LC Paper No. CB(2) 1489/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
Members present :
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 24th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 5:35 pm on Friday, 12 March 1999
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 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
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon NG Leung-sing
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 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 Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
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, JPMembers absent :
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wahClerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the special meeting held on 5 February 1999, Briefing by the Secretary for the Security at the 22nd meeting held on 5 February 1999 and 23rd meeting held on 26 February 1999
- 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
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Miss Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2
- 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
(LC Papers Nos. CB(2) 1434, 1435 & 1388/98-99)
1. The three sets of minutes were confirmed.II. Matters arising(a) Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
(b) Clubs (Safety of Premises)(Exclusion)(Amendment) Order 1999
|2. The Chairman said that he had informed CS of Members' strong wish for the Chief Executive to attend a meeting of the Council to discuss the three inquiry reports on the opening of the new airport. CS had undertaken to convey the request to the Chief Executive. The Chairman added that he had also written to the Chief Executive on the matter.||Chairman|
(LC Paper No. LS 130/98-99)
3. Referring to the Legal Service Division's further report set out in the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Administration had advised that the addition of the five club-houses to the Schedule to the Clubs (Safety of Premises) (Exclusion) Order was in accordance with Government's policy to exclude staff club-houses situated in Government premises from the application of the Clubs (Safety of Premises) Ordinance. According to the Administration, the five club-houses were situated on Government premises which were managed and maintained by either the Architectural Services Department (ArchSD) or the Housing Department (HD). Issues relating to the building and fire safety of these club-houses had been properly dealt with by both the user Departments and ArchSD or HD. The Administration has also advised that four of the five clubs had been operating the club-houses before the Exclusion Order was made.4. Members did not raise any query on the Amendment Order.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) Interpretation and General Clauses (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 111/98-99)
5. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper and said that the Bill sought to implement the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission made in its report published in March 1997 that the law regarding the extrinsic materials as an aid to statutory interpretation be codified and clarified. He was of the view that as the Bill was a significant legislative initiative in modifying common law principles, it merited detailed study by a Bills Committee
6. The Chairman added that the Consultation Paper issued by the Law Reform Commission on the subject had been discussed by the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services of the former LegCo. The Panel did not come to any conclusion as to whether the intended legislative reform was desirable. Mr Martin LEE suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join : Mr Albert HO Chun-yan (as advised by Mr Martin LEE), Mr Martin LEE Chu-ming, Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing and Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing.
(ii) Adaptation of Laws (No.5) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 119/98-99)
7. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill dealt with the adaptation of 10 ordinances and subsidiary legislation relating to land and building matters. The Legal Service Division was seeking clarification from the Administration on why certain amendments proposed in relation to the Aliens (Rights of Property) Ordinance, Lifts and Escalator (Safety) Ordinance and Demolished Buildings (Re-development of Sites) Ordinance were dealt with in the context of the Adaptation of Laws Programme. A further report would be made upon receiving the Administration's reply.
8. Referring to the proposed change in the definition of "alien" in the Aliens (Rights of Property) Ordinance, Mr Martin LEE asked whether a Chinese citizen residing in Hong Kong would have special rights to hold property, given that a Chinese citizen was not a Hong Kong permanent resident. The Legal Adviser responded that the proposed amendment did not intend to change the rights to hold immovable property in Hong Kong. He added that the query raised by Mr LEE was one of the points which the Legal Service Division had asked the Administration to clarify.
9. The Chairman suggested to defer decision on the Bill pending a further report from the Legal Services Division. Members agreed.
(iii) Adaptation of Laws (No.6) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 120/98-99)
10. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper and said that the Bill dealt with the adaptation of seven ordinances relating to health and welfare matters. In regard to the amendment proposed in the Bill concerning the deletion of the part in section 9 of the Emergency Relief Fund Ordinance relating to remittance to the Crown Agents, the Legal Service Division had asked the Administration to explain the meaning of the term "Crown Agents" and the legal implications of the proposed deletion. He pointed out that a similar proposal was made in the Adaptation of Laws (No.17) Bill 1998 to amend section 11 of the Social Work Training Fund Ordinance. The Legal Service Division had raised the same query but the Administration's reply had yet to be received.
11. The Legal Adviser added that apart from the query in relation to "Crown Agents", the Legal Service Division was satisfied that other proposed amendments were technical in nature and no outstanding points of general principle of the Adaptation of Laws exercise were involved. The Chairman suggested to defer decision on the Bill pending the Administration's reply to the query raised by the Legal Service Division. Members agreed.
(iv) Adaptation of Laws (No.7) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 124/98-99)
12. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill dealt with the adaptation of seven ordinances relating to financial services matters. The Legal Service Division had written to the Administration seeking confirmation as to whether the organizations that would be affected by the Bill had been consulted. The Legal Service Division was also seeking clarification on certain amendments to the Professional Accountants Ordinance proposed in the Bill.
13. The Chairman suggested that a decision on the Bill be deferred pending the Legal Service Division's further report. Members agreed.
(v) Companies (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 121/98-99)
14. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which detailed the major amendments proposed in the Bill dealing with merger relief, nationality of company directors and secretaries, deregistration of solvent and defunct private companies, as well as other miscellaneous amendments of a technical nature. He added that as some 40 clauses were proposed in the Bill, the Legal Service Division was still scrutinizing the Bill.
15. The Chairman said that as the Companies Ordinance was an important piece of legislation and given that the policy aspects of the Amendment Bill had not been discussed by the Economic Services Panel, a Bills Committee should be formed to study the Bill. Members agreed. The following members had agreed to join : Mr James TIEN Pei-chun, Mr Ho Sai-chu, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan (as advised by Mr LEE Wing-tat), Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee.
(b) Legal Service Division's reports on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 3 and 10 March 1999 (gazetted on 26 February 1999, 5 March 1999 and 9 March 1999)
(LC Papers No. LS 126 & LS 129/98-99)
16. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the subsidiary legislation detailed in the three papers.
17. Members raised no query on the subsidiary legislation.IV. Business for the Council meeting on 24 and 25 March 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1321/98-99)
18. Members noted the written questions set out in the paper.
(b) Bills - First and Second Readings
19. No notice had been received yet.
(c) Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading Appropriation Bill 1999
20. The Chairman informed members that in accordance with Rule 36(5) of the Rules of Procedure, Members would each have a maximum of 15 minutes to speak.
(a) Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1444/98-99)
21. The Chairman said that there were 13 Bills Committees and three subcommittees in action. The two vacant Bills Committee slots would be taken up by the Bills Committee on International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Bill on the waiting list and the Bills Committee on Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Amendment) Bill 1999 formed earlier at the meeting. The Bills Committee on the Companies (Amendment) Bill 1999 formed earlier under agenda item III(v) would be put on the waiting list.
(b) Report of the Bills Committee on Adaptation of Laws (No.3) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2)1465/98-99)
22. Introducing the paper on behalf of the Chairman of the Bills Committee, Miss Margaret NG, the Legal Adviser said that the majority of the members of the Bills Committee considered that the proposed repeal of the Smuggling into China (Control) Ordinance (SCCO) and its subsidiary legislation should not be dealt with under the Adaptation of Laws Programme. In response to the Bills Committee, the Administration had agreed to move Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) to remove the proposed repeal of the SCCO and its subsidiary legislation from the Bill. The Bills Committee had recommended that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 31 March 1999.
23. Mr Martin LEE asked whether smuggling offences would be dealt with under another ordinance if the SCCO was repealed. Assistant Legal Adviser 1 responded that smuggling offences had been dealt with under the Import and Export Ordinance (IEO) since its enactment in 1972.
24. Mr Andrew WONG was of the view that the proposed repeal of the SCCO could be dealt with in the context of the adaptation of laws exercise. He said that the purpose for not repealing the SCCO upon the enactment of the IEO in 1972 was to allow the Chinese Customs to patrol and take enforcement actions in Hong Kong waters within the delineated area (i.e. the waters in Mirs Bay and Deep bay north of the agreed line) laid down in the SCCO. Since 1972, smuggling offences had been dealt with entirely under the IEO. However, the delineated area continued to be used as a customary reference line, where the Mainland security vessels were allowed access north of the line.
25. Mr Martin LEE asked whether the Government of HKSAR would have the power to negotiate its boundary with the Mainland authorities upon the repeal of the SCCO. Mr Andrew WONG responded that the customary line had become obsolete following the promulgation of the boundary of HKSAR by the State Council on 1 July 1997. The boundary of HKSAR was therefore no longer a subject for negotiation after reunification.
(c) Report of the Bills Committee on Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 991/98-99)
26. Mrs Miriam LAU, Chairman of the Bills Committee, highlighted the main deliberations of the Bills Committee as detailed in the paper. She said that the majority of members of the Bills Committee did not support the proposed statutory limits for alcohol concentration. However, the Bills Committee considered it unnecessary to move a CSA objecting to the proposed change in the prescribed alcohol concentration limits, since the part in the relevant clause of the Bill relating to the proposal to tighten the prescribed limits would be voted on separately during the Committee Stage of the Bill.
27. Mrs LAU further said that the Bills Committee supported other parts of the Bill subject to the CSA to be moved by the Administration to add an express provision that a notice made by the Commissioner of Police designating a place or vehicle to be a breath test centre was not subsidiary legislation. Despite the Bills Committee's recommendation that the Second Reading debate on the bill be resumed on 31 March 1999, the Administration had indicated that it had yet to decide on the date for resumption of the Second Reading debate.
VI. Any other business
(a) Quorum of committee meetings
28. Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that under Rule 76 of the Rules of Procedure, the quorum of a Bills Committee would be three members including the chairman, or one-third of the members including the chairman attending the meeting, whichever was the greater. In the case of a Bills Committee with a large membership, e.g. the Bills Committee on the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 which had 32 members, the Committee might have difficulty in having a quorum for its meetings. He was of the view that to allow greater flexibility, Rule 76 should be changed to the effect that the minimum number of members of a Bills Committee to form a quorum should remain three members while a maximum number should be set at, say, five members.
29. The Chairman suggested that the matter be referred to the Committee on Rules of Procedure (CRoP) for consideration. Members agreed.
(b) Late membership of Financial Affairs Panel
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 994/98-99)
30. Referring to the paper, Mr Ambrose LAU, Chairman of the Financial Affairs Panel, briefed members on the background of the Panel seeking the House Committee's agreement to accept Mr Martin LEE as a member. Members expressed support for the Panel's recommendation.
31. Mrs Selina CHOW said that the CRoP had recently reviewed Rule 23 of the House Rules concerning late membership of committees. It concluded that Rule 23 of the House Rules should be amended to allow committees to decide whether to accept late membership on grounds other than indisposition or absence from Hong Kong. Any member whose application was turned down could appeal to the House Committee.
32. The Chairman proposed that the CRoP should provide a paper setting out the above proposal for the House Committee's consideration at the next meeting. Members agreed.
(c) Progress of Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance exercise in Government and non-government organizations providing essential services
(Speaking note for Mr SIN Chung-kai (Chinese version only) tabled at the meeting)
33. The Chairman said that Mr SIN Chung-kai was unable to attend the meeting but had tabled his speaking note for members' information. The Chairman explained that in view of the importance of the Y2K compliance issue, the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting had urged that all other Panels should closely monitor the compliance position of Government departments and non-government organizations funded or regulated by Government falling within the purview of the respective Panels.
34. Mr MA Fung-kwok said that at the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting meeting on 8 March 1999, members were advised by the Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting that the Information Technology and Broadcasting Bureau (ITTB) only assumed a coordinating role in the Y2K compliance exercise within Government. The Panel was also informed that individual Policy Bureau would assume responsibility for Y2K compliance by governments departments and non-government organizations funded or regulated by Government in respect of their respective policy areas.
35. Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that in order to enable members to have an overall picture on the progress made within the Government and non-government organizations providing essential services in the Y2K compliance exercise, it would be useful if the Secretariat could provide progress reports periodically, say at three-monthly interval, for members' information.
36. Miss Emily LAU expressed concern about the serious consequences if the Y2K exercise was not completed in time. She urged members to closely monitor the progress of Y2K compliance in the policy areas under their respective Panels.
37. Mr LAW Chi-kwong pointed out that each Policy Bureau had been requested by ITTB to submit a Y2K contingency plan by the end of June 1999. ITTB would brief members of the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting on these contingency plans in July 1999.
38. Mr Martin LEE remarked that the Government did not appear to be taking the matter seriously. He questioned whether, in assuming a co-ordinating role, ITTB would be able to provide the necessary monitoring and guidance for the parties involved, given the complexity and enormity of the Y2K compliance exercise.
39. Mr ARCULLI shared Mr LEE's view and requested the Chairman to raise this matter at his next meeting with CS.
40. Miss CHOY So-yuk echoed the views expressed by Miss Emily LAU and Mr ARCULLI and said that the Government should be urged to ensure that it would complete the Y2K compliance exercise on schedule.
41. The Chairman said that he would raise with CS that the Y2K compliance exercise should be steered at the highest level of Government. The Panels would also closely monitor the progress of work in this regard within their respective policy areas. He further sought members' view as to whether a subcommittee should be set up under the House Committee to coordinate matters. Mr Martin LEE expressed agreement.
42. Mr LAW Chi-kwong said that it would be more appropriate for individual Panels to follow up the matter by policy areas. He added that he was involved in the Y2K compliance exercise of some social service agencies and he did not think that Government had not treated the Y2K compliance exercise seriously.
43. Miss Emily LAU added that the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting had considered the desirability of setting up a subcommittee under the House Committee to oversee the monitoring of Y2K compliance exercise within Government and in non-government organizations providing essential services. The Panel concluded that it would be more suitable for the Panels concerned to follow up.
44. The Chairman suggested that a decision on whether a subcommittee should be formed to coordinate could be considered at a later stage. Members agreed.
(d) Council meeting on 10 March 1999
45. Miss Emily LAU said that appropriate arrangements should be made to allow time for Members to rest during exceptionally long Council meetings. She suggested that in future, consideration should be given to starting the meeting earlier or scheduling the meeting to take place on two consecutive days.
|46. The Chairman said that he would raise this matter with the President.
47. The meeting ended at 6:38 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
17 March 1999