Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(2)82/99-00
(There minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/BC/16/98

Legislative Council Bills Committee on
Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999

Minutes of 18th meeting
held on Friday, 28 May 1999 at 8:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building Members Present:

Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP (Chairman)
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members Absent :

Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Christine LOH
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP

Members Attending :

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Miss Shirley YUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs(4)

Mr Bassanio SO
Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (5)

Mr James O'NEIL
Deputy Solicitor General

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Percy MA
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 3

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Stephen LAM
Assistant Legal Adviser 4

Mrs Eleanor CHOW
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 7

I. Confirmation of minutes of meeting on 4 March 1999

The minutes of the meeting on 4 March 1999 were confirmed.

II. Information papers issued since the last meeting
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2111/98-99)

2. Members noted the relevant extracts of minutes of meeting and report of the former Bills Committee on the Legislative Council Bill concerning the deliberations on voting system for Election Committee (EC), as circulated vide the LC Paper.

III. Amendments proposed by Members
(LC Paper Nos. CB(2) 1759/98-99(01), 2113/98-99(01)-(05) and 2135/98-99(02)-06))

3. The Chairman said that the purpose of this meeting was to discuss Members' proposed amendments relating to functional constituencies (FCs). The discussion was summarized below.

Mrs Sophie LEUNG's proposed amendment relating to Textiles and Garment FC
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2135/98-99(02))

4. Mrs Sophie LEUNG proposed that companies which had been on the Textiles Controls Registration (TCR) list of the Trade Department for a period of 12 months or more be included as eligible electors of the Textiles and Garment FC, as they were actually engaged in export of textiles and garment. There were some 20 000 such companies. In response to Ms Emily LAU, Mrs LEUNG said that a Member of the Provisional LegCo moved a Committee Stage amendment (CSA) to the previous Legislative Council Bill to include textile manufacturers which had registered under the Textile Traders Registration Scheme (TTRS) to be electors for the FC. At that time, the Administration objected to the CSA on the ground that companies registered under the TTRS might not necessarily be related to the FC. The CSA was eventually passed by the Provisional LegCo.

Mrs Miriam LAU's proposed amendments relating to Transport FC
(LC Paper no. CB(2) 2135/98-99(04))

5. Mrs Miriam LAU said that the electorate base of the Transport FC was too small. She had proposed to expand the electorate of the Transport FC by adding 14 organizations to Schedule 1A to the Bill.

6. Mr SIN Chung-kai expressed concern about including the Association of Owner and Driver Concerned in the Parking Spaces in Hong Kong Island (the Association) as an elector for the Transport FC (item 168 of Schedule 1A of the paper refers). He questioned the nature of the Association given that the name itself implied that it was only involved in very restrictive activity namely parking spaces in Hong Kong Island. If it was to be included as an elector for the Transport FC, numerous similar associations to be named after different districts could be set up. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong echoed the view and said that the name of an association should reflect its function. The criteria for including an association as an elector for an FC must be consistent to ensure fairness.

7. Mrs Miriam LAU explained that the Association was founded in 1993 with the aim of resolving parking space shortage in the Western District. The Association later expanded its function to provide other transport related services to its members. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW, Mrs LAU said that subject to the Administration's response to her proposed amendments, she would consider introducing amendments to include the 14 organizations as electors for the Transport FC.

8. Mrs Miriam LAU expressed concern over the preferential elimination system of voting adopted for the six smallest FCs which included the Transport FC. Under the system, electors were required to indicate their choices of candidates in preferential order by arabic numerals (i.e. 1,2,3..), and any other symbols, including a tick, would render the ballot paper invalid. She proposed that where there were only two candidates in an election of any of the six FCs, a ballot paper marked with a tick should be accepted as the intention of the voter was very clear. Mr Howard YOUNG and Mrs Selina CHOW supported the proposal. In response to the Chairman, Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) explained that the discretion of a Returning Officer to accept or reject a questionable ballot paper was provided for in the relevant subsidiary legislation.

9. On the Chairman's comment that a dual voting system within the same FC might cause confusion, Mrs LAU said that irrespective of the number of candidates contesting in an election of any of the smallest FCs, a uniform approach to require electors to indicate their choice of candidate by a tick instead of arabic numerals was an acceptable option.

10. Principal Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (4) (PAS for CA (4)) said that the number of FCs adopting the preferential elimination system of voting was reduced to four as proposed in the Bill. The system would ensure that the successful candidate would have at least 50% of the votes cast, and thus acceptable to the majority of the voters. She said that the Administration would step up publicity in the 2000 LegCo election to familiarize voters with the voting method.

11. Mr Andrew WONG pointed out that since it was legally in order for an elector to indicate only his first preference but not the other preferences on a ballot paper, there was no way to ensure that a successful candidate would receive at least 50% of the votes cast. He questioned whether the preferential elimination system of voting was necessary.

12. The Administration undertook to consider members' views and Mrs LAU's proposals when preparing the relevant subsidiary legislation. Adm

Mr Howard YOUNG's proposed amendment to create a new FC for hotel
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2113/98-99(05))

13. Mr Howard YOUNG said that the hotel industry had demanded for an independent FC to represent its interests since 1990 and had indicated that this proposed FC should replace the new District Council FC. In response to members, Mr YOUNG said that the hotel industry had 84 votes in the Tourism FC. The electorate of the proposed FC excluded guesthouses.

14. Ms Emily LAU and Mr LEE Kai-ming said that since the hotel industry had already been included as a constituent of the Tourism FC, they opposed the proposal.

Prof NG Ching-fai's proposed amendment to create a new FC for higher education
(LC Paper NO. CB(2) 1759/98-99(01))

15. Prof NG Ching-fai said that in view of the contribution of the higher education and the differences between primary and higher education, he had proposed to create a new FC for higher education to replace the new Catering FC.

16. Ms Emily LAU said that it was already unfair that some trades were not represented in the LegCo. She was opposed to adding another FC seat to the education sector. Mr LEE Kai-ming supported her view. Mr CHAN Wing-chan said that if the higher education sector considered that the existing Member could not represent its views in LegCo, the matter might be resolved by enhancing communication between the parties concerned.

17. Dr YEUNG Sum said that while trades not represented in LegCo wished to create a new FC to represent their interests, those which were already represented in LegCo wished to split their FC into two FCs. He urged the Administration to do away with FC elections and to implement direct election. Mr Andrew WONG said that as he also objected to FC elections, he would not strive for a higher education FC.

Mr Edward HO's proposed amendment relating to Architectural, Surveying and Planning FC
(LC Paper No. CB92) 2113/98-99(02))

18. Mr Edward HO proposed to divide the Architectural, Surveying and Planning FC into two FCs, namely the architectural, planning and landscape architectural FC and surveying FC. He explained that the present FC consisted of four different professions, three of which were more related to design and planning while the surveying profession was related more to building economizing management. He said that combining these professions into one FC was like forced marriage.

19. Mr Andrew WONG and Ms Emily LAU did not support Mr HO's argument. Mr Andrew WONG said that the concept of FC was to group trades and profession of similar nature into an FC. If Mr HO's rationale was to apply, other FCs would make similar requests which were unlikely to be accommodated.

Mrs Selina CHOW's proposed amendments relating to the Wholesale and Retail FC
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2135/98-99(03))

20. Mrs Selina CHOW said that she had proposed to include members of four organizations into the electorate of the Wholesale and Retail FC. She said that these organizations had a long history and substantial connection with the FC. They had been excluded from the list of electorate merely because they had not applied to become eligible electors at the last election. She urged Members to support her proposal in principle.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI's proposed amendment relating to the Real Estate and Construction FC
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2135/98-99(05))

21. The Chairman said that the real estate industry and the construction industry had requested on a number of occasions to split the Real Estate and Construction FC into two FCs without success. In response to Ms Emily LAU, the Chairman said that there was conflict of interest between the real estate industry and the construction industry as evidenced by the fact that they had to negotiate terms of contract in carrying out construction projects.

Mr SIN Chung-kai's proposed amendment relating to the Information Technology FC
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2135/98-99(06))

22. Members noted that Mr SIN Chung-kai had intended to expand the electorate of the Information Technology FC without making specific proposals.

Miss Christine LOH's proposed amendment relating to veterinary surgeons
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2113/98-99(03))

23. Members noted that Miss Christine LOH had proposed to include veterinary surgeons in the Medical FC.

24. In response to Mr Andrew WONG, PAS for CA(4) said that the Administration did not support Miss LOH's proposal. If veterinary surgeons were to be included as electors at all, only registered veterinary surgeons would be considered. She advised that there were over 100 registered veterinary surgeons.

25. Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Andrew WONG and Mr Edward HO held the view that veterinary surgeons should be included as electors for the Medical FC. Prof NG Ching-fai opined that they should belong to the Health Services FC.

Mr Eric LI's proposed amendment relating to Social Welfare FC

26. The Chairman advised that Mr Eric LI had given notice to the President on 30 April 1999 to move a CSA on behalf of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service to the effect that the composition of the Social Welfare FC should only consist of social workers registered under the Social Workers Registration Ordinance.

27. PAS for CA(4) explained that the existing Social Welfare FC consisted of social workers registered under the Social Workers Registration Ordinance, corporate members of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and exempted societies and non-profit making companies as defined in the Legislative Council Ordinance. It was anticipated that the number of exempted societies and non-profit making companies which are eligible to be registered was about 100 but less than 10 had registered as electors.

28. Mr Andrew WONG briefed members on the development of the composition of the Social Welfare FC. He said that the exempted societies and non-profit making companies were included as electors of the Social Welfare FC as a result of the passage of Mr CHAN Kam-lam's CSA to the previous Legislative Council Bill.

29. Mr TAM Yiu-chung said that since the exempted societies and non-profit making companies had become eligible corporate electors of the Social Welfare FC by way of a legislative process, their right to vote should not be removed unless with their consent. He asked whether the Administration had consulted them on Mr LI's proposal. Mr LEE Kai-ming, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and the Chairman supported his view.

30. The Administration undertook to consult those corporate bodies who had registered as electors. Adm

Dr LEONG Che-hung's proposed amendments relating to Chinese medicine and the 20% nationality rule
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2113/98-99(04))

31. Mrs Selina CHOW pointed out that since the Chinese Medicine Bill which made provisions for, inter alia, the registration of practitioners in Chinese medicine had yet to be passed, it was inappropriate at this stage to create a new Chinese medicine FC or to include Chinese medicine practitioners as electors of the Medical FC.

32. Prof NG Ching-fai supplemented that about 4 000 Chinese medicine practitioners who had registered with the Preparatory Committee on Chinese Medicine in 1995 had practised in the profession for over 15 years. As proposed in the Chinese Medicine Bill, they could become registered Chinese medicine practitioners automatically when the Chinese Medicine Ordinance came into force. He did not oppose the creation of a new FC for Chinese medicine.

33. On the 20% nationality rule, Mrs Selina CHOW said that she did not support Dr LEONG's proposal that the 12 specified FCs which could return Members not of Chinese nationality or with right of abode in foreign countries should be decided by drawing lots by the Chief Executive. She said that there should be a set of criteria for selecting the 12 FCs. Prof NG Ching-fai supported her view.

34. PAS for CA(4) said that the Bill did not propose any changes in this respect. She explained that in comparison with other FCs, the 12 FCs i.e. Accountancy, Architectural, Surveying and Planning, Commercial (First), Engineering, Finance, Financial Services, Import and Export, Industrial (First), Insurance, Legal, Real Estate and Construction, and Tourism had a greater chance of having such candidates.

35. The Chairman asked the Administration to provide information on the rationale for selecting these 12 FCs; whether any requests had been received from other FCs for inclusion as one of the 12 specified FCs; and candidates and elected Members in the 1998 LegCo election who were not of Chinese nationality or had the right of abode in foreign countries. Adm

36. On the last question, PAS for CA(4) said that candidates were requested to indicate their nationality in the nomination form for the 1998 LegCo election. She would check whether it was appropriate to disclose personal information of these candidates and whether the nomination forms had already been destroyed. Adm

Members' position on the proposed amendments

37. The Chairman summarized that -

  1. There were six proposals to expand the electorates of the Transport, Wholesale and Retail, Medical, Textiles and Garment, and Information Technology FCs;

  2. There was one proposal to create a new FC for Chinese medicine; and

  3. There were four proposals to split the existing Education, Real Estate and Construction, Tourism, and Architecture, Surveying and Planning FCs.

38. On paragraph 37 (a) above, the Chairman said that Members in principle supported that where a person/an organization could satisfy the established criteria for delineating the relevant FC, he/it should be included as an elector if he/it had been omitted from the list of electorate at the last election. He asked the Administration to provide a co-ordinated response on all proposals relating to FCs put forward by individual Members and organizations. Adm

39. PAS for CA(4) responded that the Bill had taken into account of organizations which might have been omitted from the lists of electorate of the relevant FCs at the last election. The Administration would give due consideration to Members' proposals and would propose CSAs to the Bill where appropriate.

40. On paragraph 37(c) above, the Chairman concluded that some Members had suggested to split existing FCs and to replace either the new Catering FC or the District Council FC. He invited Members to indicate their stance on the proposals.

41. The following Members indicated that they would not support the proposed splitting of FCs : Ms Emily LAU, Ms Margaret NG, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr Andrew WONG, Mr LEE Kai-ming and the Chairman.

42. Mr Bernard CHAN supported the creation of a higher education FC. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG echoed his view on the condition that the Urban Council and Regional Council FCs would be retained. Mr LEE Kai-ming and Mr CHAN Wing-chan were opposed to replacing the new Catering FC with a higher education FC.

43. PAS for CA(4) said that the Administration only supported the creation of the Catering and District Council FCs and would not support any proposal to split existing FCs.

    (Post-meeting note - The Administration's response to concerns raised by the Bills Committee at this meeting was circulated to members vide LC Paper Nos. CB(2) 2202/980-99(01) and 2304/98-99(03).)

IV. Date of next meetings

44. The Chairman said that the next meeting would be held on 31 May 1999 at 8:30 am. The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs would attend the meeting to explain the Administration's position on the Election Committees referred to in Annexes I and II of the Basic Law. If time allowed, the meeting would also discuss the Administration's response to points raised by the Bills Committee at LC Paper No. CB(2) 2135/98-99(01) which was tabled at this meeting. Members agreed to schedule two more meetings on 3 June 1999 at 4:30 pm and 17 June 1999 at 2:30 pm.

45. The meeting ended at 10:37 am.

Legislative Council Secretariat
11 October 1999