LC Paper No. CB(2) 1106/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 19th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 5:53 pm on Friday, 15 January 1999
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 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
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
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 HUI Cheung-ching
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
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 Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members absent :
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM Clerk to the House Committee
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 18th meeting held on 8 January 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
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- 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
- Mr Simon WONG
- Senior Public Information Officer 1
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1030/98-99)
1. The minutes were confirmed.II. Matters arising
(a) Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. The Chairman said that CS had confirmed that the Question and Answer Session held on 14 January 1999 was one of the three sessions undertaken by the Chief Executive to attend.(b) Travel Industry Compensation Fund (Amount of Ex Gratia Payments and Financial Penalty) (Amendment) Rules 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 95/98-99)
3. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser informed members that the Administration had confirmed in writing that further consequential amendments would be made to the application forms for claiming ex-gratia payments. The Administration would arrange for such amendments to be published in the Gazette on 29 January 1999.
4. The Legal Adviser said that it would not be necessary for Members to take action in respect of the Amendment Rules, as they were legally in order subject to the further amendments to be made.
III.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)
Human Organ Transplant (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 92/98-99)
5. The Chairman said that as agreed by members at the last meeting, the Secretariat had issued a circular inviting Members to indicate their intention to join the Bills Committee in anticipation of its formation at today's meeting to take over the work of the Subcommittee on Human Organ Transplant Ordinance.
6. Members endorsed the setting up of a Bills Committee to study the Amendment Bill.
(b)Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 13 January 1999 (gazetted on 8 January 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 91/98-99)
7. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which covered the six items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 8 January 1999. Referring to the Medical Laboratory Technologists (Registration and Disciplinary Procedure) (Amendment) Regulation 1999, Physiotherapists (Registration and Disciplinary Procedure)(Amendment) Regulation and Radiographers (Registration and Disciplinary Procedure) (Amendment) Regulation 1999 made by the Secretary for Health and Welfare under the Supplementary Medical Registration Ordinance, the Legal Adviser said that the Amendment Regulations replaced their earlier versions made in 1997 by the Chief Executive in Council, which was not the authority so empowered under the principal ordinance.
8. Members did not raise any queries on the six items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
IV.Business for the Council meeting on 20 January 1999
(a)Bill - First and Second Readings
Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1999
9. The Chairman said that the Administration had advised that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 27 January 1999, instead of 20 January 1999.
(b)Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
Lifts and Escalators (Safety) (Amendment) Bill 1998
10. Members noted that the Administration had given notice to resume the Second Reading debate on the Bill at the Council meeting on 20 January 1999.
V.Business for the Council meeting on 27 January 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1075/98-99)
11. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
(b)Bills - First and Second Readings
(i)Adaptation of Laws Bill 1999
(ii)Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1999
(iii)Firearms and Ammunition (Amendment) Bill 1999
12. Members noted that the above three Bills and the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1999, as advised by the Chairman earlier, would be introduced into the Council on 27 January 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 29 January 1999.
Resolution under section 29 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138) - to be moved by the Secretary for Health and Welfare
(LC Paper No. LS 96/98-99)
13. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the proposed resolution sought the Council's approval of the Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 1998 and the Poisons List (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 1998 made by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board pursuant to section 29 of the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. He explained that the purpose of the two Amendment Regulations was to impose control on four new medicines, including an anti-impotence drug commonly known as Viagra, and upgrade the control on seven substances. The Legal Adviser added that the proposed resolution and the two Amendment Regulations were legally in order.
14. Miss Emily LAU asked whether the cost of the anti-impotence drug issued to patients at public hospitals and government clinics would be financed from public funds. The Legal Adviser responded that the two Amendment Regulations did not deal with the question of how the anti-impotence drug issued at public hospitals and government clinics would be funded. The Chairman suggested that the matter be followed up by the relevant Panels.
(i)Motion on "South East Kowloon development"
15. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Miss Christine LOH.
(ii)Motion on "Anti-monopolization"
16. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr LEE Wing-tat.
17. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 20 January 1999. 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 3 February 1999
(a)Bill - First and Second Readings
International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Bill
18. The Chairman said that above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 3 February 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 5 February 1999.
(i)Motion on "Effects of changes in the functions of the municipal service on the public"
19. Members noted that Dr TANG Siu-tong had been allocated a debate slot.
(ii)Motion to be moved by Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee
20. Members noted that Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee had been allocated a debate slot. Mrs LAU said that the subject of her motion was "Prices of fuel".
21. The Chairman informed members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and notice of amendments (if any) to the motions were 19 and 27 January 1999 respectively.
(a)Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1049/98-99)
22. The Chairman said that there were 12 Bills Committees and three subcommittees in action, including the Bills Committee formed earlier at the meeting.
(b)Report of the Bills Committee on Adaptation of Laws (No.6) Bill 1998
23. Miss Margaret NG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Bills Committee had completed scrutiny of most of the amendments proposed in the Bill. Concerning the amendment to the definition of "export" in the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance proposed in the Bill, the Bills Committee was of the view that the amendment sought to improve the text of the definition and should not be dealt with under the Adaptation of Laws Programme. The Administration had agreed to move a Committee Stage amendment (CSA) to delete the proposed amendment from the Bill.
24. Miss NG further said that regarding the proposed change of "Governor" to "Chief Executive" or "Chief Executive in Council", the Administration had explained that in most cases, "Governor" would simply be replaced by "Chief Executive". Where the Governor was previously given power under any Ordinance to make subsidiary legislation, "Governor" would be changed to "Chief Executive in Council" in accordance with Article 56 of the Basic Law which stipulated, inter alia, that the Chief Executive would consult the Executive Council before making subsidiary legislation. Having sought the views of the Hong Kong Bar Association, Law Society of Hong Kong and Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong, the Bills Committee considered that the change of "Governor" to "Chief Executive in Council" in certain parts of the Bill might not be appropriate. The Bills Committee agreed to defer consideration of this issue until the Bills Committees on the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and Adaptation of Laws (No. 2) Bill 1998 had completed deliberations on the general principles adopted in the Adaptation of Laws exercise.
(c)Report of the Bills Committee on Immigration (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1062/98-99)
25. On behalf of Mr James TO, Chairman of the Bills Committee, the Chairman introduced the paper which detailed the Bills Committee's deliberations. The Chairman said that the majority of members of the Bills Committee were in support of the Bill and the CSA proposed by the Administration.
26. Mr Ronald ARCULLI, who was a member of the Bills Committee, expressed reservations about certain provisions in the Bill. He said that he and the Hong Kong Construction Association Limited had met with the Secretary for Security to seek clarification on the proof required to prosecute a construction site controller under the proposed subsection (4) in section 38A of the Immigration Ordinance. It was his understanding that the Administration had to prove an employer-employee relationship between the site controller and the illegal worker when prosecuting under the proposed subsection (4). However, when the Bill was examined by the Bills Committee, the Administration clarified that it would not be necessary to prove the existence of an employer-employee relationship between the site controller and the illegal worker or to identify the employer of the illegal worker. Mr ARCULLI considered this to be unfair to the principal or main contractor as the contractor concerned might be held liable even if he was not in control of the site where the illegal worker was found. He said that the Hong Kong Construction Association Limited felt that it had been misled by the Administration.
27. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 27 January 1999.
VIII.Any other business
(a)Progress report on motion carried in the Council
(A letter from Hon LAU Chin-shek dated 11 January 1999 attached)
28. Referring to his letter, Mr LAU Chin-shek said that the progress report prepared by the Administration on the motion "Rehousing all cage home lodgers and single persons", which was unanimously carried in Council on 14 October 1998, had totally disregarded Members' specific requests. He suggested that as the issue straddled the purview of several Panels, it would be more appropriate for the matter to be followed up by a subcommittee.
29. Mr LAU further said that it was already very difficult for a Member's motion to be passed under the existing voting system. The lack of a positive response on the part of the Administration indicated that the Administration did not take a serious view of Members' motions passed in Council.
30. Mr LEE Wing-tat advised members that the Panel on Housing had discussed the issue of bedspace lodgers at its last meeting on 4 January 1999. The Panel Clerk had prepared a research paper entitled "Bedspace apartments: regulation of the building and fire safety aspects of bedspace apartments and related issues", which would be discussed at the next meeting scheduled for 1 February 1999.
31. Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr Ronald ARCULLI and Mrs Selina CHOW were of the view that the issue should be followed up by the relevant Panels, given that the existing mechanism was for Panels to follow up on motions carried in Council. They considered it unnecessary and inappropriate for subcommittees to be set up for such a purpose. Mr ARCULLI suggested that if no progress was made after a period of six months, the matter could be brought up again for consideration by the House Committee as to what action should be taken.
32. Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung said that members should not completely rule out the approach of setting up subcommittees as it might be necessary for one to be formed to follow up on a motion which was of wide public concern.
33. The Chairman suggested that the issue of rehousing all cage home lodgers and single persons should be followed up by the relevant Panels. He further suggested that the Secretariat should prepare a paper setting out the position of Members' motions that had been passed in Council since the beginning of the legislative session and the existing procedures for following up on such motions, for discussion at the next meeting. Members agreed to the Chairman's suggestions.
(b)Motion on "Civil service's culture and efficiency"
(A letter from Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, Chairman of Public Accounts Committee, dated 13 January 1999 attached)
34. Referring to his letter, Mr Eric LI explained the reasons for his request for one debate slot to be allocated for him, in his capacity as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), to move the motion on "Civil service's culture and efficiency" at the Council meeting on 10 March 1999.
35. The Chairman said that there were precedents in the former LegCo where the chairman of a committee was allocated a debate slot as a matter of priority to move a motion on a subject matter related to the committee's work. He proposed that subject to members' agreement to Mr LI's request, Mr LI should not be regarded as having sponsored a motion for the purpose of the queuing system. He further proposed that members should reach a gentlemen's agreement not to amend the motion.
36. Dr YEUNG Sum suggested that the allocation of a debate slot for the Chairman of PAC to move a motion on a subject matter related to a PAC report following its tabling in Council should be made a standard practice. He further suggested that the wording of such a motion should be couched in neutral terms so that Members could freely express their views during the debate.
37. Mr Howard YOUNG expressed support for Mr LI's request but considered that the wording of the motion should be more neutral along the lines of the wording on the "Motion of Thanks", and not be confined to a specific area.
38. In response, Mr Eric LI said that the motion as presently worded would provide a focus for debate but Members would not be precluded from speaking on other related issues covered in the PAC Report. If the motion was worded in an even broader manner, it might generate a debate on the overall conclusions and recommendations of the PAC.
39. Mr CHAN Kam-lam agreed that a debate slot should be allocated for Mr LI to move the motion in his capacity as Chairman of PAC. However, he expressed reservations about Dr YEUNG Sum's proposal of making a debate on a PAC report a standard practice, given that the PAC tabled two reports annually. Such an arrangement might duplicate the work of the PAC and would not put the Council's time to efficient use. Mr CHAN added that if amendments were made to Mr LI's motion, there might be the risk of the motion being negatived.
40. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested that the proposal of making a debate on a PAC report a standard practice should be further considered by the PAC.
41. Miss Emily LAU said that the PAC had a thorough discussion on the wording of the motion. As the PAC membership was broadly representative of the membership of the Council, she hoped that Members would agree that amendments should not be proposed to the motion.
42. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that:
- Mr Eric LI be allocated a debate slot to move the motion at the Council meeting on 10 March 1999;
- Mr LI's motion would be the first motion to be debated at the Council meeting on 10 March 1999;
- Mr LI would not be regarded as having sponsored a motion for the purpose of the queuing system;
- Members should not propose amendments to the motion; and
- the proposal of making a debate on a PAC report a standard practice should be considered by the PAC, having regard to the experience of Members' debate on Mr LI's motion on 10 March 1999.
43. The meeting ended at 6:38 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
20 January 1999