LC Paper No. CB(2) 837/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 16th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 2:30 pm on Friday, 4 December 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members absent :
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
- Mr Ricky C C FUNG, JP
- Secretary General
- Mr Jimmy MA, JP
- Legal Adviser
- Mr LAW Kam-sang, JP
- Deputy Secretary General
- Mr LEE Yu-sung
- Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
- Ms Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mr Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Miss Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Ms Estella CHAN
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4
- Mr LAW Wing-lok
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)5
- Mrs Betty LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (3)1
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 15th meeting held on 27 November 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 764/98-99)
1. The minutes were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. The Chairman said that he had emphasized to CS that the Administration should adhere to the timing of introduction of the bills specified in the 1998/99 Legislative Programme. CS had undertaken to remind policy bureaux to avoid "bunching" and not to leave introduction of most of the bills to the end of the legislative session.
3. Miss Emily LAU said that in cases where the Administration requested at short notice to brief the relevant Panels on legislative proposals prior to their introduction into the Council, the Panels concerned should accommodate such requests as far as possible. The Chairman added that it was important that the Council should play its part in facilitating the early introduction of legislative proposals into the Council.
4. The Chairman said that he had conveyed to CS Miss Margaret NG's view that detailed scrutiny of the Adaptation of Laws bills would be necessary if the proposed amendments were not purely technical drafting changes. He added that if it was found that certain amendments sought to introduce policy changes, it would be for Members' consideration as to whether the amendments in question should be supported.
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings
IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 9 December 1998
- Legal Service Division's report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
(i) Adaptation of Laws (No. 10) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 66/98-99)
5. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the amendments proposed in the No. 10 Bill, which dealt with the adaptation of the Companies Ordinance and three other ordinances, were essentially technical drafting changes.
6. The Chairman suggested and members agreed to defer consideration of the No. 10 Bill until the Bills Committees on the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and the Adaptation of Laws (No. 2) Bill 1998 had completed work.
(ii) Theft (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 71/98-99)
7. The Legal Adviser said that the main proposals of the Bill were to create a statutory offence of fraud and retain the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud. He added that the Bill differed from the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission Report in that the offence of fraud proposed in the Bill would not be restricted to financial or proprietary loss or gain and that the common law offence of conspiracy to defraud would be retained.
8. The Chairman said that the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong had made submissions on the Bill to the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services. Members of the Panel had also expressed concern about certain aspects of the Bill. Miss Margaret NG suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join : Miss Margaret NG, Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee and Mr Andrew CHENG.
(iii) Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 67/98-99)
9. The Legal Adviser said that Bill proposed the following amendments to the Road Traffic Ordinance -
10. The Chairman said that as the Bill sought to introduce policy changes in various areas, members might wish to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested and members agreed that a Bills Committee should be formed. The following members agreed to join : Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Dr Raymond HO Chung-tai, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr LAU Kong-wah, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, Mr TAM Yiu-chung and Dr TANG Siu-tong.
- tightening the statutory limits for alcohol concentration in a driver's blood, urine and breath and streamlining the procedures for enforcing control on drink driving;
- extending the passenger service licence scheme to private light buses providing a transport service for students; and
- rectifying the existing payment arrangements for management agreements for parking meters and vehicle examination centres, which were inconsistent with the provisions of the Public Finance Ordinance.
- Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 2 December 1998 (gazetted on 27 November 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 72/98-99)
11. The Legal Adviser said that the report covered the six items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 27 November 1998.
12. Referring to the Legal Practitioners (Fees) (Amendment) Rule 1998, the Legal Adviser informed members that the Legal Service Division had written to the Judiciary Administrator seeking clarification on whether any rule on such fees should be made by the Chief Justice under section 72 or by the Bar Council under section 30(1) and (4) of the Legal Practitioners Ordinance. Miss Margaret NG said that it was a matter of principle that the Bar Council should regulate the fees payable in respect of practising certificates of barristers. She added that it might be necessary to form a subcommittee to examine the Amendment Rule, depending on the Judiciary Administrator's reply.
13. The Chairman suggested that the scrutiny period of the Amendment Rule should be extended from 16 December 1998 to 6 January 1999. Members agreed.
14. Members raised no queries on the other five items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
Hotel Accommodation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1998
15. The Chairman said that members agreed at the last meeting that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 16 December 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 796/98-99)
16. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
- Bills - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
(i) Introduction of the Euro Bill
(ii) Industrial Training (Clothing Industry) (Amendment) Bill 1998
17. The Chairman said that members agreed at the last meeting that the Second Reading debate on the two Bills be resumed.
- Members' motions
(i) Motion on "Combating pirated compact discs"
18. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee.
(ii) Motion on "Reducing the weight of school bags"
19. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong.
20. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 9 December 1998. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
VII. Any other business
- Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 768/98-99)
21. The Chairman said that there were 13 Bills Committees and three subcommittees in action, including the two Bills Committees formed earlier at the meeting.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Introduction of the Euro Bill
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 555/98-99)
22. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee Chairman, Mr Howard YOUNG, had made a verbal report at the last meeting. Members did not raise any queries on the deliberations of the Bills Committee detailed in the paper.
- Report of the Subcommittee on Professional Accountants (Amendment) Bylaw 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 780/98-99)
23. Referring members to the paper, the Chairman said that the subcommittee Chairman, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, had reported at the last meeting that the subcommittee recommended that the Amendment Bylaw be supported.
Proposed creation of a new post of Information Coordinator in the Chief Executive's Office
24. Miss Emily LAU said that the Administration had not followed the established practice of consulting the relevant Panels before submitting the proposal of creating a new post of Information Coordinator at D8 level in the Chief Executive's Office to the Establishment Subcommittee (ESC) for consideration on 9 December 1998. She suggested that the Chairman should, at his next meeting with CS, request the Administration to withdraw the proposal and refer it to the relevant Panels for discussion in the first instance. Several members echoed Miss LAU's views.
25. Mr TSANG Yok-sing enquired why the creation of the Information Coordinator post had to be discussed by the relevant Panel first, given that the role of ESC was to consider requests for variations in the establishment of the civil service and make recommendations to the Finance Committee (FC).
26. Miss Margaret NG said that it was not unusual for the Administration to brief the relevant Panels on proposals to create new posts. She pointed out that the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services had recently been briefed on the proposal to create a new rank of Chief Court Prosecutor with a pay scale of MPS 40-44.
27. Mr TAM Yiu-chung said that it would undermine the efficient operation of the Panel on Public Service if all ESC items had to be discussed by the Panel first. He asked the Secretariat to provide information on the number of proposals which had been referred to the relevant Panels for consultation prior to consideration by ESC. Assistant Secretary General 1 (ASG1) said that about 50% of the time the Administration would provide to the relevant Panels information papers on the creation of posts which involved a change of government policy and/or operation. If the Panels concerned considered it necessary for the Administration to brief them on the proposals, such briefings would be arranged. ASG1 added that if the financial proposal in question was a major one, the Secretariat would remind the Administration to consult the relevant Panel.
28. In reply to Mr TAM Yiu-chung's question on whether the proposal to create the Director of the Beijing Office post was discussed by the relevant Panels, ASG1 said that the Panel on Constitutional Affairs and the Panel on Public Service held a joint meeting to discuss the establishment of the Beijing Office, which included the creation of the Director of the Beijing Office post.
29. The Secretary General said that according to rule 22(q) of the House Rules, the relevant Panels should be consulted first before a major and/or potentially controversial legislative or financial proposal was introduced into the Council or FC. In the event that the relevant Panel had not been consulted, the House Committee or FC could decide whether to refer the proposal to the relevant Panel for consideration.
30. Mr TSANG Yok-sing said that as the proposal had been placed on the agenda of the ESC meeting on 9 December 1998, it would be for ESC to decide whether the proposal should be referred to the relevant Panel for discussion.
31. Mr Martin LEE said that the proposal was both a major and controversial one and should be referred to the relevant Panel for discussion in the first instance in accordance with rule 22(q).
32. Mrs Selina CHOW pointed out that depending on the circumstances, there had been different treatment for different proposals. She added that rule 22(q) should be applied in a flexible manner.
|33. Members agreed that a vote should be taken on Miss Emily LAU's suggestion that the Chairman should ask the Administration to withdraw the proposal from the agenda of the ESC meeting on 9 December 1998 and to consult the relevant Panels. The result was that 21 members voted in favour of Miss LAU's suggestion and 17 members voted against. The Chairman said that he would raise the matter at his meeting with CS on 7 December 1998.
34. The meeting ended at 3:34 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
16 December 1998