by the community. The Bills Committee therefore supports the three Bills, subject to the CSAs to be moved by the Administration being in order, and recommends that Second Reading debate on the Bills be resumed.
12.Members are invited to note the deliberations of the Bills Committee and support the recommendation at paragraph 11 above.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
3 March 1998
Bills Committee on Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 1998, Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) (Amendment) Bill 1998 and Town Planning (Amendment) Bill 1998
|Hon YUEN Mo (Chairman)
|Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP (Deputy Chairman)
|Hon HO Sai-Chu, JP
|Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
|Hon LEE Kai-ming
|Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
|Hon MA Fung-kwok
|Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
|Hon IP Kwok-him
|Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
|Hon KAN Fook-yee
|Hon CHOY So-yuk
|Total: 12 Members
|Date: 19 February 1998
List of organizations which have made submissions and/or met with the Bills Committee
Hong Kong Institute of Architects
Hong Kong Institute of Planners
The Law Society of Hong Kong
Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
2 March 1998