Provisional Legislative Council

Panel on Constitutional Affairs

1998 Legislative Council Election : Election Expenses Limits


This paper sets out the Administration's preliminary proposals on the limits of election expenses for the first HKSAR Legislative Council ( " LegCo " ) election and the elections of Election Committee members ( " EC sub-sector elections') to be held in 1998. Members' views on the Administration's preliminary proposals as set out in Annex A are welcome.


2.The control of election funding in Hong Kong lies with the limit in which a candidate standing for election may spend on his electioneering activities. Section 13(1) of the Corrupt & Illegal Practices Ordinance ( " CIPO " ), Cap. 288 empowers the Chief Executive in Council to prescribe the limit of election expenses which may be incurred by or on behalf of a candidate running for election to the EC or a seat in the LegCo.

3.The setting of election expenses limit is to allow all candidates to compete on an equal footing in an election. The limit does not restrict the way in which a candidate runs his campaign. Candidates are free to spend as much or as little as they like, provided they stay within the prescribed limit. The election expenses limits for the 1995 LegCo election are set out in Annex B.

Preliminary Proposals

I.Geographical Constituencies (GCs)

4.We need to consider how the election expenses limits are to be applied in the light of the introduction of the List system in the LegCo geographical elections. In the past, the limits were set against individual candidates. However, under the List system, competition in an election would be among different lists of candidates rather than among the individual candidates. Likewise, electioneering activities would be conducted on the basis of the lists instead of individual candidates. Therefore, there should be a limit for the total expenditure for a list.

5.The election expenses limit in respect of a single-seat GC in the 1995 LegCo election was $200,000. In setting the limits for lists of candidates in the LegCo geographical elections in 1998, we need to take into account the fact that the population size and the geographical area to be covered by a GC in 1998 will be much larger than before. The substantial increase in the population and geographical size of GCs would mean that candidates would need to deploy much more resources in order to mount an effective campaign. Likewise, in the light of the changes in the electoral system, allowances for additional spending need to be factored in to enable candidates to carry out a wider variety of and more sophisticated electioneering activities. Inflation since the last LegCo election should also be taken into account. In this connection, it should also be noted that the government has started a massive voter registration campaign to enable all eligible persons to register as electors. We will conduct a comprehensive household visits to knock on every door. Our objective is to get as many eligible persons registered as possible, and we aim to increase the number of electors substantially. In other words, the candidates will have to reach out to a much larger number of electors than before. Having considered all these factors, we consider that it is reasonable to set the election expenses limit for each list as follows -

  1. $1,500,000 for a 3-seat constituency;

  2. $2,000,000 for a 4-seat constituency; and

  3. $2,500,000 for a 5-seat constituency.

6.We have considered whether there should be different limits on total expenditure for different lists if they have different numbers of candidates. In this regard, it should be noted that in a constituency, each list would be facing the same electorate in terms of number and geographical spread, irrespective of the number of candidates on the list. To provide an even basis for all lists, they should be allowed to incur the same amount of election expenses to promote their election. Therefore, it is proposed that all lists in the same constituency should be subject to the same election expenses limit.

7.Under the statutory framework of CIPO, there must also be a limit of election expenses which applies to individual candidates. Under the List system, each candidate on a list would be subject to the same election expenses limit which applies to the list, provided that the total expenditure of the candidates on the same list cannot exceed the limit for the list. A note on individual expenses limit is set out in Annex C.

II.Functional Constituencies (FCs)

8.A four-tier system was adopted in 1995 and the election expenses limits were set by reference to the number of registered electors in a FC. We propose to adopt a similar system for the 1998 elections, with some adjustments to the differentiation of electorate size between the different tiers. The dollar value of the election expenses limit in respect of each of the four tiers has been set to reflect the difference in electorate size, to make allowance for a wider variety of and more sophisticated electioneering activities by candidates and to take into account inflation. We propose that the four tiers of election expenses limits for the LegCo FC elections in 1998 should be as follows : $100,000 for the first tier, $160,000 for the second tier, $320,000 for the third tier, and $480,000 for the fourth tier. (Please see Annex A for details on the four tiers for FCs.)

9.Among the new FCs to be introduced in 1998, three of them (Agriculture and Fisheries, Insurance, and Transport) have potential electorate size of less than 300. It is proposed that these three new FCs should be grouped in the first tier which comprises the " designated " FCs (i.e. the Urban Council, Regional Council and Heung Yee Kuk FCs). For the remaining five new FCs, they would fall within the other tiers on the basis of the number of registered electors in these FCs.

III.Election Committee (EC)

10.In 1995, the election expenses limit for the EC, which consisted of 283 DB members, was the same as the " designated " FCs in the first tier. Given that the electorate size of the EC for 1998 will be larger - it will be made up of 800 members from different sectors, we propose that the election expenses limit for the 1998 EC should be pegged at the second tier for FCs i.e. $160,000.

IV.EC Sub-sectors

11.Most of the EC sub-sectors are based on FCs. Since the candidates in an EC sub-sector election will be facing the same electors as the candidates in the election of the corresponding FC, there should be no difference in the amount of resources required to conduct their campaigns. Therefore, we propose that the EC sub-sectors should adopt the same four-tier system of election expenses limits as applied to the FCs.

12.Among those EC sub-sectors which do not have a corresponding FC, some of them have very small potential electorate size of less than 300. They are the sub-sectors for Hotel, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Urban Provisional District Boards and NT Provisional District Boards respectively. It is proposed that they should be grouped in the first tier (i.e. $100,000). The other sub-sectors would fall within the other tiers on the basis of the number of registered electors in these sub-sectors.


13.In view of the tight election timetable and the need to make early announcement of the detailed rules for the elections next year, a decision on the subject matter is expected to be made before the end of 1997.

Constitutional Affairs Bureau
22 November 1997


Annex A

Preliminary Proposals for Election Expenses Limits for the 1998 Legislative Council Election and the EC Sub-sector Elections

ConstituencyProposal ($)
Geographical Constituency

(i) 3-seat constituency

(ii) 4-seat constituency

(iii) 5-seat constituency

Functional Constituency

(i) "designated " FCs*

(ii) not more than 5,000 registered electors (excluding (i))

(iii) between 5,001 and 10,000 registered electors

(iv) over 10,000 registered electors

Election Committee

Election Committee sub-sectors

(i) " designated " sub-sectors#

(ii) not more than 5,000 registered voters (excluding (i))

(iii) between 5,001 and 10,000 registered voters

(iv) over 10,000 registered voters


* They are the Urban Council, Regional Council, Heung Yee Kuk (i.e. Rural), Agriculture and Fisheries, Insurance, and Transport FCs.

# They are the Agriculture and Fisheries, Insurance, Transport, Hotel, CPPCC, Heung Yee Kuk, Urban Provisional District Boards and NT Provisional District Boards sub-sectors.

Annex B

Election Expenses Limits for the 1995 Legislative Council Elections

Geographical Constituency

Functional Constituency*
(i) "designated " FCs #

(ii) not more than 5,000 registered electors (excluding (i))

(iii) between 5,001 and 15,000 registered electors

(iv) over 15,000 registered electors

Election Committee$50,000

* This refers to the functional constituencies in the 1995 Legislative Council which are retained for the 1998 Legislative Council.

# They were the Urban Council, Regional Council and Rural FCs.


Annex C

Election Expenses Limit as applied to Individual Candidates on a List

Election expenses under the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Ordinance (CIPO) include expenses incurred by a candidate or by any other person on the candidate*s behalf for the conduct or management of an election or for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of that candidate at that election. Under the List system, this means that election expenses in respect of one candidate on a list would have to be counted as election expenses for each and every candidate on that list. Therefore, the limit for a candidate on a list would be the effective limit for the entire list.

2.Under the CIPO, no candidate shall incur election expenses in excess of the statutory limit. At the same time, no other person shall incur any election expenses without the written authorisation of a candidate, and such person shall not incur election expenses in excess of the amount specified in his authorisation. Spending in excess of the statutory limit of election expenses or the authorised amount (as the case may be) would be liable to an illegal practice under the CIPO.

3.The combined effect of the statutory requirements mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2 above is that once a list is formed, a candidate on the list or his agent must obtain a written authorisation from all the other candidates on that list before they can incur any election expenses. The authorisation shall have to be made in accordance with regulations made by the Electoral Affairs Commission (the Commission), and the appointment and conduct of the candidates' agents are to be regulated by way of regulations and guidelines to be made by the Commission (Note).

4.Our initial thinking is that the Commission will specify a form of written authorisation in respect of a list which must be signed by all the candidates on the list and that it should contain certain basic information. For example, in the case of a four-candidate list in a four-seat constituency, the following information should be provided in the authorisation -

Particulars of candidates Amount of election expenses alreadyincurred before formation of the list(Column 3)
(Column 1)

(Column 3)

Candidate A$A
Candidate B$B
Candidate C$C
Candidate D$D

Particulars of personsauthorised to incur election expenses(such persons could bethe candidates themselvesand/or their agents) Amount to be authorised
(Column 2)

(Column 4)

Candidate A$AA
Candidate B$BB
Candidate C$CC
Candidate D


Agents of candidates
Agent E (of Candidate A)$EE
Agent F (of Candidate A)$FF
Agent G (of Candidate B)$GG
Agent H (of Candidate B)$HH
Agent I (of Candidate C)$II
Agent J (of Candidate D)$JJ

The sum total of the figures in columns 3 and 4 must not exceed the relevant election expenses limit, which is proposed to be $2 million for a four-seat constituency.

5.Candidates are required to submit a detailed return of election expenses after the election. It would be for the individual candidates to ensure that a proper account was kept. A candidate who recklessly or deliberately incurred or authorised payment of election expenses in excess of the relevant limit would be guilty of an offence under CIPO.

(Note : Election expenses incurred by a candidate before formation of the list would be counted against himself.)

22 November 1997