LC Paper No. CB(2) 38/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 3rd meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber
at 3:20 pm on Friday, 10 July 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
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
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 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 CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
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
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 Chin-shek, JP
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
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Members absent :
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, 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-sang
- 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 Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Ms Eva LIU
- Head, Research and Library Services
- Ms Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Ms Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Miss Odelia LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
- Mrs Vivian KAM
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5
- Mr LAW Wing-lok
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)5
- Mrs Betty LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (3)1
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (3)3
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 1st meeting held on 3 July 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 6/98-99)
The minutes were confirmed.
II. Business arising from previous Council meetings
(a) Legal Service Division's report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
Holidays (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 2/98-99)
2. The Legal Adviser said that the object of the Amendment Bill was to delete the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day (the third Monday in August) and 2 October (the day following National Day) from the Schedule of general holidays, and to replace them with the Labour Day (the first day of May) and the Buddha's Birthday (the eighth day of the fourth lunar month) from 1999 onwards. The Amendment Bill also sought to change the short title of "Holidays Ordinance" to that of "General Holidays Ordinance". The legal and drafting aspects of the Amendment Bill were in order.
3. The Legal Adviser further said that the information detailed in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the paper under the respective headings of 'Public Consultation' and 'Consultation with the LegCo Panel' was not legal opinion, but was provided for members' reference only. He added that such information would be included in future reports on bills prepared by the Legal Service Division.
4. Mr Albert HO said that some members of the public had expressed strong views about the deletion of the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day as a general holiday. He suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join : Mr HO Sai-chu, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung, Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo, Mr SZETO Wah and Mr Howard YOUNG.
5. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee should complete its deliberations and report to the House Committee by 17 July 1998, in order that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed on 29 July 1998 before the summer break.
(b) Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 8 July 1998 (gazetted on 3 and 6 July 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 7/98-99)
6. The Legal Adviser said that the report covered the seven items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 3 and 6 July 1998. Referring to the Fugitive Offenders (New Zealand) Order, he said that the Order specified that the procedures in the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (23 of 1997) should apply between Hong Kong and New Zealand. He pointed out that the Council had no authority to amend it but could repeal the Order by resolution.
7. Mr James TO said that the Subcommittee formed to study the subsidiary legislation gazetted between 13 March 1998 and 26 June 1998 had requested the Administration to provide a detailed comparison of the Agreement signed between Hong Kong and The Republic of Singapore for the surrender of fugitive offenders with the model agreement on which similar bilateral agreements were based. He suggested that the Fugitive Offenders (New Zealand) Order be studied by the Subcommittee. Members agreed.
8. Members raised no queries on the remaining six items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
III. Business for the Council meeting on 22 July 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 45/98-99)
9. The Chairman advised members that 17 questions (six oral and 11 written) had been scheduled. He reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of questions was 13 July 1998.
(b) Bill - First and Second Readings
Fisheries Protection (Amendment) Bill 1998
10. The Chairman said that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 22 July 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 24 July 1998.
(c) Government motions
(i) Resolution under section 5(3)(b) of the Public Bus Services Ordinance (Cap. 230) - to be moved by Secretary for Transport
(LC Paper No. LS 8/98-99)
11. The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the resolution was to seek the Legislative Council's approval to exclude the application of the profit control scheme to the new franchise granted by the Chief Executive in Council to the New World First Bus Services Limited ("the New Bus"). The legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order.
12. Mr LEE Wing-tat expressed concern about the transfer of bus depots and buses from the China Motor Bus Company Limited to the New Bus. He suggested that the Administration be asked to give a briefing on the matter either before a subcommittee or to the Panel on Transport.
13. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the matter raised by Mr LEE should be followed up by the Panel on Transport.
14. Members raised no other queries on the resolution.
(ii) Resolution under section 2(3) of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123) - to be moved by Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
(LC Paper No. LS 10/98-99)
15. The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the resolution was to update the plans of the railway protection areas along the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) lines to take into account the changes that had been made to the MTR system since 1989. The legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order.
16. Members raised no queries on the resolution.
(iii) Resolution under section 4(2) of the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Cap. 109) - to be moved by Secretary for the Treasury
(LC Paper No. LS 9/98-99)
17. The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the resolution was to seek the Council's approval to reduce the duty on light diesel oil from $2.89 per litre to $2.00 per litre from 23 June 1998 to 31 March 1999. He added that the reduction of the duty was one of the nine measures announced by the Government on 22 June 1998 to revive the economy. The legal and drafting aspects of the resolution were in order.
18. Members raised no queries on the resolution.
(iv) Resolution under section 48A of the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) - to be moved by Secretary for Education and Manpower
(LC Paper No. LS 12/98-99)
(v) Resolution under section 40 of the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 360) - to be moved by Secretary for Education and Manpower
(LC Paper No. LS 13/98-99)
19. The Legal Adviser said that the two resolutions sought to revise with effect from 1 August 1998 the levels of compensation under the Employees' Compensation Ordinance and the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance respectively. He added that the proposed revisions, which had taken into account the price or wage movements from 1 January 1996 to 31 December 1998, had been endorsed by the Labour Advisory Board. The Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board also endorsed the proposed levels of compensation under the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance. The legal and drafting aspects of the resolutions were in order.
20. Mr LEE Cheuk-yan and Mr Andrew CHENG opined that the proposed revisions were inadequate and suggested a subcommittee be formed to study the resolution. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join the subcommittee : Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Mr Bernard CHAN, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung and Mr Andrew CHENG. The Chairman said that the Administration would be asked to withdraw the notice of moving the resolutions on 22 July 1998.
21. The Chairman advised members that if the notice of the three resolutions in (i) - (iii) above were not withdrawn, the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the three resolutions would be 15 July 1998.
(d) Members' motions
(i) Motion on "Ensuring employment opportunities for local personnel engaging in infrastructural projects"
22. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Dr Raymond HO Chung-tai.
(ii) Motion on "Restructuring Hong Kong's economy"
23. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Miss CHAN Yuen-han.
24. The Chairman advised members that the deadline of giving notice of amendments to the above motions was 15 July 1998.
IV.Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 29 July 1998
(a) Government motions
25. No notice had been received.
(b) Members' motions
(i) Motion on "Review of district organisations"
26. Members noted that Mr Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum had been allocated a debate slot.
(ii) Motion on "Central harbour reclamation"
27. Members noted that Miss Christine LOH had been allocated a debate slot.
28. The Chairman advised members that the deadlines for giving notice of and amendments, if any, to, the above motions were 14 July 1998 and 22 July 1998 respectively.
V. Election of Members to Standing Committees
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 19/98-99 issued vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 3/98-99 on 3 July 1998)
29. The Chairman said that at the meeting on 6 July 1998, members endorsed the procedure for election of members for appointment to the following committees. He invited members to make nominations for them for appointment by the President. The following members were elected -
(a) Election of seven Members to Public Accounts Committee
Mr David CHU Yu-lin
Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung
Mr Fred LI Wah-ming
Mr NG Leung-sing
Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun
Mr LAU Kong-wah
Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing
(b) Election of seven Members to Committee on Members' Interests
Mr David CHU Yu-lin
Mr HO Sai-chu
Miss Cyd HO Sau-lan
Mr NG Leung-sing
Mr Bernard CHAN
Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung
Mr SIN Chung-kai
(c) Election of 12 Members to Committee on Rules of Procedure
Mr LEE Wing-tat
Mr LEE Cheuk-yan
Mr Martin LEE Chu-ming
Miss Margaret NG
Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee
Mr Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum
Miss CHAN Yuen-han
Dr LEONG Che-hung
Mr Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Mr Andrew WONG Wang-fat
Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee
Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing
[The meeting was suspended for 10 minutes to allow the Members elected to the above committees to elect from among themselves the Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the committees concerned.]
30. Members noted that -
- Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung and Mr Fred LI Wah-ming were elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee respectively;
- Mr David CHU Yu-lin and Mr SIN Chung-kai were elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Members' Interests respectively; and
- Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee and Miss Margaret NG were elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Rules of Procedure respectively.
VI. Election of Members to Advisory Bodies
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2/98-99 issued vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 3/98-99 on 3 July 1998)
31. The Chairman said that at the meeting on 6 July 1998, members endorsed the nomination and election procedure of members for appointment to the following advisory bodies. He invited members to make nominations for them. The following members were elected -
(a) Election of two Members to Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee
32. There being three nominations, an election was held. The results of the election were as follows -
- Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun received 33 votes;
- Mr LAU Chin-shek received 31 votes; and
- Miss CHAN Yuen-han received 23 votes.
33. The Chairman declared that Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun and Mr LAU Chin-shek were elected for appointment to the Disaster Relief Fund Advisory Committee.
(b) Election of one Member to Po Leung Kuk Advisory Board
34. Mr David CHU Yu-lin was elected for appointment to the Po Leung Kuk Advisory Board.
(c) Election of one Member to Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Advisory Board
35. There being two nominations, an election was held. The results of the election were as follows -
- Mr Gary CHENG Kai-nam received 31 votes; and
- Professor NG Ching-fai received 11 votes.
36. The Chairman declared that Mr Gary CHENG Kai-nam was elected for appointment to the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Advisory Board.
(d) Election of three Members to Council of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
37. Messrs James TIEN Pei-chun, CHEUNG Man-kwong and CHAN Kam-lam were elected for appointment to the Council of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
VII. Report of the Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation gazetted from 13 March 1998 to 26 June 1998
38. Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the Subcommittee, reported that the Subcommittee had held its first meeting on 9 July 1998 to scrutinize 36 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted between 13 March 1998 and 26 June 1998, most of which were Commencement Notices. The Subcommittee did not raise any objection to the 12 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted between 13 March 1998 and 3 April 1998.
39. Mr ARCULLI further said that the Subcommittee would next meet on 15 July 1998 to scrutinize the remaining 25 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted between 9 April 1998 and 26 June 1998. He advised members that if they had any views on the subsidiary legislation, they should submit their views to the Subcommittee by 5:00 pm on Monday, 13 July 1998. The Chairman added that the scrutiny period of these items of subsidiary legislation would expire on 29 July 1998, or 9 September 1998, if extended by resolution.
40. Mr ARCULLI said that the Subcommittee would also study the Fugitive Offenders (New Zealand) Order at the meeting on 15 July 1998. Members who were interested in studying the Order were welcome to join the Subcommittee.
41. Mr LEE Wing-tat and Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung said that they intended to move separate resolutions to amend the Housing (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 1998 (27 of 1998) (Commencement) Notice 1998. The Chairman advised that the deadline for giving notice of amendments was 22 July 1998, if no extension of the scrutiny period was sought.
VIII. Operation of the Hong Kong International Airport
42. The Chairman referred members to the following papers tabled at the meeting -
- a letter from Mr LAU Kong-wah to the Chairman of the House Committee dated 9 July 1998 requesting the formation of a select committee to inquire into the chaos at the new airport;
- a letter from the Chief Secretary for Administration to the Chairman of the House Committee dated 10 July 1998 regarding the appointment of an independent team by the Chief Executive to investigate the various problems that had arisen at the new airport; and
- a press statement released by the Government Information Services Department on 10 July 1998 regarding the appointment of an independent team to examine the airport operation.
43. The Chairman said that the Chief Executive had decided to appoint an independent team, headed by a leading member of the local community and including two international experts, to investigate into the operations in the new airport. The team would conduct an independent investigation into the various problems that had arisen, including baggage handling, flight information and breakdown of the cargo system at HACTL etc. and whether any person should be held responsible. CS had indicated to him that the appointment of a LegCo Member to the team would be considered.
44. Dr Philip WONG declared interest as he was a member of the Airport Authority Board.
45. Mr LAU Kong-wah expressed concern about whether the team would be able to carry out an independent and in-depth investigation into the problems at the new airport, given the complexity and enormity of the problems and whether the international experts had sufficient local experience. He said that given the fact that remedial actions were being undertaken by the Administration and the Airport Authority to address the problems, he felt that members should wait for details of the membership, terms of reference and time-frame for the work of the team before taking a view as to whether the Council should set up a select committee to conduct its own inquiries.
46. Some members were of the view that the decision of the Chief Executive to appoint an investigating team was clearly an attempt to pre-empt the Council from setting up a select committee to investigate into the problems of the new airport. They considered that its membership was not representative enough and its scope of work too restrictive. They also expressed reservations about the team's credibility and accountability. They were particularly concerned that the community was unlikely to have much confidence in the impartiality of a body which would report its findings and recommendations to the authority who appointed its membership.
47. These members also pointed out that unlike a commission of inquiry established by statute, the team had limited powers in conducting its inquiries. A select committee on the other hand could exercise the powers available under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance to order the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents. They also pointed out that there had been occasions in the past where the Government and the legislature conducted separate inquiries into the same subject matter concurrently, and they failed to see any reasons why the team appointed by the Chief Executive and a select committee set up by the Council could not undertake separate inquiries in parallel. They were therefore of the view that a select committee should be set up by way of a resolution within the month of July so that the select committee could commence work as soon as possible after its establishment.
48. Some other members shared the view that a select committee should be set up in spite of the Chief Executive's decision to appoint an independent team. They considered, however, that the priority now was to let the Government and the Airport Authority get on with their tasks of identifying problems and taking prompt remedial actions to address those problems. They opined that it would be more appropriate for the independent team, which had the relevant expertise, to first investigate the problems that had arisen, particularly those of a technical nature. They therefore suggested that a select committee should be set up in the first instance but the select committee would not commence work for a period of not more than three months to allow time for the independent team to complete its investigations and submit its report to the Chief Executive. The select committee would then determine how it would proceed with its own inquiries. The select committee would also ask for a copy of the report of the Government independent team.
[During the course of discussion, the Chairman suspended the meeting twice to allow members to informally discuss among themselves the time-frame for the setting up of a select committee and commencement of its work.]
49. At the end of the discussion, the Chairman said that whilst members were in general agreement that a select committee should be set up by way of a resolution within July, there were divided views as to whether the select committee -
- would first await the outcome of the investigation undertaken by the independent team and would not commence work for a period of not more than three months as proposed in paragraph 48 above; or
- would commence work as soon as possible after it was set up as proposed in paragraph 47 above.
50. The Chairman put the proposal set out in paragraph 49(a) above to the vote first. There were 32 votes for and 15 votes against the proposal, with one abstention by Dr Philip WONG. The Chairman declared that the proposal in paragraph 49(a) above was agreed.
51. Members agreed to form a subcommittee to undertake preparatory work for the setting up of a select committee. The Chairman said that the subcommittee would propose the terms of reference and size of the select committee and submit recommendations for the consideration of the House Committee which would, upon the Council's approval of the resolution, submit its recommendations on size and membership to the President for decision and appointment. The Secretariat would issue a circular inviting members to join the subcommittee.
52. Mrs Selina CHOW said that the nine-day suspension of air cargo operations at the new airport would take a huge toll on the economy. She suggested that the House Committee should convey to the Administration that this suspension was totally unacceptable and urge that prompt remedial action be taken. Members agreed. The Chairman undertook to write to CS.
IX Any other business
(a) Setting up of Subcommittee on Review of Allowances for Members of the Legislative Council
(A letter from Hon Christine LOH dated 6 July 1998 attached and tabled at the meeting)
53. The Chairman suggested and members agreed to set up a Subcommittee on Review of Allowances for Members of the Legislative Council to look into the problem raised in Miss Christine LOH's letter and other related matters.
(b) Deadline for signification of membership for Panels
54. The Chairman reminded members that the deadline to signify membership for the 17 Panels was noon, 11 July 1998. He added that a Panel could not be formed if less than six members signed up.
55. The meeting ended at 6:05 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
15 July 1998