LC Paper No. CB(2) 593/98-99

Ref : CB2/H/5

House Committee of the Legislative Council

Minutes of the 12th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 2:30 pm on Friday, 6 November 1998

Members present :

Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Deputy Chairman)
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 Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
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 James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, 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 Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members absent :

Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Clerk to the House Committee
Staff in attendance :

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

Assistant Secretary General 3

Ms Bernice WONG
Assistant Legal Adviser 1

Mr KAU Kin-wah
Assistant Legal Adviser 6

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)

Miss Kathleen LAU
Chief Public Information Officer

Miss Odelia LEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1

Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2

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 11th meeting held on 30 October 1998

(LC Paper No. CB(2) 543/98-99)

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 CS had indicated that the Administration would endeavour to provide a forecast of the timing of introduction of bills every one to two months.

3. The Chairman informed members that he had written to CS conveying Members' suggestion of having public officers speak both at the beginning and towards the end of a debate on a Member's motion.

III.Business arising from previous Council meetings

(a)Legal Service Division's reports on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)

(i)Introduction of the Euro Bill

(LC Paper No. LS 39/98-99)

4. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought

to provide for certain matters consequent upon the adoption of the Euro as the single currency of the participating member states of the European Union. He added that the introduction of the Euro could have a significant effect on the local financial market and the Legal Service Division was seeking clarification from the Administration on certain legal and drafting aspects of the Bill.

5. The Chairman invited members to consider whether a Bills Committee should be set up to study the Bill. Mr James TIEN suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee. The following members agreed to join : Mr James TIEN, Mr Albert HO, Miss Christine LOH, Mr SIN Chung-kai and Mr Howard YOUNG.

(ii) Immigration (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1998

(LC Paper No. LS 45/98-99)

6. The Legal Adviser explained that the Bill sought, firstly, to extend to APEC Business Travel Card and Travel Pass the existing penal provisions in the principal ordinance relating to false statements, forgery of documents and the use and possession of forged documents; and secondly, to penalise a construction site controller for the employment of persons not lawfully employable on the site. He said that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.

7. The Chairman said that members of the Panel on Security had raised certain issues relating to the employment of illegal workers on construction sites at the Panel meeting on 3 September 1998. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join : Mr HO Sai-chu, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr Ronald ARCULLI and Mr James TO.

(b)Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 4 November 1998 (gazetted on 23 October 1998)

(LC Paper No. LS 51/98-99)

8. Members raised no queries on the six items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 23 October 1998.

IV.Further business for the Council meeting on 11 November 1998

Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading

Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 1998

9. The Chairman said that members had agreed at the meeting on 23 October 1998 that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.

V.Business for the Council meeting on 18 November 1998


(LC Paper No. CB(3) 559/98-99)

10. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

(b)Bills - First and Second Readings

(i)Industrial Training (Clothing Industry) (Amendment) Bill 1998

(ii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 7) Bill 1998

(iii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 8) Bill 1998

11. Members noted that the above three Bills would be introduced into the Council on 18 November 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 20 November 1998.

(c)Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading

Securities (Amendment) Bill 1998

12. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee formed to study the Bill would report under agenda item VII(ii).

(d)Government motions

13. No notice had been received yet.

(e)Members' motions

(i)Motion on "Amending legislation to regulate wage reduction"

14. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr CHAN Wing-chan.

(ii)Motion on "Resumption of land sales"

15. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr LEE Wing-tat.

16. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 11 November 1998. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.

VI.Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 25 November 1998

Members' motions

(i)Motion on "Information technology strategy"

17. Members noted that Mr SIN Chung-kai had been allocated a debate slot.

(ii)Motion on "Improving air quality"

18. Members noted that Mr Edward HO had been allocated a debate slot.

19. The Chairman informed members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions, and notice of amendments (if any) to the motions, were 10 and 18 November 1998 respectively. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.


(i)Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees

(LC Paper No. CB(2) 556/98-99)

20. The Chairman said that there were nine Bills Committees and three subcommittees on subsidiary legislation, including the two Bills Committees formed earlier at the meeting.

21. The Chairman said that under Rule 22(d) of the House Rules, a Member who joined the Council after the start of the legislative session should signify membership for the Panels of his choice within one month of the date on which he was declared elected as Member of the Council. He suggested that the rule should also apply to Bills Committees and subcommittees so that Mr FUNG Chi-kin and Dr TANG Siu-tong could signify membership for the Bills Committees and subcommittees of their choice. Members agreed. The Chairman said that the House Rules would be amended accordingly.

(ii)Report of the Bills Committee on Securities (Amendment) Bill 1998

(LC Paper No. CB(1) 421/98-99)

22. Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the Bills Committee, introduced the paper which detailed the main deliberations of the Bills Committee. He said that apart from the Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) to be moved by the Administration as mentioned in the paper, a member of the Bills Committee had given notice to move CSAs to the Bill in his own capacity. He added that one of the amendments proposed by the member might have "charging effect" as it sought to increase the per claimant compensation limit from $150,000 to $200,000.

23. Mr ARCULLI reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of CSAs to the Bill was 9 November 1998.

(iii)Report of the subcommittee on Subsidiary Legislation made under the Estate Agents Ordinance (Cap. 511) Gazetted on
16 October 1998

24. Mr Andrew CHENG, Chairman of the subcommittee, said that the subcommittee had completed detailed scrutiny of the three items of subsidiary legislation concerned, namely the Estate Agents (Licensing) Regulation, Estate Agents (Exemption From Licensing) Order and the Estate Agents Ordinance (Cap. 511) (Commencement) Notice 1998 at its meeting on 5 November 1998. The Administration had agreed to make technical amendments in response to the subcommittee's views. However, the subcommittee had yet to reach an agreement regarding the minimum period of estate agency work in Hong Kong which an individual should have in order to become qualified as an "existing practitioner". Some members of the subcommittee were of the view that a minimum period of three months within the period of 18 months immediately before 1 January 1999 should be set. Some other subcommittee members considered that a minimum period of six months within the same period of time would be more appropriate. He was hopeful that the subcommittee would come to a consensus within the next couple of days.

25. Mr CHENG Kai-nam declared his interest as a member of the Estate Agents Authority. He said that the Estate Agents (Licensing) Regulation and the Estate Agents (Exemption From Licensing) Order would take effect on 19 November 1998. This was to allow sufficient time for the Estate Agents Authority to invite and process applications, given that the licensing regime was targetted to be implemented on 1 January 1999. There might be problems if the scrutiny period was to be extended to 25 November 1998. He asked whether it was necessary for the subcommittee to make a further report to the House Committee on 13 November 1998.

26. The Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice of a motion to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 18 November 1998 was 11 November 1998.

27. Mr Andrew CHENG said that the subcommittee would be in a position to issue a written report early next week detailing the subcommittee's deliberations and recommendations for members' consideration prior to the deadline for giving notice of motion to amend the subsidiary legislation.

28. Mr LEE Wing-tat said that generally speaking, in determining the date on which an item of subsidiary legislation was to take effect, the Administration should take into consideration the fact that Members might need to extend the scrutiny period. He suggested the Chairman to raise the matter with CS. Members agreed. Chairman

VIII.Any other business

(a)Attendance of senior government officials at meetings of LegCo committees

(A letter from the Secretary for Justice dated 5 November 1998 tabled at the meeting)

29. The Chairman referred members to the Secretary for Justice's (S for J) letter in which S for J explained why she attended the Administration's briefing for the press on the CHEUNG Tze-keung case and the Telford Garden case held at the LegCo Building on 3 November 1998, but not the closed door meeting of the Panel on Security held immediately before the press briefing.

30. Miss Emily LAU said that S for J should have briefed the Panel on Security on the two cases prior to the Administration's press briefing. She pointed out that although it would be up to the Administration to decide which public officers should attend a particular meeting of a LegCo committee, Members had always hoped that the most senior officers from the bureau or department concerned would attend as far as possible, particularly where issues of wide public concern were to be discussed. Mr Edward HO and Mrs Selina CHOW echoed Miss LAU's views.

31. Mr James TO said that the Panel had not specifically asked for certain public officers to attend the Panel meeting on 3 November 1998. He added that some of the points relating to the legal basis for the two cases to be tried in the Mainland made by the S for J at the press briefing were useful, but they were not touched on at all by the representatives of the Department of Justice who attended the Panel meeting.

32. Mr Albert HO said that had S for J attended the Panel meeting on 3 November 1998, she would have better understood the concerns of Members about the two cases, and she would not have made the criticisms which she levelled at some Members as reported in the media the following day.

33. The Chairman said that he would convey members' views to CS and S for J.Chairman

34. In reply to Miss Margaret NG, the Secretary General said that the press room and the press conference room on the first floor of the LegCo Building were for Members' exclusive use. However, representatives of the Administration had always been allowed to use, for instance, the corridors on the first floor to give stand-up press briefings.

(b)LegCo Members' remuneration

35. The Chairman said that the Secretariat would shortly issue a circular attaching a sample authorization form for use by Members who wished to reduce their monthly remuneration to pre-October 1998 level. He further said that Members who wished to donate the increased amount to charitable organizations should make their own arrangements.

36. The meeting ended at 3:14 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
11 November 1998