Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(1) 1338
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)


Panel on Housing and Panel on Transport

Minutes of joint meeting held on Tuesday, 17 March 1998, at 2:30 pm in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Panel on Housing

Hon CHAN Yuen-han (Chairman)
* Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
* Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
* Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
* Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
* Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP

Panel on Transport

Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Henry WU
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Members absent :

Panel on Housing

Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee (Deputy Chairman)
* Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
* Hon CHAN Choi-hi
* Hon CHENG Kai-nam
* Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
* Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Panel on Transport

Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung (Deputy Chairman)

(* also members of the Transport Panel)

Public officers attending :

Agenda item III only

Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (7)

Government Engineer (Railway Development)

Agenda items IV and V

Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing
(Project Management)

Government Engineer
(Infrastructure Co-ordinator)

Mr Johnny CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5)

Clerk in attendance :

Ms Estella CHAN, Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4

Staff in attendance :

Mr Andy LAU, Senior Assistant Secretary (1)6

I Election of Chairman

Members agreed that Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee should preside over the election of Chairman. Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee invited nominations for the chairmanship. Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee was nominated by Miss CHAN Yuen-han and seconded by Mr LEE Kai-ming and Mr Edward HO Sing-tin. Mrs LAU accepted the nomination.

2. There being no other nominations, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee was declared Chairman of the joint meeting.

II Confirmation of minutes of previous meeting
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)868)

3. The minutes of the joint meeting held on 15 December 1997 were confirmed.

III Extension of MTR Island Line to Western District
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)1108(01) - Information paper provided by the Transport Bureau

PLC Paper No. CB(1)1138(01) - An extract from the minutes of the Provisional Legislative Council Members' meeting with Central and Western Provisional District Board members on 20 November 1997)

4. The Chairman advised that at the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) Members' meeting with Central & Western Provisional District Board (C&WPDB) members on 20 November 1997, PLC Members shared C&WPDB members' concern about the need for the speedy extension of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Island Line to the Western District. The relevant minutes of the meeting were circulated to members for information prior to the meeting.

5. Recognizing the important role of railways in the transport system, members urged the Administration to speed up the extension of the rail system to major population centres. In view of the housing production target pledged by the Chief Executive and the growing population of Hong Kong, the Administration should accord higher priorities to such rail projects as the extension of the MTR Island Line to Western District and the East Kowloon Route from Diamond Hill to Hung Hom so as to provide relief for critical transport corridors and serve the transport needs of residents. They pointed out that the delay in these two projects had resulted in an upsurge of project costs to a great extent.

6. Some members criticized that the Administration had focused too much on the financial viability of a project and failed to respond to the transport needs of residents in the Western District. They did not agree that the extension of the existing MTR Island Line to Western District should be linked with the future development of the proposed Green Island Reclamation so as to make it financially viable.

7. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (7) (PAS for T (7)) responded that the construction costs for the full section of the West Hong Kong Island Line and the section between Sheung Wan and Kennedy Town were estimated to be $12 billion and $8 billion respectively. Given the resource constraints, the Government needed to set priorities in implementing the various rail proposals. In this regard, the Administration would review the previously recommended railway network expansion plan in the 1994 Railway Development Strategy (1994 RDS) including the West Hong Kong Island Line, and consider the need for new railway schemes in the light of the changing circumstances in the context of the Second Railway Development Study (RDS-2). They would also investigate the need and viability of constructing the West Hong Kong Island Line in phases from Sheung Wan to Kennedy Town first ahead of the Green Island Reclamation.

8. The Government Engineer (Railway Development) (GE/RD) added that the 1994 RDS had examined a number of possible options for the future development of Hong Kong's railway network. In the coming years, some $111 billion would be spent on the three priority railway projects thus identified. In view of the huge investment, there was a need to prioritize projects. The Government at the same time had also commenced planning of other rail projects under RDS-2.

9. As Members were given the understanding during the meeting with C&WPDB that as far as the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) was concerned, there was no technical and financial difficulty in constructing the extension to the Western District, some members queried why the MTRC, a company wholly owned by the Government, would hold different views from the Government on the same issue. They requested the Administration to strengthen its communication with the company. In response, PAS for T (7) said that whilst it was not appropriate for her to comment on MTRC's view as related by members, she would point out that Transport Bureau and MTRC were indeed performing two different functions. Transport Bureau was responsible for formulating the overall transport policy of Hong Kong, whereas MTRC was a statutory body responsible for the construction and operation of railway projects approved by the Chief Executive in Council. The Government was required to address such wider policy issues as the interface of a proposed railway line with the remaining transport systems in the territory and the priority of a proposal within the overall infrastructural programme of the Government.

10. Given that MTRC had already commissioned its own consultancy study and considered that the extension to Western District was financially and technically viable, a member queried why it was still necessary to commission RDS-2. PAS for T (7) remarked that the Administration had already explained the justifications for the commissioning of the study when the relevant proposal was put to the PLC for funding approval. To assist the Administration to proceed immediately with the planning of the more urgent railway projects, interim recommendations on the most urgent rail projects would be made at eight and twelve months respectively after the commencement of the study. In the course of the study, the railway corporations would be invited to take part in the discussions of its working groups.

11. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman urged the Administration to heed members' views. With the pledged housing production targets, the Administration should accord high priorities to the extension of the MTR Island Line to Western District and the East Kowloon Route from Diamond Hill to Hung Hom in the interim report of the RDS-2 in the light of the changed circumstances.

IV Progress of the development of the infrastructure for meeting the housing production target
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)1108(02) - Information paper provided by the Housing Bureau

PLC Paper No. CB(1)1108(03) - Information paper provided by the Works Bureau)

V Infrastructure programmes for housing sites in the next five years
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)1108(03))

12. As items IV and V were related to each other, members agreed to discuss both items concurrently.

13. In response to the Chairman, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing (PAS for Housing) advised that the housing production target of 85,000 units/year had not been changed and would remain a long term target of the Government.

14. Members were generally of the view that the information papers provided by the Administration did not contain sufficient information to enable them to monitor the progress of infrastructural development that were required to tie in with the Chief Executive's target of supplying 85,000 flats/year. They pointed out that instead of simply highlighting the on-going housing-related infrastructure projects in the annual Public Works Programme, the Administration should also provide further information on the additional housing sites and related infrastructure projects that were required for meeting the enhanced housing production target.

15. The Government Engineer (Infrastructure Co-ordinator) (GE/IC) advised that the Administration was in the final stage of compiling a programme of housing-related infrastructure (the "Programme"). Whilst the compilation and monitoring of the Programme was a continuous process, the Administration had to date identified 117 projects in the Public Works Programme as housing-related. However, the list could not be released for the time being, pending the endorsement of the Steering Committee on Land Supply for Housing (HOUSCOM). In this regard, he would seek the HOUSCOM's approval to release the relevant information to members. PAS for H added that of the 117 projects so identified, 61 had all along been classified as housing-related and the remaining 56 were newly added after a recent review. The Administration would monitor the progress of the Programme and incorporate new projects to the Programme where appropriate. He said that all these projects were for improvement/provision of transport infrastructure, water supplies, site formation, sewerage and sewage treatment facilities for housing developments.

16. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (5) added that the Administration would always review the infrastructure needed to meet the demand arising from the enhanced housing programme. To speed up the delivery process, various measures including legislative amendments as outlined in paragraph 5 of the information paper prepared by the Works Bureau had been implemented.

17. A member expressed concern about the progress of the associated infrastructure provision for meeting the housing target of building 141,000 public rental flats during the six-year planning period ending March 2001. GE/IC responded that in order to achieve the said target, the related works should have been started and were therefore not included in the monitoring list of the Programme. PAS for Housing added that he would check the latest position of the projects concerned and report to members after the meeting.

18. After deliberation, members requested the Administration to provide the following information for reference as soon as possible: Admin

  1. in respect of the housing production target of 85,000 residential units/year, a list of the housing sites and related infrastructure projects identified, giving details on the location, status and development progress of each item and including a timeline chart; and

  2. the progress of the associated infrastructure provision required for meeting the housing target of building 141,000 public rental flats during the six-year planning period ending March 2001 and whether housing sites could be made available to the Hong Kong Housing Authority by March 1998 in order to allow its necessary construction works to proceed in time for meeting the pledged housing target.

19. In concluding the discussion, members urged the Administration to ensure timely provision of the required infrastructure and to speed up the related processes so as to tie in with the housing developments. Members also agreed to request the first Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to continue the monitoring of the progress of the infrastructural development for meeting the Government's pledged housing targets.

VI Any other business

20. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 3:30 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
3 June 1998