LC Paper No. CB(2)1699/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/11/98
Bills Committee on District Councils Bill
Minutes of Meeting
held on Tuesday, 26 January 1999 at 8:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP (Chairman)
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Lee Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Christine LOH
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Members Absent :
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Public Officers Attending :
Mr Robin IP
Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs 2
Mrs Maureen CHAN
Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs 3
Mr Paul WONG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs
Mr Augustine CHENG
Deputy Director of Home Affairs
Mr James O' NEIL
Principal Government Counsel (Elections)
Mrs N DISSANAYAKE
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman
Mr Vidy CHEUNG
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman
Miss Monica LAW
Senior Assistant Law Draftsman
Clerk in Attendance :
Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
Mrs Justina LAM
Assistant Secretary General 2
Mr Jimmy MA
Mr Arthur CHEUNG
Assistant Legal Adviser 5
Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
I. Committee Stage amendments proposed by Democratic Party
The Chairman said that the Bills Committee would continue to discuss
the Committee Stage amendments (CASs) relating to eligibility for candidature
proposed by Members of the Democratic Party Members relating to eligibility
Eligibility for candidature
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(04)]
2. Referring to clause 20(1)(e), Mr Fred LI said that the candidates
of Legislative Council (LegCo) election and those of District Council (DC)
election should not be subject to the same eligibility requirement of having
to ordinarily reside in Hong Kong for the three years immediately preceding
the nomination. He considered that candidates of DC elections should
not be subject to over-stringent eligibility requirements, such as this
provision and the requirement for a declaration to be made to uphold the
Basic Law and to swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative
Region (HKSAR) under clause 33(1)(b).
3. Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs 2 (DS(CA)2) responded
that the requirement was proposed included because it was considered appropriate
and reasonable. He explained that although reference was made to
the LegCo Ordinance in drafting the Bill, only those provisions which were
considered relevant and appropriate to the DC election had been adopted.
He pointed out, for instance, that the nationality requirement for LegCo
did not apply to DCs.
4. Referring to clause 33(1)(b), Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked why the Administration
considered it appropriate to require a DC election candidate to make the
declaration given that the Basic Law had not madethere was no such a stipulation
in the Basic Law. DS(CA)2 replied that the Administration believed
that the requirement was appropriate and pointed out that in accepting
office, each appointed and ex-officio member of the Provisional District
Boards (PDBs) had also made a declaration to uphold the Basic Law and to
swear allegiance to the HKSAR. He also referred Mr CHEUNG to the
Administration's written response (item 4) in Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(10).
5. Mr CHEUNG said that what the Administration "believed" to be appropriate
could not be accepted as an answer. Moreover, the fact that PDB members
also made the declaration could not be taken as a reason for requiring
DC election candidates to make the declaration.
|6. Mr CHEUNG further enquired whether the boundaries of Rural Committees
(RCs) matched those of the Districts. Deputy Director of Home Affairs
(DD(HA)) replied that the two sets of boundaries matched one another, except
that there were three villages in the Kwai Tsing District which belonged
to the Tsuen Wan Rural Committee. The Administration was considering
whether a CSA was necessary to specify in the Bill which Rural Committee
belonged to which District.||Adm|
|7. Mr CHEUNG asked whether there were legal problems for the Chairman
of the Tsuen Wan RC to become an ex officio member of the Tsuen Wan DC
as a result of votes cast by electors in Kwai Tsing. DD(HA) replied
that the election of for a RC Chairman and that of for DC members were
two separate elections. The Chairman asked the Administration to
provide a written response as the same point had also been raised by the
Legal Adviser earlier.||Adm|
Strengthening the functions of the Secretary of a District Council
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(03)]
8. Mr Andrew CHENG highlighted the main points of the paper. He added
said that similar to LegCo, a DC should be serviced by a Secretariat which
was separate from the civil service, so as to enhance the independent status
of the DC and also facilitate its work. He expressed dissatisfaction
that the Administration had adopted the criteria that the example of LegCo
would only be followed when it suited the Administration's purpose.
If it did not (such as the establishment of an independent Secretariat),
the Administration would put forward all sorts of excuses.
9. DD(HA) responded that the proposed amendment was not necessary as
the present system was working well. Moreover, certain duties specified
in the Bill werehad to be carried out by the Director of Home Affairs Designated
Officer or the District Officer and not the Secretary of the DC. He could
not see the relevance of appointing a non-civil servant as the Secretary
as being more suitable to carry out the duties. He pointed out that the
situation was completely different in the case of the LegCo Secretariat
as the latter were given funds to employ its own staff. DS(CA)2 added
that the present system had so far worked welleffectively and the DBs and
PDBs were satisfied with it the system.
10. Mr Fred LI said that the CSA was proposed in the hope that the Administration
would at least give some thought to how the Secretary of the DC could function
more effectively. The change needed not be a completely independent
Secretariat but something along the line of the Secretary of the Provisional
Urban Council (PUC). He pointed out that although the Secretary of
PUC was a civil servant, his appointment required the approval of the Chairman
of PUC who also wrote the Secretary's performance appraisal. If the
same arrangement applied to the Secretary of a the DC, it would enhance
his accountability to the Chairman. Both he and Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong
questioned whether the Administration had in fact asked every PDB whether
they were happy with the present system.
11. DS(CA)2 replied that no dissatisfaction had been discerned or negative
feedback received about the system in the day to day contacts with the
PDBs. Mr CHEUNG expressed dissatisfaction that DS(CA)2 had changed
his earlier answer from "PDBs were satisfied with the system" to the present
one of "there was no dissatisfaction and no negative feedback". He
reminded the Administration to be specific as their that the response they
gave given that it would be recorded in the minutes.
12. Mr Andrew CHENG further said that main problem of staffing the DC
Secretariat with government officers was that they had to side with the
Administration and defend government policies. He asked whether the
Administration would consult the 18 PDBs. DD(HA) responded that the
Secretariat only handled the paper work of the PDB. The activities
organized by PDBs required re were other support services which and these
were provided by other staff of the District Office. As no problem
had been raised about the present system, the Administration had no intention
to of formally consulting the 18 PDBs on the need for change.
Functions of District Councils
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(05)]
13. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong highlighted the points made in the paper.
14. Mr CHEUNG asked whether the phrase "matters affecting the well-being
of the people in the District" was sufficiently broad to include "matters
relating to food and environmental hygiene services". Deputy Secretary
for Constitutional Affairs 3 (DS(CA)3) explained that the phrase "matters
relating to food and environmental hygiene services" was added to reflect
the significant concern of the public raised during the public consultation
exercise on the review of district organizations conducted last year.
It served to give a clear message of the enhanced role of the DCs in this
aspect of work.
15. DS(CA)3 also referred to a suggestion made by some members that
as the nature of activities carried out by the PDBs in the past was not
limited to those detailed in clause 59, an amendment should be made to
include such other types of activities. DS(CA)3 said that the Administration
would consider and respond later.
16. Mr CHEUNG commented that "the significant concern" about matters
relating to food and environmental hygiene services was a biased view as
the consultation was carried out to serve the Administration's purpose
of disbanding the two Municipal Councils. The consultation had not
touched on other equally important issues such as housing, law and order,
transport, etc. He did not object to the DCs advising on such matters
but questioned whether it was appropriate and necessary to emphasize this
function in the Bill. He emphasized that bills legislation, once
enacted, would be in operation for a long time. They should therefore
be properly drafted and unnecessary provisions should not be included.
Mr Fred LI remarked that the phrase was added because the Administration
had already made up its mind to disband the two Municipal Councils.
17. The Chairman asked whether the DC could still take on this function
if the phrase was not included in the Bill. DS(CA)3 replied that
there would not be any problem as the scope of clause 59 was very wide.
Dr TANG Siu-tong suggested that the phrase be deleted since it would not
make any difference.
18. Mr Andrew CHENG pointed out that adding the phrase could create
problems of co-ordination of work between the DCs and the two Municipal
Councils as the latter were still in existence.
19. DS(CA)3 said that the Administration could not agree to the amendments
proposed by Democratic Party Members of the Democratic Party at the present
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(05)]
20. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong informed members that the Democratic Party would
like to withdraw its CSA on quorum for discussion by the Bills Committee
for the time being as it needed more time to consider the issue.
Appointment of Members to Committees
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(05)]
21. Mr Andrew CHENG highlighted the points made in the second paragraph
of his paper and queried why there was a need for a committee member appointed
under clause 69(2) have to satisfy the requirements for candidature.
DD(HA) explained that a DC could appoint committees to carry out any of
its functions under clause. It was therefore appropriate to apply
the same requirement for eligibility to committee members as they carried
a similar level of responsibility to that of a DC member.
22. Mr Fred LI enquired whether there had been any problem with the
appointment of committee members in the past. He pointed out that
young people below not reaching the age of 21 would no longer be eligible
to be appointed as co-opted members of committees of DCs. DD(HA)
responded that the clause would only apply to members of committees appointed
under 69(1). A DC could make provisions in its standing orders to
set up working groups under a committee and decide who to invite to join
23. Mr Howard YOUNG expressed concern that the meaning of committee
was too broad and might be confused with, say, the organizing committee
of a one-off event. DD(HA) reiterated that the appointment of committees
and appointment of members to committees were clearly stipulated in subclauses
69(1) and 69(2) respectively. The standing orders of a DC would also
set in detail the procedures for the appointment of co-opted members.
24. Mr Andrew CHENG opined that the new requirement would weaken the
participation of young people in the work of DCs. He asked whether
the PDBs had been consulted on this proposal. Mr Fred LI also asked
how many existing committees under PDBs had tertiary students aged between
18 to 20 as co-opted members. DD(HA) responded that the Administration
did not have such information. but However, he believed that most co-opted
members were above this age range. He stressed that what was important
was the participation but not the capacity. Young people could still
play a role in the work of a DC, such as becoming members of working groups.
He further informed members that there had in fact been concern about the
background of some co-opted committee members appointed in the past, hence
the need to set clearer eligibility criteria. He hoped that the Bills
Committee would support the proposal.
II. Committee Stage amendments proposed by Mr LAU Chin-shek
[Paper No. CB(2)1118/98-99(04)]
25. The Chairman referred members to the Committee Stage amendments
(CSAs) proposed by Mr LAU Chin-shek who was not a member of the Bills Committee.
Mr CHAN Kam-lam suggested that Mr LAU Chin-shek be invited to explain his
CSAs to the Bills Committee. Mr LEE Kai-ming said that the Administration
should also respond to Mr LAU's proposed CSAs.
26. Mr Andrew CHENG said that as Mr LAU was not present at the meeting,
he would explain Mr LAU's CSAs to facilitate the meeting's discussion.
Referring to the paper, Mr CHENG said that Mr LAU had proposed the following
- clauses 3, 4, 5 and 8: any future change to the declaration of districts
and establishment of DCs should be presented in the form of a resolution
to the Council for approval;
- clause 6: in making an order to declare the constituencies, CE in
Council must "follow", and not just "have regard to", the recommendations
made by the EAC;
- clauses 63 and 80: it should be clearly stated that an order to
change the procedure to elect Chairman or Vice Chairman of a DC was subsidiary
- clause 79: it should be clearly stipulated that the regulations
were subsidiary legislation; and
- clause 83: the clause should be deleted.
27. DS(CA)2 responded that -
- clause 8 of the Bill provided that CE in Council could amend Schedules
1, 2 and 3 in the form of orders. The orders thus made would be subject
to negative vetting by LegCo;
- the proposed provisions in clauses 63 and 80 were appropriate, hence
needed not be changed; and
- regarding clause 83, the Administration would, as explained to the
Bills Committee at an earlier meeting, move a CSA to subclause (1) to delete
"in relation to the performance of its functions" and substituting ", in
the performance of its functions, in relation to matters which appear to
the Chief Executive to affect add the words "in the public interest".
28. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that Mr LAU was concerned that if a certain
order or regulation was not specified to be subsidiary legislation in the
principal ordinancelegislation, it needed not be presented to LegCo for
scrutiny. Mr CHEUNG cited the example of the Maximum Fares for the
Licensed Ferry Service between Discovery Bay and Chek Lap Kok which was
published as a Government Notice in the gGazette on 23 October 1998.
As it was not tabled in Council, Members did not have the opportunity to
29. Principal Government Counsel (Elections) PGC(E) responded that he
and the Legal Adviser to LegCo were not in any disagreement that the orders
and regulations to be made under the Bill, after enactment, were subsidiary
legislation which were required to be tabled in Council, hence subject
to Members' scrutiny.
30. Referring to the example cited by Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong relating to
ferry fares, the Legal Adviser explained that the disagreement with the
Administration was over the notice a different issue i.e. whether notices
made by the Commissioner for Transport to determine the maximum fares that
could be charged on any licensed service was whether or not the General
Notice in question had legislative effect.
31. The Legal Adviser further explained that the subsidiary legislation
made by the Administration was subject to either the negative or the positive
vetting procedure, depending on how the making of the subsidiary legislation
was provided in the principal ordinance. Under the negative vetting
procedure, the Council had an opportunity to amend any subsidiary legislation,
within certain time as provided in section 34 of the Interpretation and
General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1). However, subsidiary legislation
could take immediate effect once it was gazetted. Under the positive
vetting procedure, the subsidiary legislation would have to be presented
as a resolution for approval in Council, in accordance with section 35
of Cap 1. The subsidiary legislation would not come into effect without
the prior approval of LegCo. He added that it was a policy issue
rather than a legal issue matter for Members to decide how they wished
to exercise supervisory control over the making of subsidiary legislation
to be made under this Bill.
32. Mr LEE Wing-tat said that the negative vetting procedure should
only apply to those items of subsidiary legislation which were purely technical
in nature or which were for implementing an existing policy.
Any subsidiary legislation which concerned policy issues should be subject
to the positive vetting procedure so that the Council had a chance to debate
the legislative proposal before deciding whether or not to give approval.
He expressed concern that the Administration's proposal for to adopt the
negative vetting procedure for the orders and regulations to be made under
the Bill subject to the negative vetting procedure was setting an unsatisfactory
precedent. He asked whether the Administration had any internal guidelines
on the making of subsidiary legislation. DS(CA)2 reiterated that
the proposed arrangement was appropriate and that he had nothing to add.
33. Mr LEE Wing-tat expressed dissatisfaction that the Administration
failed to answer his questions. DS(CA)2 replied that he had tried
his best to respond to Members' questions.
34. Referring to the phrase "must have regard to" in clause 6(2), Mr
LEE Wing-tat asked under what circumstances would CE in Council not follow
the recommendations of the Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC). DS(CA)2
replied that since the clause provided that the order was made by CE in
Council, the power rested with CE in Council.
35. The Chairman suggested that the meeting should resume clause by
clause examination of the Bill while waiting for Ms HO Sau-lan who had
requested for her CSAs to be discussed around 10:30 am.
III. Clause by clause examination
36. In response to Mr LEE Wing-tat's questions on what government officers
would be appointed to be an Assistant Electoral Registration Officer (AERO)
and whether the officer had any powers to exercise in relation to the register
of electors, DS(CA)2 replied that only senior ranking officers would be
appointed as AEROs who assisted the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO)
in discharging his duties or acting as the ERO in the latter's absence.
He added that a person could lodge a claim or objection to the ERO in relation
to entries in the provisional register or the omission list. The Revising
Officer, who was a judicial officer appointed by the Chief Justice, would
then rule on such claims or objection, in accordance with section 34 of
the LegCo Ordinance.
37. Mr LEE Wing-tat asked why the procedure described by DS(CA)2 was
provided in the LegCo Ordinance and not in the DC Bill. PGC(E) explained
that powers were given to the EAC to make regulation relating to the registration
of electors which included claims and objections. He believed that
the EAC would make similar regulations for the purposes of the DC elections.
38. DS(CA)2 referred members to sections 18 and 20 of Schedule 6 and
further explained that the recent electors' registration exercise was conducted
based on the LegCo Ordinance as the DC Bill had yet to be passed by LegCo.
He added that in accordance with section 32(1)(b) of the LegCo Ordinance,
the ERO must publish a final register on or before 31 March 1999.
According to clause 30 of the Bill, the ERO must not later than two months
before the date of the election compile and publish on the basis of this
final register, a register for the DC s election, indicating the corresponding
constituencies of individual electors.
|39. Mr LEE pointed out that in the last DB election, the voting
results in some Districts were very close, the margin being a few votes.
He expressed concern that there had been cases where a number of electors
were registered under the same address. He asked the Administration
to provide a paper on the preparation of register of electors for the DC
election and the procedure taken to question information published in the
register. DS(CA)2 undertook to provide a written response on the
IV. Committee Stage amendments proposed by Ms Ho Sau-lan
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(02)]
Disqualification of Members
40. Referring to her proposed amendment to clause 24(5), Ms HO Sau-lan
explained that it would be very unfair to the electors if the DC member
they had elected failed to attend the DC meetings which were held once
every two months only. She therefore proposed that a member should
be disqualified from holding office if he was absent from meetings for
four, instead of six, consecutive months. She considered that four
months was a sufficiently long time for a member to sort out whatever business
that had prevented him from attending DC meetings.
41. Ms Emily LAU raised the following questions -
- how a PDB member at present obtained the PDB's consent if he had
to be absent from PDB meetings for six consecutive months;
- what criteria were used by the PDBs in deciding whether or not to
- whether meetings referred to in clause 24(5) included special meetings;
how many members so far had been disqualified from holding office
on the grounds of absence from meetings for six consecutive months.
42. In response to Ms LAU's questions, DD(HA) made the following points
- a prior application had to be made to the PDB which would decide
at a formal meeting whether or not to give consent, having regard to the
reasons put forward by the member concerned;
- it was up to the PDB to determine the criteria used; the most common
reasons given in applications for absence from meetings were not being
in Hong Kong on the day of meeting, illness or other commitments;
- meetings included special meetings; and
- the Administration would provide the figures a written response
on the number of members who had been disqualified for reason of being
absent from meetings for six consecutive months, after the meeting.
43. DD(HA) further pointed out that a six months' period was appropriate
as a DC only met once every two months, there might only be two meetings
within a six months' period. He added that there had not been any
feedback from the PDBs that a six months' period was not appropriate.
44. In reply to Mr LEE Wing-tat, DD(HA) said that the requirement for
a PDB to hold a meeting once every two months was not stipulated in law,
but in the standing orders of a PDB. Sometimes, a PDB might not meet
for more than two months if there was a break in between.
45. Ms Emily LAU pointed out that a member might not be able to submit
a prior application in urgent cases. DD(HA) clarified that the consent
could be obtained before the end of the six months. Ms LAU commented
that the arrangement was confusing.
46. Mr TSANG Yok-sing gave an example of a member attending a meeting
in December, missed those for February and April, but attended the one
in June. Since there was no meeting in January, it could be argued
that the six months' period should only be counted as commencing in February,
hence the member had only been absent for four months. It could further
be argued that since there was no meeting scheduled for May, the member
had only been absent for two consecutive months.
47. DD(HA) responded that the six months' period should be counted as
commencing from the day immediately following the date of the meeting which
the member last attended.
48. Mr Andrew WONG asked whether a meeting included one which could
not be held as scheduled because of a lack of quorum.
49. Mr LEE Wing-tat pointed out that if a DC member missed a meeting
in January and could not attend the ones in March and May as well, he would
have to make an application for the DC to give consent for his absence
at the March meeting. If he failed to make an application prior to
the March meeting, he would not have another opportunity to seek the DC's
consent within the stipulated six months' period.
50. PGC(E) replied that the provision had been used without confusion
for a number of years. However, he admitted that there could be some
ambiguity. DS(CA)2 agreed to consider members' views and provide
a written response.
51. Ms HO Sau-lan requested the Administration to provide a paper giving
details of the provisions made in the standing orders of the 18 PDBs in
respect of the following matters -
- procedure for calling of meetings;
- voting procedure on application for absence from meetings; and
- arrangement for breaks.
Functions of District Councils
52. Ms HO Sau-lan referred members to her proposed CSA to add "to receive
and handle complaints from Hong Kong residents" to clause 59. Ms HO explained
that it was a waste of public funds if a DC member only attended DC meetings
twice a month and did nothing else, including not setting up offices to
handle complaints lodged by the public.
53. DD(HA) replied that as there were ample channels for the public
to lodge complaints of various nature, it would not be necessary to specify
such a function for DCs. Moreover, every PDB operated a "meet-the-public"
service and most members had also set up their own ward offices.
54. Mr LEE Wing-tat expressed support for Ms HO's CSA. He pointed
out that the PDBs only arranged for members to meet the public once a week
because of lack of resources. Usually few complaints were received
because members of the public were required to come during office hours.
If such a function was stipulated in law, the Home Affairs Bureau would
have to provide more resources.
55. DD(HA) reiterated the following points -
- through the "meet- the public" service, complaints were handled
by the PDB members on a roster basis;
- many PDB members had set up their own ward offices; and
- there were already many complaints channels.
56. Ms Emily LAU said that she would propose to make the provision even
stricter by requiring members to "regularly" meet residents to receive
and handle their complaints. She expressed dissatisfaction that Government
was protecting those members who were receiving remuneration of over $17,000
per month and not performing their duties. She asked whether the
Administration was aware of such a problem and pointed out that .
bBy stipulating such a function in the Bill, it would be a breach of law
oif DC members failed to carry it outwork. She found it regrettable
that the Administration had no expectations of the DC members and did not
care whether or not they were fulfilling their duties.were happy that they
merely held the office in name and did nothing.
57. Both Mr James TIEN and Mr Andrew WONG asked Ms HO to clarify whether
her CSA was for the DCs or for the DC members to take on the function of
receiving and handling complaints, since the heading of clause 59 was "Functions
of DCs". Ms HO Sau-lan explained that both the DCs and DC members
should take on the function.
58. Mr Andrew WONG suggested that the functions of DC members be provided
in a separate clause, if considered necessary, and not under clause 59.
He expressed doubts as to whether Miss HO's proposal would be effective
in forcing BDC members to carry out the work of handlinge public complaints.
He said that ultimately it would be for the public to judge whether a member
was doing his job properly, taking account of the members' his overall
59. Ms HO Sau-lan said that if those hardworking members had not operated
their ward offices, many of the complaints would have ended up being taken
on by LegCo or the Ombudsman. She asked whether the Administration
had done any analysis of the nature of cases handled by the ward offices
of PDB members. DD(HA) responded that it would be difficult to categorise
which complaint should be handled by which organization. It would
be for the complainant to decide which organization to approach.
He added that the Government had no power to force PDB members to operate
ward offices. However, since they held a public office, the public
would monitor their performance.
60. Mr LEE Wing-tat asked whether there were sanctions against a member
who refused to serve as a roster member for "meet-the-public" service.
DD(HA) replied that this aspect of work was determined by the PDB itself
and not stipulated in the standing orders.
61. Ms HO Sau-lan asked whether the standing orders stipulated any requirement
for a member to join a minimum number of committees. DD(HA)
replied in the negative.
New clause 70A - Financial Accounts of District Councils to be Audited
by Director of Audit
[Paper No. CB(2)1158/98-99(02)]
62. Ms HO Sau-lan said that the financial accounts of DCs should be
vetted by the Director of Audit to boost their accountability. It
was important that the Director of Audit had a chance to examine whether
funds were used by DCs in a cost-effective manner and that there was no
63. DD(HA) replied that the proposal made by Ms HO was inappropriate
and unnecessary as the DCs did not have any assets and liabilities. District
Board funds were included in the accounts of the Home Affairs Department
and were allocated by the Director of Home Affairs each year. For
the current financial year, the funds allocated to PDBs amounted to $123
million. He added that the spending of each government department
was already supervised by the Director of Audit, and the internal audit
group of the Home Affairs Department also examined the annual expenditure
of the 18 PDBs.
64. Mr LEE Wing-tat pointed out that there were loopholes in the supervision
over the spending of public money in the DBs. He cited the following
(a) certain types of activities were given a standard rate, regardless
of whether the event(s) actually required so much money;
(b) contracts for services or goods were awarded to companies owned
by friends or relatives of PDB members. Moreover, false quotations
were sometimes used to ensure that a particular company was awarded the
(c) even if quotations were obtained, they were false ones; and
(cd) money would was spent freely towards the end of the financial year
because there were savings.
65. Mr LEE Wing-tat added that he was aware that the police had investigated
a number of cases regarding awarding of contracts to service companies
but without success.
66. DD(HA) replied the standard allocation arrangement was intended
to make it covenient for orgainzations such as mutual aid committees, schools,
voluntary agencies etc., to apply for PDB funds. As for procurement
of services or goods, quotations were obtained in accordance with existing
government rules and regulations. He reiterated that Miss HO's proposed
CSA was not necessary as the Director of Audit already had the power and
responsibility to audit funds allocated to the Home Affairs Department,
including those for use by the future DCs.
V. Way forward
67. DS(CA)2 thanked members for their efforts in scrutinizing the Bill.
He explained that in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of LegCo, the
Administration had to give notice on the 26 January 1999 for the resumption
of the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 10 February 1999.
68. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that members had only examined clauses
27 to 71, and some of the CSAs proposed by Members. The scrutiny
of the Bill was far from being completed.
69. Mr LEE Wing-tat requested the Administration to defer the resumption
of the Second Reading debate on the Bill to 10 March 1999. He would
not agree to the Chairman reporting to the House Committee on 29 January
1999 to enable resumption of Second Reading debate of the Bill on 10 February
|70. The Chairman reminded members that the Administration had
the right to give notice. However, the Bills Committee would continue
to meet until scrutiny work had been completed. He said that the
Clerk would work out the meeting schedule in consultation with members.||Clerk|
71. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked that in deciding the meeting dates, it
should be borne in mind that different political parties or /groups would
be able to send one to two Members to attend the meetings.
|72. Mr LEE Wing-tat suggested that the Chairman should report
the present state of affairs of the Bills Committee to the House Committee
on 29 January 1999.||Chairman|
73. The meeting ended at 12:15 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
14 April 1999