LC Paper No. CB(2) 1729/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 27th meetingMembers present :
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 3:50 pm on Friday, 16 April 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 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
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 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 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 Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
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
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members absent :
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon SZETO Wah
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
- 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
- Miss Polly YEUNG
- Assistant Secretary General 1 (Acting)
- 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
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Mr Charles FOO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints) (Acting)
- Miss Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Ms Estella CHAN
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5 (Designate)
- 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 26th meeting held on 26 March 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1636/98-99)
1. The Chairman said that as Dr LUI Ming-wah was present at the meeting held on 26 March 1999, his name should appear under "Members present". The minutes were confirmed subject to this amendment.
II. Matters arising
(i) 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' concern that the contingency plans to cope with possible problems relating to Year 2000 (Y2K) compliance in Government and non-government organizations providing essential services would not be available until quite late.
3. Miss Emily LAU requested the Chairman to find out from CS what was done at the highest level of the Administration to ensure that the Y2K compliance exercise was completed on schedule.
4. Mr SIN Chung-kai said that the Government should distribute leaflets to the public to enhance public understanding of the possible impact of the Y2K problem on their daily life. He asked the Chairman to ascertain whether the Administration had plans for large-scale publicity on the problem.
5. The Chairman said that he would continue to ask the Administration to monitor the progress of the Y2K compliance exercise closely and to provide progress reports to Panels on a regular basis.
(ii) Chief Executive's reply of 19 March 1999 declining the Chairman's invitation to attend a meeting of the Council to discuss the three inquiry reports on the opening of the new airport
(The Chief Executive's reply issued vide LC Papers No. CB(2) 1538/98-99 (English version) and CB(2)1539/98-99 (Chinese version) dated 19 and 20 March 1999 respectively)
6. The Chairman said that he had just received a letter from the Director of Administration informing him that the Chief Executive (CE) would attend a Question and Answer session on 6 May 1999, instead of in June as originally scheduled. The Chairman suggested that the three inquiry reports on the airport opening chaos be included as one of the topics for the session. Several members expressed support for the Chairman's suggestion.
7. Mr Ambrose CHEUNG suggested that the duration of the session should be extended to two hours in order to allow time for Members to raise questions on other topics.
8. Miss Emily LAU expressed disappointment that CE had not explained in his reply why he had come to the conclusion that there was no prima facie evidence that any of the civil servants involved failed in discharging their duties. However, she expressed support for Mr CHEUNG's suggestion and proposed that the rule of law and judicial independence should be among the topics for discussion at the session on 6 May 1999. Mr James TIEN suggested that the impact on Hong Kong of China's entry to the World Trade Organisation should also be covered.
9. The Chairman said that he would convey to CE Members' request that the duration of the Question and Answer session be extended to two hours. He would also inform CE of the various topics for the session suggested by members.
(iii) Director of Administration's letter of 30 March 1999 on Designation of Officials to attend LegCo Meetings
(The Director of Administration's letter issued vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 1620/98-99 dated 31 March 1999)
10. The Chairman asked members whether they had any further views on the explanation set out in the Director of Administration's letter regarding the designation of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) under Article 62(6) to attend meetings of the Council and its committees.
11. Mr Edward HO said that according to the Administration, the Chief Executive of HKMA was not a civil servant, although HKMA itself was an integral part of the Government. Other statutory public bodies such as the Housing Authority and the Airport Authority were, however, not regarded as part of the Government. He felt that the Administration should be asked to give a precise definition of "Government" and explain why the responsible person of a public body which formed part of the Government should be outside the civil service set-up.
12. The Secretary General pointed out the Administration had earlier explained that there was no need to designate the Chairperson of the Housing Authority to attend meetings of the Council and its committees. This was because the Secretary for Housing was responsible for the policy aspects of housing matters and was therefore the appropriate person to attend meetings of the Council to speak on behalf of the Government on housing matters. However, as HKMA was under the direct authority of the Financial Secretary, the Secretary for Financial Services could not speak on behalf of the Chief Executive of HKMA on banking and monetary policies.
13. Mr LEE Wing-tat suggested that the relevant Panel should pursue the matter further with the Administration.
14. Mrs Selina CHOW expressed support for Mr LEE's suggestion. She further said that the Administration should adopt a consistent approach in designating officials to attend meetings of the Council and its committees.
15. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the matter should be referred to the Panel on Constitutional Affairs.
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) Prevention of Bribery (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 141/98-99)
16. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to add the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK), Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited (HKFE), Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited (HKSCC), SEHK Options Clearing House Limited (SEOCH) and HKFE Clearing Corporation Limited (HKFECC) to the list of public bodies under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (PBO). The Bill also sought to amend the definition of "public servant" in section 2(1) of PBO so that any employees and persons vested with responsibility for the conduct or management of the affairs of the SEHK, HKFE, HKSCC, the SEOCH and HKFECC would be classified as public servants. In addition, the Bill proposed to make some technical amendments to the existing Schedule to PBO relating to certain public bodies.
17. The Legal Adviser further said that the two Exchanges and the three Clearing Houses had agreed to the proposals in the Bill provided that their ordinary broker members or participants not involved in the management of the organisations would not be made public servants. The Panel on Security had also been consulted on the details of the Bill at its meeting held on 11 February 1999 and no special comment was raised. The Legal Adviser added that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
18. Members agreed that the Second Reading on the Bill could be resumed.
(ii) Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 143/98-99)
19. The Legal Adviser said that the main purposes of the Bill were to-
- remove the requirement that judicial proceedings should be adjourned when the red rainstorm warning signal was hoisted;
- streamline the mechanism for the temporary appointment of judicial officers in various courts and tribunals; and
- make minor technical amendments to various ordinances.
20. The Legal Adviser added that the Panel on the Administration of Justice and Legal Services had been briefed on the legislative proposals in the Bill at its meeting on 25 February 1999, and the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
21. Members agreed that the Second Reading on the Bill should be resumed.
(iii) Adaptation of Laws (No. 8) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 142/98-99)
22. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill dealt with the adaptation of 10 ordinances and items of subsidiary legislation relating to environment matters. He added that the proposed amendments in the Bill were essentially technical drafting changes which were along the same lines as some amendments proposed in the Adaptation of Laws Bills which were passed by the Council on 31 March 1999.
23. Mr Ronald ARCULLI asked how the retrospective effect of the Bill, if enacted, would affect civil proceedings since the retrospectivity of the Bill would not apply only to provisions involving criminal offences or penalties.
24. Assistant Legal Adviser 1 said that the retrospectivity of the Bill would have no effect on civil proceedings.
25. Miss Margaret NG referred to note 2 in Annex B to the paper and asked whether it was proper to adapt the reference to "Crown" in the Country Parks Ordinance to "Government" since the Crown Proceedings Ordinance had not yet been dealt with in the adaptation of laws exercise. The Legal Adviser explained that any proposed adaptations of the Crown Proceedings Ordinance would have no effect on the adaptation of the reference to "Crown" in sections 18(2) and 19(1) of the Country Parks Ordinance. Miss NG said she would discuss the matter further with the Legal Adviser after the meeting.
26. The Chairman suggested that a decision on the Bill be deferred to the next meeting. Members agreed.
(iv) Adaptation of Laws (No. 9) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 136/98-99)
27. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which dealt with the adaptation of 14 ordinances and subsidiary legislation relating to roads and tunnels. He said that the Legal Service Division had written to the Administration seeking clarification on the two major issues detailed in paragraph 6 of the paper. The Legal Service Division would submit a further report upon completion of the scrutiny of the Bill.
28. Miss Margaret NG said that the proposed adaptation of the reference to "Crown" to "State" was an important policy issue. She suggested that a Bills Committee be formed to study the Bill in detail. Members agreed. The following members had agreed to join : Miss Margaret NG, Mr Andrew WONG Wang-fat and Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee.
(v) Securities (Margin Financing) (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 140/98-99)
29. The Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the Bill was to amend the Securities Ordinance to provide for the registration of securities margin financiers and the regulation of the business of securities margin financing carried on in Hong Kong relating to listed securities. The Legal Service Division was seeking clarification from the Administration on certain legal and drafting points.
30. The Legal Adviser further said that the Bill sought to provide the legal framework for regulating the business of securities margin financing which would have a significant impact on the future of Hong Kong as a financial services centre. He considered that as the Bill introduced important policy and legal issues, members might wish to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill in detail.
31. Mr FUNG Chi-kin suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee. The following members had agreed to join : Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr SIN Chung-kai and Mr FUNG Chi-kin.
(vi) Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Bill
(LC Paper No. LS 137/98-99)
32. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper and said that the Bill sought to consolidate and amend the law relating to local vessels, in particular to improve their safety, control and regulation. He drew members' attention to the range of issues detailed in paragraphs 4-11 of the paper. He was of the view that as the Bill affected local vessels in many ways, it merited detailed study by a Bills Committee.
33. Mrs Miriam LAU suggested that given that different sectors of the local shipping industry had expressed views on the proposed new classification of local vessels, a Bills Committee should be formed to study the Bill. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Mr LEE Kai-ming, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr Howard YOUNG, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, Mr TAM Yiu-chung and Mr FUNG Chi-kin.
34. Miss Margaret NG asked whether any of the provisions in the Bill dealt with gambling activities carried out on board a vessel. The Legal Adviser responded that it was not apparent from the provisions in the Bill that it was intended to cover the regulation of such gambling activities in any direct way and suggested that this aspect could be looked into by the Bills Committee. Members agreed.
(vii) Shipping and Port Control (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 138/98-99)
35. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper and briefly explained the major amendments proposed in the Bill which aimed to improve the safety protection of workers engaged in marine works. He added that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
36. Mrs Miriam LAU said that as the relevant Panel had not been briefed on the details of the Bill and given that the Bill contained proposals to increase the penalties for breach of the requirements in Part V of the Shipping and Port Control Ordinance and to empower the Director of Marine to issue codes of practice as practical guidance, a Bills Committee should be formed to study the Bill in detail. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Mr LEE Kai-ming, Mr HUI Cheung-ching, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr SIN Chung-kai and Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee.
(viii) Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 139/98-99)
37. The Legal Adviser said that the main purpose of the Bill was to transfer the regulation-making power (except the power to make regulations for fees) under the Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Ordinance from the Chief Executive in Council to the Secretary for Economic Services. After the transfer of power, any regulation made by the Secretary for Economic Services would still be subject to negative vetting of the Council under section 34 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap.1). The Legal Adviser added that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
38. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(b) Legal Service Division's reports on subsidiary legislation
(i) Subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 31 March 1999 (gazetted on 26 March 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 148/98-99)
39. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the 12 items of subsidiary legislation detailed in the paper.
40. Mrs Miriam LAU said that the term "bulk cargoes" in the Merchant Shipping (Safety) (Carriage of Cargoes) (Amendment) Regulation 1999 referred to cargoes including coal, sand and cement. She noted that the Administration had consulted the four major cargo terminal operators and they all indicated support for the proposed amendments.
41. Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that "bulk cargoes" also included rice and sugar and asked whether the relevant operators of these two types of cargo had been consulted. The Legal Adviser said that he would seek clarification from the Administration.
42. Referring to the Securities (Dealers, Investment Advisers, Partnerships and Representatives) (Amendment) Rules 1999 ("Amendment Rules"), Mr FUNG Chi-kin expressed concern over the Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited being given special powers under the proposed compulsory securities borrowing mechanism and the effects of the proposed amendments on the securities trading market. He proposed that a subcommittee be formed to study the Amendment Rules. Mr Ronald ARCULLI declared that he was a non-Executive Director of the Securities and Futures Commission. Mr ARCULLI said that he did not share Mr FUNG's concern and considered that there was no need to form a subcommittee.
43. The Chairman put Mr FUNG's proposal to vote. The results were five members voted in favour of the proposal and three members voted against. The Chairman said that Mr FUNG's proposal to form a subcommittee to study the Amendment Rules was agreed.
44. The following members agreed to join the subcommittee : Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen and Mr FUNG Chi-kin.
45. The Chairman said that he would move a motion at the Council meeting on 21 April 1999 to extend the scrutiny period of the Amendment Rules to 5 May 1999.
46. Members raised no queries on the remaining 10 items of subsidiary legislation set out in the paper.
(ii) Subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 31 March 1999 (gazetted on 30 March 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 149/98-99 issued vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 1685/98-99 dated 13 April 1999)
47. The Chairman said that the paper dealt with the Public Revenue Protection (Revenue) Order 1999 which was gazetted on 26 March 1999. He further said that Mr LEE Cheuk-yan had sent a letter to all the members of the House Committee explaining his concern about the Order.
48. The Chairman also informed members that Mr Albert HO intended to propose amendments to the Order. The Administration had commented that Mr HO's proposed amendments would have a charging effect within the terms of rule 31 of the Rules of Procedure. The Chairman added that Mr HO was now awaiting the President's opinion as to whether his proposed amendments were in order.
49. Mr LEE Cheuk-yan highlighted the main points set out in his letter and suggested that a subcommittee be formed to study the Order. Mr LEE also asked whether there was any legal basis for the Administration to treat fixed penalties as revenue under section 2 of the Public Revenue Protection Ordinance.
50. The Legal Adviser said that he considered that the fixed penalties proposed to be increased under clauses 23 and 25 of the Revenue Bill 1999 did not fall within any of the descriptions of revenue referred to in section 2 of the Ordinance. However, the Administration had held the view that "revenue" in this context meant "general revenue", which included income from fixed penalties. He added that the court would be the competent authority to interpret the law should a case come before it.
51. In reply to Mr LEE's further enquiry as to whether Mr HO could propose changes to certain parts of the Order, the Legal Adviser said that the issue of whether Mr HO's proposed amendments were in order was being considered by the President.
52. Mr Albert HO said that invoking section 2 of the Ordinance to make a Public Revenue Protection Order which included proposals that would take effect from a future date raised important policy issues. He supported Mr LEE's suggestion to form a subcommittee.
53. Mrs Miriam LAU and Mr Ronald ARCULLI agreed that a subcommittee should be formed. They further suggested that, in anticipation of the formation of a Bills Committee at the House Committee meeting in the following week to study the Revenue Bill 1999 to be introduced on 21 April 1999, members of the subcommittee should also study the Revenue Bill 1999.
54. Assistant Secretary General 3 pointed out that the deadline for giving notice to amend the Order at the Council meeting on 28 April 1999 was 21 April 1999, whereas the deadline for giving notice to move a resolution on 28 April 1999 to extend the intervention period to 5 May 1999 was 23 April 1999.
55. The Chairman asked Mr HO whether he would proceed with his amendments now that a subcommittee had been set up to study the Order. Mr HO said that he would need time to consider.
56. Members agreed that a subcommittee should be formed to study the Order. The following members agreed to join the subcommittee : Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan, Miss Margaret NG, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr Andrew WONG Wang-fat, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee and Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo.
57. Members further agreed that should a Bills Committee be formed at the House Committee meeting on 23 April 1999 to study the Revenue Bill 1999, members of the subcommittee should become members of the Bills Committee to continue their work.
58. Mr Andrew WONG was of the view that since the Revenue Bill 1999 would be introduced into the Council on 21 April 1999, no amendments to the Order could be made under the rule of anticipation. The Chairman said that Mr WONG's view would be considered by the subcommittee.
(iii) Subsidiary legislation to be tabled in Council on 21 April 1999 (gazetted on 1 April 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 152/98-99)
59. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the two items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 1 April 1999 as set out in the paper.
60. Miss Emily LAU asked whether the Administrative Instructions for Regulating Admittance and Conduct of Persons (Amendment) Instructions 1999 ("Amendment Instructions") applied to Members of the Council and who would be responsible for enforcing the Amendment Instructions.
61. The Legal Adviser replied that the Amendment Instructions made under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance did not apply to LegCo Members and staff of the LegCo Secretariat. However, the conduct of LegCo Members inside the LegCo Building was governed by the Rules of Procedure. He further said that enforcement of the Amendment Instructions was the responsibility of the staff of the Secretariat and prosecution could only be initiated with the consent of the Secretary for Justice.
62. The Secretary General added that The Legislative Council Commission had accepted the House Committee's proposal of making the LegCo Building completely smoke-free. Pursuant to the Commission's decision, a circular was issued on 30 March 1999 stipulating that with effect from 1 April 1999, no person (including LegCo Members and LegCo Secretariat staff) was permitted to smoke in the LegCo Building.
(iv) Subsidiary legislation to be tabled in Council on 21 April 1999 (gazetted on 9 April 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 157/98-99)
63. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which detailed the three items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 9 April 1999.
64. Members did not raise any queries on the subsidiary legislation.
IV. Business for the Council meeting on 21 April 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1489/98-99)
65. Members noted said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been scheduled.
(b) Bills - First and Second Readings
(i) Adaptation of Laws (No. 10) Bill 1999
(ii) Labour Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999
(iii) Small Claims Tribunal (Amendment) Bill 1999
(iv) Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999
(v) Protection of Wages on Insolvency (Amendment) Bill 1999
(vi) Revenue Bill 1999
(vii) Organized and Serious Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1999
66. Members noted that the above seven Bills would be introduced into the Council on 21 April 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 23 April 1999.
(c) Government motions
67. Members noted that no notice had been received.
(d) Members' motions
(i) Motion on "Establishment of a Culture Commission"
68. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr MA Fung-kwok.
(ii) Motion on "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women"
69. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing.
70. The Chairman said that the speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 28 April 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1490/98-99)
71. Members noted that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
(b) Bill - First and Second Readings
Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1999
72. Members noted that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 28 April 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 30 April 1999.
(c) Government motions
73. No notice had been received.
(d) Members' motions
(i) Proposed resolution under Article 75 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
74. The Chairman said that the Committee on Rules of Procedure (the Committee) would report under agenda item VII(a). He added that as this resolution had legislative effect, members who wished to speak on the resolution could speak for 15 minutes each.
75. Mrs Selina CHOW said that the Committee had considered that since its membership consisted of representatives of all political groupings of LegCo, it would be a more efficient use of the Council's time if each political grouping would designate a limited number of its LegCo Members to speak on the resolution. She suggested that there could be a "gentlemen's agreement" that those who wished to speak would not speak for more than seven minutes.
(ii) Motion on "New arrivals from the Mainland"
76. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr LAW Chi-kwong.
(iii) Motion on "Labour Day"
77. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr LEE Cheuk-yan.
78. The Chairman reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments (if any) to the motions was 21 April 1999. 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) 1679/98-99)
79. The Chairman said that there were 12 Bills Committees and three subcommittees in action. The three vacant Bills Committee slots would be taken up by the three Bills Committees formed earlier at the meeting to study the Adaptation of Laws (No.9) Bill 1999, the Securities (Margin Financing) (Amendment) Bill 1999 and the Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Bill. The Bills Committee on the Shipping and Port Control (Amendment) Bill 1999 formed earlier under agenda item III(vii) would be put on the waiting list.
(ii) Report of the Bills Committee on Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1681/98-99)
80. Mr Andrew WONG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, highlighted the main deliberations of the Bills Committee as detailed in the paper. He said that in response to the Bills Committee, the Administration had agreed to move amendments relating to the adaptation of the reference to "Colonial Regulations" to "Public Service (Administration) Order" and other amendments at the Committee Stage of the Bill. The Bills Committee had recommended that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 28 April 1999.
(iii) Report on the Legislative Council Delegation's Visit to Japan
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1486/98-99)
81. Introducing the paper, Mr Edward HO, leader of the delegation, said that the delegation had asked the Japanese Government to consider granting visa-free treatment to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) residents; or alternatively to give indefinite multiple entry visas for the life of the applicants' passports. The delegation had also asked whether the lower fee charged for processing applications for visa to enter Japan submitted by British National Overseas passport-holders could be applied to applications submitted by SAR passport-holders. Mr HO further said that the Final Report on Strategies for Reviving the Japanese Economy published by the Economic Strategy Council provided very useful reference for Hong Kong, given that Hong Kong was experiencing similar economic problems. He recommended members to read the Final Report which was placed in the Legislative Council Library.
82. Mr HO informed members that a delegation of the Japan Hong Kong Parliamentarian League would be visiting Hong Kong in May 1999. A meeting for Members to meet with the Japanese delegation had been tentatively scheduled for 3 May 1999 at 11:15 am. He urged Members to join the meeting.
VII. Any other business
(a) Committee on Rules of Procedure
83. Mrs Selina CHOW, Chairman of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, reported that no comments had been received from Members on the consultation paper on "Order of Speaking in Motion Debates". In respect of the consultation paper on the arrangements for implementing the provisions under Article 79(7) of the Basic Law, amendments had been proposed to Rule 73(5)(b) to take into account the following views expressed by Members -
- notwithstanding an election made by the Member under investigation at the beginning of the investigation that hearings should be open to the public, the investigation committee might decide on sufficient reason, apart from an application made by a witness, upon request made by a member of the committee to hold any such meetings in camera; and
- the Member under investigation should be allowed to make an application to the investigation committee for the hearings to be held in camera, despite the fact that he/she had elected at the beginning of the investigation that hearings should be open to the public.
84. Mrs CHOW further said that a Member had expressed concern that it would not be fair to the Member under investigation if members of an investigation committee who had not attended some or any of the previous meetings of the investigation committee, but who turned up at its last meeting at which the investigation committee would conclude its findings, would be allowed to vote. The Committee had already addressed this issue and recommended in its consultation paper that the investigation committee should comprise seven members and that its quorum should be five members including the chairman, which was more stringent than that applied to other committees of the Council.
85. Mrs CHOW added that she would move a motion in her capacity as Chairman of the Committee at the Council meeting on 28 April 1999 to amend the Rules of Procedure as proposed in the above two consultation papers. The motion would also cover amendments to the Rules of Procedure relating to other issues considered by the Committee. The Chairman reminded members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the motion was 21 April 1999.
86. Mrs CHOW further reported that the Committee had examined whether current provisions in the Rules of Procedure were adequate for the implementation of Articles 50 and 51 of the Basic Law. As provisions contained in both Articles were related to constitutional issues, the Committee considered it more appropriate for the subject matter to be taken up by the Panel on Constitutional Affairs. In view of the fact that the word "Budget" was neither defined in the Basic Law nor in the laws of Hong Kong, the Committee had written to the Administration seeking clarification on the scope of "Budget" in the context of Articles 50 and 51. Pending the response from the Administration and the deliberations by the Panel on Constitutional Affairs, the Committee would consider at a later date whether the existing provisions in the Rules of Procedure needed to be revised for the purpose of implementing Articles 50 and 51.
87. Regarding the arrangements for implementing the provisions under Article 79(7), Mr Ronald ARCULLI enquired about the following -
- whether the scope of investigation was determined by the investigation committee;
- the reason as to why the Member under investigation had to make an election at the beginning of the investigation that hearings be opened to the public; and
- whether there was any rule to govern how the chairman of the investigation committee should exercise his casting vote in the event that the votes of the other members were equally divided.
88. As regards paragraphs 87(i), Mrs CHOW said that the scope of the investigation was confined to that set out in the schedule of the motion moved for a determination under Article 79(7) of the Basic Law. As regards paragraph 87(ii), Mrs CHOW explained that given the seriousness and importance of the matter, the Committee considered that the Member under investigation should be given, as a matter of right, the opportunity to elect whether he wished to have the hearings held in open at the outset of the investigation. She, however, pointed out that the Committee could, in the course of investigation, decide on sufficient reason being given by a witness, including the Member under investigation, and from other members of the committee to revert the hearings, either in whole or in part, to hearings in camera. As regards paragraph 87(iii), Mrs CHOW said that the chairman of the investigation committee could cast his vote according to his wish.
89. Miss Emily LAU said that the House Committee was not an appropriate forum to re-open discussion on the arrangements for implementing the provisions under Article 79(7). She remarked that members should have made use of the consultation period to give their views or raise queries on the issues involved.
90. The Chairman said that members still had the opportunity to debate the arrangements for implementing the provisions in Article 79(7) at the Council meeting on 28 April 1999.
(b) Monitoring of the Administration's follow-up actions on issues raised at Panel meetings
(Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing's letter dated 12 April 1999)
91. Miss Emily LAU said that given the rapidly increasing workload of Members, she requested the Secretary General to recommend ways on how the Secretariat staff could provide greater assistance to Members in following up issues raised at meetings of Panels and other committees. She suggested for instance that Panel clerks should liaise closely with the policy bureaux and government departments concerned so as to keep track of the follow-up actions that had been or would be taken by the Administration and keep Members informed of progress. She further suggested that Panel clerks should also monitor press articles relating to the issues raised at meetings of the Panels and other committees and bring them to the attention of Members.
92. Mr Eric LI said that members of a committee should also be kept informed of progress made on issues which they had referred to other committees for follow-up.
93. The Secretary General said that the clerks had always been monitoring the follow-up actions taken by the Administration on issues raised at meetings of Panels and other committees, although such monitoring could be done in a more systematic manner. He suggested that each Panel clerk should compile a list setting out the issues to be followed up by the Administration after each meeting and update the list for members' information at the next meeting of the Panel concerned.
94. The Chairman suggested to adopt the measure proposed by the Secretary General. Members agreed.
(c) Joint meeting of the LegCo Panels on Economic Services, Home Affairs, Planning, Lands & Works and Public Service on 14 April 1999 to follow-up on the recommendations of the three inquiry reports on the opening of the new airport
(A note was tabled at the meeting)
95. Mr James TIEN referred members to the four issues raised at the above joint Panel meeting held on 14 April 1999, which were set out in the note he tabled at the meeting. He sought members' views as to how these issues could be taken forward by the Council.
96. Dr YEUNG Sum said that monitoring of the follow-up actions on the recommendations of the three inquiry reports at joint meetings of four Panels was not a satisfactory arrangement in view of the difficulty to form a quorum. A better approach would be for the Panel on Economic Services to take on the matter and invite other members of the relevant Panels to attend its meetings. He added that in order to facilitate useful deliberation, representatives from all the relevant policy bureaux and government departments should attend the meetings concerned. Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mrs Selina CHOW concurred with Dr YEUNG.
97. Miss Emily LAU shared Dr YEUNG's concern about the difficulty of forming a quorum and proposed that a subcommittee under the Panel on Economic Services be formed as soon as possible to deal specifically with the matter, particularly in view of the forthcoming appointment of members to the Board of the Airport Authority.
98. The Chairman suggested and members agreed to form a subcommittee under the Panel on Economic Services to follow up on the matter.
99. The meeting ended at 5:55 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
21 April 1999