Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2)2572/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/BC/4/98

Bills Committee on Hotel Accommodation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1998

Minutes of Meeting held on Friday, 20 November 1998 at 10:45 am in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present:

Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Chairman)
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP

Members Absent:

Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Public Officers Attending:

Mr LEE Lap-sun
Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs

Mr Francis LO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs

Miss Angela LUK
Assistant Director of Home Affairs

Mrs Alice LAU
Assistant Commissioner of Inland Revenue

Chief Officer, Office of the Licensing Authority
Home Affairs Department

Ms Anastasia M H KWONG
Senior Government Counsel
Department of Justice
Clerk in Attendance:
Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance:
Miss Anita HO
Assistant Legal Adviser 2

Mr Stanley MA
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 6

The Chairman welcomed representatives of the Administration to the meeting.

I. Meetng with the Administration and clause-by-clause examination
[Paper Nos. CB(2)667/98-99(01) and (02)]

Draft Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) proposed by the Administration

2. At the invitation of the Chairman, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (DS for HA) briefed members on the contents of the Administration's draft CSAs which were proposed with regard to members' comments, requests of the hotel and guesthouse industry and public safety. He said that the Administration had agreed to the proposal of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners Limited that the maximum period of licence could be lengthened to 84 months, subject to annual certification by an authorized person that there had been no substantial alteration to the latest plan agreed to by the Licensing Authority. The proposed CSA also included a definition of "authorized person" based on the meaning in section 2 of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123). He said that subject to members' agreement, the Administration intended to resume Second Reading debate of the Bill as soon as possible. Members expressed support of the proposed CSAs.

Exclusion Order for special establishments

3. Responding to the Chairman, DS for HA said that the exclusion of certain establishments from the definition of "hotel" and "guesthouse" under Cap. 348 and 349 was only for avoidance of doubt that these establishments were also subject to regulation of the Ordinances under discussion. As regards other categories such as university hostels, staff quarters, private hospitals, rehabilitation centres and similar caring organizations, it was apparent that they were not intended to provide accommodation to visitors or "any person presenting himself". As such establishments were clearly outside the legislative intents of the two Ordinances, there was no urgent need to include them in the exclusion order under section 3 of Cap. 349.

Definition of "hotel" and "guesthouse"

4. Mr Howard YOUNG asked whether the Administration would review the definitions of "hotel" and "guesthouse" as suggested by the industry and members at previous meetings. DS for HA said that the review would require thorough consultation with the hotel and guesthouse industries. To avoid further delay of passage of the Bill which had been introduced into the former Legislative Council in 1996, the Administration considered it more appropriate to conduct the review of definitions as a separate exercise.

Clause-by-clause examination

Hotel Proprietors Ordinance

Clause 1 - Short title and commencement

5. Members noted that sections 6 and 7 concerning the issue and renewal of licence would come into operation on a day to be appointed by the Secretary for Home Affairs by notice in the Gazette. DS for HA said that the Administration would have to determine the new levels of licence fees before deciding the effective date.

Clause 2 - Interpretation

6. Noting that the translations of "sleeping accommodation" in the Hotel Proprietors Ordinance (Cap. 158) and "accommodation" in Hotels Accommodation Tax Ordinance (Cap. 348), were (住宿) and (住房) respectively, Mr Edward HO asked whether they were different in meaning. Senior Government Counsel of the Department of Justice (SGC/DJ) replied that the definition in an ordinance should be construed in the context of that particular ordinance.

7. Mr Edward HO sought clarification on the interpretation of the phrase "who is in a fit state to be received" in clause 2(b). In reply, SGC/DJ said that the phrase was originated from the relevant provision in the Hotel Proprietor Act of England, which provided the hotel management with the discretion to refuse receiving persons who appeared not in a fit state. In case of dispute, the court would have to determine, with reference to precedent cases, whether the person was in a fit state to be received.

Clause 3 - Modifications of liabilities and rights of innkeepers as such

8. Members had no comment on the clause.

Hotel Accommodation Tax Ordinance

Clause 4 - Interpretation

9. Members had no comment on the clause.

Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance

Clause 5 - Interpretation

10. Members had no comment on the clause.

Clause 6 - Application for and issue of licence

11. Members noted that the Administration had proposed Committee Stage amendment (CSA) to this clause. Mr CHAN Wing-chan asked whether the new licence fees would require approval by the LegCo. Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs responded that as provided in section 22(f) of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance (Cap. 349), the Chief Executive in Council may by regulation determine the fees to be charged for any matter prescribed or permitted by the Ordinance. He said that the Home Affairs Bureau would discuss with the Finance Bureau the new licence fees and make recommendations to the Executive Council for approval. The approved new licence fees would then be gazetted, and would be subject to the negative vetting procedure of the LegCo.

Clause 7 - Renewal of licence

12. Members had no comment on the clause.

Clause 8 - Secretary may direct remedial measures

13. Members had no comment on the clause.

Clause 9 - Order for closure and cessation of use of premises as a hotel or a guesthouse

14. Noting that the Secretary for Home Affairs (S for HA) could apply to the District Court for issue of an order directing the closure and cessation of use of premises as a hotel or a guesthouse, Mr CHAN Wing-chan enquired about the conditions which could justify S for HA's application. Chief Officer of the Licensing Authority replied that such applications would only be made in very serious cases where it appeared to S for HA that there was the risk of danger to the guests of and other persons in the hotel or guesthouse concerned. He added that before S for HA made the application, the hotel operator would be given a chance to make his representation.

Clause 10 - Offences in relation to certificates of exemption and licences

15. Members noted that the Administration had proposed CSA to the clause.

Clause 11 - Section added - "21A. Time limit for prosecution of offences"

16. Mr Howard YOUNG sought clarification on the interpretation of "the commission of the offences" under the proposed new section 21A(a). He asked whether a hotel/guesthouse operator could use the excuse that renovation was still not completed to avoid prosecution. SGC/DJ explained that the "offences" covered any piece of work or action which was apparently in breach of a regulation of the relevant Ordinances. DS for HA supplemented that the enforcement officer would exercise common sense in determining whether the piece of uncompleted work was relevant to the offence in question.

Clause 12 - substituted for

17. Members had no comment on the clause.

18. Members noted the CSAs proposed by the Administration [LC Paper No. CB(2)682/98-99] and had no further comments. Assistant Legal Adviser 2 confirmed that the drafting of the Bill and the CSAs was in order.

The way forward

19. The Chairman suggested and members agreed to report deliberations of the Bills Committee to the House Committee on 27 November 1998. DS for HA said that the Administration would give notice to resume the Second Reading debate of the Bill at the Council's meeting on 9 December 1998.

20. The Chairman thanked representatives of the Administration for attending the meeting.

II. Any other business

21. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 11:20 am.

Legislative Council Secretariat
15 July 1999