LC Paper No. CB(1) 1744/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/14/98/2
Bills Committee onMembers present :
Shipping and Port Control (Amendment) Bill 1999
Minutes of the first meeting
held on Saturday, 10 July 1999 at 9:00 am
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building
Hon HUI Cheung-ching (Chairman)
Hon LEE Kai-ming, SBS, JP
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JPMembers absent :
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon SIN Chung-kaiPublic officers attending :
Clerk in attendance :
- Mr Richard YUEN
- Deputy Secretary for Economic Services
- Mr M C TSANG
- Deputy Director of Marine
- Mr K M VARGHESE
- Assistant Director of Marine
- Mr Peter KWOK
- Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
- Mr S W BUT
- Shipping Safety Officer
- Ms Carmen CHU
- Senior Government Counsel
Staff in attendance :
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5
I. Election of Chairman
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Mr Matthew LOO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (1)7
Mr LEE Kai-ming, the member who had the highest precedence among the Members on the membership list of the Bills Committee, presided at the election of the Chairman. Mr HUI Cheung-ching was nominated by Dr TANG Siu-tong, and the nomination was seconded by Mrs Miriam LAU. Mr HUI was elected Chairman.
II. Meeting with the Administration
Briefing by the Administration
2. At the Chairman's invitation, Deputy Secretary for Economic Services (DSES) briefed members on the background and main objectives of the Shipping and Port Control (Amendment) Bill 1999 (the Bill). He pointed out that at present, Part V of the Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (Cap. 313) (the principal Ordinance) provided for safety protection of persons engaged in cargo handling, ship repairs and ship-breaking work. However, the existing legislative provisions did not cover marine construction work. Moreover, the growth in container handling and marine construction activities in recent years, and the adoption of practices to accelerate the container transfer process had given rise to potential new hazards and more accidents. The Administration therefore considered it necessary to strengthen the relevant legislation to further protect the safety of workers, in particular for those in midstream operation. The Administration therefore proposed:
- to extend the marine work activities covered by the principal Ordinance to include "marine construction";
- to empower the Director of Marine (D of M) to issue codes of practice for the purpose of providing practical guidance in respect of the requirements of Part V or the regulations made under the principal Ordinance; and
- to increase the penalty charges for breach of requirements of Part V of the principal Ordinance.
Level of penalty charges
3. Mrs Miriam LAU expressed concern about the proposal of increasing the penalty charges by two fold and asked for justifications for the proposal. DSES advised that under the Bill, it was proposed that the existing fines of fixed amounts be substituted by fines at certain levels, for example, a fine of $10,000 be substituted by a fine at level 4, i.e. $10,001 to $25,000. DSES pointed out that the range of fines would allow flexibility for the judges to impose heavier fines for the repeated offenders. It might also deter companies in the relevant industries, in particular the small companies, from not complying with the requirements of Part V of the principal Ordinance and therefore, reduce the accident figures. Deputy Director of Marine (DD of M) added that the penalty charges proposed under the Bill were low in comparison with those stipulated in the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59) and the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509).
|4. Mrs Miriam LAU considered that the increase in penalty charges might not necessarily reduce the accident figures. At Mrs LAU's request, DSES undertook to provide justifications for the proposed increase, in particular the following information:||Admin|
- information on any relevant cases which showed that the existing level of penalty charges were too low; and
- a breakdown of accident figures for each year since 1992, and the number of repeated offenders and the number of accidents in which each of them was involved, so as to ascertain whether there had been an upward trend of cargo handling accidents.
|5. Mr LEE Kai-ming considered that the penalty charges proposed under the Bill were not too heavy and that the proposal would unlikely have any deterrent effect. To facilitate members' consideration, Mr LEE suggested the Administration to compare the levels of penalty charges proposed under the Bill with those stipulated in Cap. 59 and Cap. 509. DSES agreed to provide the relevant information.||Admin
Codes of practice
|6. Mrs Miriam LAU considered that in drafting the codes of practice, the Administration should consult the relevant industries and seek to balance the views and interests of the employers and workers. The guidelines provided under the codes of practice should not be complicated. Otherwise, both the employers and workers might be reluctant to follow. DSES responded that the codes of practice would provide practical guidelines and should be easy to follow. The Administration would consult the relevant industries on the details of the codes after the passage of the Bill. DD of M supplemented that a steering group comprising representatives from the Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Council and the relevant industries had been set up to work on the code of safety. It was expected that the steering group, with the expert advice of the consultant, would draw up a code which was acceptable to all parties concerned. At the suggestion of Mr LEE Kai-ming, DD of M undertook to ask the consultant to make reference to the code of safety being in use on the land side.
7. Responding to Mrs Miriam LAU, DD of M advised that the Administration planned to put the codes of practice into effect 12 months after the enactment of the Bill so as to allow time for the relevant industries to make the necessary arrangements.
Definition and operation of "lifting appliance"
8. Mr CHAN Kam-lam asked whether the definition of "lifting appliance" in section 36 of the principal Ordinance would be exhaustive after the addition of "excavator", "pile driver" and "pile extractor" as proposed under the Bill. In response, DD of M advised that the definition of the term should cover all the appliances concerned.
9. Mr LEE Kai-ming considered that lifting appliance in the relevant industries, in particular midstream operation, should be operated with licence. DD of M advised that all operators of lifting appliance would be trained in the Vocational Training Council and would therefore be familiar with the operation.
Application of Part V of the principal Ordinance to vessels of 50 metres or less in length
10. Responding to Mrs Miriam LAU's enquiry, Assistant Legal Adviser 2 (ALA2) advised that the proposed amendment to section 37 of the principal Ordinance, by clause 8 of the Bill, would remove the non-application of Part V of the principal Ordinance to vessels of 50 metres or less in length in relation to vessel repair or breaking up work. Assistant Director of Marine advised that the purpose of the amendment was to bring the vessels of 50 metres or less in length under the provisions of the cargo handling safety requirements. However, at present, the written permission of D of M was not required for the carrying out of any repairs to, or breaking up of, these small vessels. To maintain the existing arrangement, clause 10 of the Bill was introduced to amend section 40 of the principal Ordinance by adding a new subsection (1A) so that these small vessels were exempted from the requirement of subsection (1) unless D of M gave written notification to the person in charge of the works that subsection (1) applied to his vessel.
11. Mr CHAN Kam-lam had reservations about the arrangement under the proposed new subsection (1A) of section 40 of the principal Ordinance. DD of M advised that staff of the Marine Department (MD) would, in patroling the waters of Hong Kong, become aware of the repair or breaking up works to be carried out to some of the vessels. If it was considered that the written permission of D of M was required for the works, the person in charge of the works would be notified accordingly. Mr CHAN Kam-lam was concerned about those cases which MD were not aware of and wondered who should be held responsible for accidents happened during the carrying out of the works. DD of M responded that so far, no problem had been experienced with the existing arrangement mentioned in paragraph 10 above. Permission from D of M for repairing or breaking up of vessels of 50 metres or less in length was therefore not required.
(Post-meeting note: In response to ALA2's letter dated 15 July 1999, the Administration replied on 19 July 1999 advising that at present, ship repairing and ship breaking activities for vessels under 50 metres in length were exempted from the control of Part V of the principal Ordinance. The proposed amendment to section 37 of the principal Ordinance, by clause 8 of the Bill, would remove such exemption. After enactment of the Bill, any repairing or breaking up work of vessels, irrespective of their length, would be subject to the provisions of Part V of the principal Ordinance. The Administration's policy intent was to tighten the control of such activities by including vessels under 50 metres in length under Part V of the principal Ordinance so as to minimize marine industrial accidents. ALA2's letter and the Administration's reply were circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(1) 1738/98-99 on 21 July 1999.)
The draft Shipping and Port Control (Cargo Handling) (Amendment) Regulation 1999
|12. In response to members' concerns about occupational safety, DSES and DD of M advised that under the draft Shipping and Port Control (Cargo Handling) (Amendment) Regulation 1999, new provisions on occupational safety would be added and general duties of care would be imposed on employers, persons in charge of works and persons employed. These proposed provisions had been drafted with reference to the relevant provisions of Cap. 59. To facilitate members' consideration, DSES undertook to provide a comparison of the proposed provisions of the draft Regulation and the relevant provisions of Cap. 59, in particular on:||Admin|
- safety helmet, etc.;
- general duties of an employer and a person in charge of works; and
- general duties of persons employed.
13. Responding to Mrs Miriam LAU, DSES advised that the draft Regulation would be made after the Bill was enacted and would be subject to negative vetting of the Legislative Council. The Administration did not propose to go into details of the draft Regulation at this stage. Mrs Miriam LAU was concerned that under the negative vetting procedure, Members would have only 28 days to scrutinize the Regulation.
Consultation with relevant Panels of the Legislative Council
|14. Mr LEE Kai-ming supported the Bill which sought to improve the safety of workers engaged in marine work activities. However, he noted that the Administration had not consulted the relevant Panel of the Legislative Council on the Bill. He considered such consultation essential so that the Panel and the Administration could have the opportunity of discussing the policy aspects of the proposed legislative amendments before the Bill was introduced to the Council. He requested the Administration to pay attention to this point.||Admin|
The way forward
15. At the suggestion of Mrs Miriam LAU, the Bills Committee agreed to invite deputations from the relevant industries to present their views on the Bill at the next meeting to be held on Monday, 26 July 1999 at 8:30 am. The Administration would also be invited to the meeting.
III. Any other business
16. The meeting ended at 10:15 am.
Legislative Council Secretariat
21 July 1999