LC Paper No. CB(2) 647/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 13th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 3:10 pm on Friday, 13 November 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, 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 Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
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 CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
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 LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members absent :
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
I.Confirmation of the minutes of the 12th meeting held on 6 November 1998
- 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
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- 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
- Ms Sharon CHUNG
- Senior Public Information Officer 2
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 593/98-99)
1. The minutes were confirmed.
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. The Chairman said that he had conveyed to CS Members' view that the most senior officials in the relevant bureau or department should attend meetings of LegCo committees. CS had responded that the Administration aimed at sending government officials who were most conversant with a particular issue and who could respond to Members' questions with authority. Seniority was not necessarily the main consideration.
3. A few members suggested that as a general rule Bureau Secretaries should personally attend Panel meetings as they should listen to Members' views firsthand and they would be in a position to make commitments on behalf of the Administration.
4. The Chairman said that he would convey Members' suggestion to the Administration at the coming meeting with CS next week.
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)Adaptation of Laws (No. 3) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 58/98-99)
(ii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 4) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 59/98-99)
(iii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 5) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 43/98-99)
(iv)Adaptation of Laws (No. 6) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 49/98-99)
LC Paper No. LS 58/98-99
5. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Adaptation of Laws (No. 3) Bill 1998 proposed to repeal the Foreign Jurisdiction (Expenses) Ordinance and the Smuggling into China (Control) Ordinance and its subsidiary legislation, which had become obsolete and were not in conformity with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
6. Mr Andrew WONG said that most members of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs and the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services were of the view that existing legislation should not be repealed in the adaptation of laws exercise unless it was absolutely clear that the legislation was no longer required. He suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to examine the reasons for the repeal of the two ordinances. The following members agreed to join : Miss Margaret NG, Mr James TO and Mr Andrew WONG.
7. Miss Margaret NG said that there was no urgency to deal with the Bill given that the two Bills Committees formed to study the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and the Adaptation of Laws (No. 2) Bill 1998 were deliberating on the general principles and rules to be applied in the adaptation of laws exercise. The Chairman added that it was important for some guiding principles to be established first, as this would facilitate the work of other Bills Committees to be formed to study bills which would be introduced under the Adaptation of Laws Programme.
LC Paper No. LS 59/98-99
8. The Legal Adviser said that the Adaptation of Laws (No. 4) Bill 1998 detailed in the paper dealt with the adaptation of a number of ordinances and their subsidiary legislation relating to legal practitioners either in the public or private sector. The Legal Service Division had earlier raised certain queries with the Administration and was now studying its response.
9. Miss Margaret NG said that as the Bill touched on the rights and duties exercisable by the Secretary for Justice and there might be a need to consult the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong, she suggested that a Bills Committee be formed to study the Bill. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Miss Margaret NG, Mr James TO, Mr Andrew WONG, Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing and Mrs Miriam LAU.
LC Paper No. LS 43/98-99
10. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Adaptation of Laws (No. 5) Bill 1998 dealt with the adaptation of court-related nomenclatures and other technical amendments in several ordinances. Members agreed that a Bills Committee on the Bill was not necessary. However, resumption of Second Reading debate on the Bill should not take place for the time being to enable Members to consider any general points which might be recommended by Bills Committees on other Adaptation of Laws Bills in the context of this Bill, if necessary.
LC Paper No. LS 49/98-99
11. Referring to the Adaptation of Laws (No. 6) Bill 1998 which dealt with the adaptation of a number of ordinances and their subsidiary legislation relating to tax matters, the Legal Adviser said that some of the amendments proposed in the Bill might not be purely textual amendments. He added that the Legal Service Division was seeking clarification from the Administration on certain technical points.
12. Mr Andrew WONG suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join : Miss Margaret NG, Mr James TO, Mr Andrew WONG and Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing.
(v)Marriage (Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 50/98-99)
13. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the object of the Bill was to amend the English texts of the relevant provisions in the Marriage Reform Ordinance and the Marriage Ordinance relating to the issue of "Certificates of Absence of Marriage Record" to make them consistent with the Chinese texts of those provisions. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
14. Mr James TO pointed out that the Marriage Ordinance and the Marriage Reform Ordinance had been implemented for a number of years before the Chinese texts of the two Ordinances were authenticated in 1993. He queried the Administration's claim that the English texts of the Ordinances did not reflect accurately the intent to enable the Administration to issue Certificates of Absence of Marriage Record, and that the English texts needed to be amended to tally with the Chinese texts which reflected the true intent of the legislation. He doubted if the proposed amendments could put beyond doubt the validity of certificates already issued. He was of the view that there was a need to ascertain what the original English texts of the relevant provisions in the two Ordinances were intended to mean.
15. The Chairman suggested that the decision on whether to support the Bill be deferred to allow time for the Legal Adviser to seek clarification on Mr TO's query from the Administration. Members agreed.
(vi)Business Registration (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 60/98-99)
16. The Legal Adviser explained that the Bill sought to amend the Business Registration Ordinance to introduce changes to the business registration system and also to streamline the operation of the system. He added that the Legal Service Division had earlier raised certain technical points with the Administration and was now studying its reply.
17. The Chairman 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, Mr Eric LI, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Ronald ARCULLI and Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing.
(b)Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 11 November 1998 (gazetted on 6 November 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 55/98-99)
18. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the six items of subsidiary legislation detailed in the paper.
19. Referring to the Professional Accountants (Amendment) Bylaw 1998, Mr Edward HO asked whether students who were not registered student members of the Hong Kong Society of Accountants (HKSA) had been consulted on the new student membership requirements.
20. Mr Eric LI, who was the Chairman of the Steering Committee on Professional Accreditation of HKSA which drew up the proposed changes, said that the tertiary institutions and their students were consulted in 1994 and they were all supportive of the proposals.
21. The Chairman said that some prospective students of HKSA might not be aware of the new student membership requirements taking effect as from 1 January 1999. He expressed concern that problems similar to those which occurred following the enactment of the Medical Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 might arise.
22. Mr LEE Wing-tat said that the parties affected by the changes should be given an opportunity to submit views. He suggested and members agreed to form a subcommittee to study the Professional Accountants (Amendment) Bylaw 1998. The following members agreed to join : Mr Edward HO, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr Eric LI, Dr LEONG Che-hung and Mr SIN Chung-kai.
23. Members did not raise any queries on the other five items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
24. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 9 December 1998 was 2 December 1998, and the deadline for giving notice to extend the scrutiny period from 9 December 1998 to 16 December 1998 was 4 December 1998.
IV.Business for the Council meeting on 25 November 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 607/98-99)
25. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
(b)Bill - First and Second Readings
Adaptation of Laws (No. 9) Bill 1998
26. Members noted that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 25 November 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 27 November 1998.
27. No notice had been received yet.
(i)Motion on "Information technology strategy"
28. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr SIN Chung-kai.
(ii)Motion on "Improving air quality"
29. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Edward HO Sing-tin.
30. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 18 November 1998. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
V.Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 2 December 1998
(a)Bills - First and Second Readings
(i)Adaptation of Laws (No. 10) Bill 1998
(ii)Theft (Amendment) Bill 1998
(iii)Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 1998
31. Members noted that the above three Bills would be introduced into the Council on 2 December 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 4 December 1998.
(i)Motion on "Promoting the development of the agriculture and fisheries industries"
32. Members noted that Mr WONG Yung-kan had been allocated a debate slot.
(ii)Motion on "The Government's Scheme of Control Agreements with the two power companies"
33. Members noted that Mr Fred LI Wah-ming had been allocated a debate slot.
34. The Chairman informed members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and notice of amendments (if any) to the motions were 17 and 25 November 1998 respectively. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
VI.Report on the Consultation Exercise on the Timing for Commencement of Legislative Sessions (presented by Committee on Rules of Procedure)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 462/98-99)
35. Mrs Selina CHOW, Chairman of the Committee on Rules of Procedure (the Committee), introduced the paper and said that the results of the recent consultation exercise indicated that the majority of members were in favour of a new session commencing in October to tie in with the delivery of the Policy Address, and the session ending in July of the following year to allow a break of not more than three months between sessions.
36. The Chairman said that the Committee would advise the Administration of the outcome of the consultation exercise so as to facilitate the Administration in determining the timing for the commencement of sessions and general elections.
(a)Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 609/98-99)
37. The Chairman said that there were 13 Bills Committee and three subcommittees on subsidiary legislation in action, including the four Bills Committees and one subcommittee formed earlier at the meeting.
(b)Report of the subcommittee on Subsidiary Legislation made under the Estate Agents Ordinance (Cap. 511) gazetted on
16 October 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 473/98-99)
38. Mr Andrew CHENG introduced the paper which detailed the main deliberations of the subcommittee. He said that following the verbal report he made at the last meeting, further discussions had been held with the Administration and the outcome was that the Administration had agreed to make an amendment to the definition of "existing practitioner" to address the subcommittee's concern. The subcommittee had recommended that the three items of subsidiary legislation made under the Estate Agents Ordinance be supported subject to the amendments to be proposed by the Administration as set out in the paper.
(c)Report of the Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 598/98-99)
39. Members endorsed the recommendations of the subcommittee detailed in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the paper.
VIII.Any other business
(a)Special meeting of Panel on Financial Affairs on 14 November 1998
40. The Chairman reminded members that a special meeting of the Panel on Financial Affairs would be held on 14 November 1998 at which Professor Merton Miller and several prominent local academics would present their views on the "Mechanism for defending the linked exchange rate system".
(b)Soccer match between Directors of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and LegCo Members
41. The Deputy Chairman reminded members that a soccer match between the Directors of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and LegCo Members would take place at the grass pitch of Shek Kip Mei Park at Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon on 14 November 1998. The kick off would be at 10:00 am.
42. The meeting ended at 3:56 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
18 November 1998