LC Paper No. CB(2) 938/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 17th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 5:22 pm on Friday, 18 December 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
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
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, 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 Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members absent :
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
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 Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
- 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 Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- 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
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 16th meeting held on 4 December 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 837/98-99)
1. The minutes were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings
- Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. Members noted that there was no meeting with CS this week.
- Legal Practitioners (Fees) (Amendment) Rule 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 82/98-99)
3. The Chairman said that members had earlier agreed to extend the scrutiny period of the Amendment Rule to 6 January 1999 to allow time for the Legal Service Division to seek clarification from the Judiciary Administrator. The motion was passed at the Council meeting on 16 December 1998.
4. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that the query raised by the Legal Service Division concerned the empowering provision in the Legal Practitioners Ordinance for making rules to prescribe the fees payable for the issue of practising certificates for barristers. He suggested that the question of whether section 72 or section 30(4) of the Ordinance was the proper empowering provision be considered by the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services as a separate issue as the Amendment Rule only dealt with the increase in the fees payable for practising certificates of barristers.
5. Members raised no queries on the level of fee increase prescribed in the Amendment Rule.
IV. Business for the Council meeting on 6 January 1999
- Legal Service Division's report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
(i) Film Censorship (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 68/98-99)
6. The Legal Adviser said that the main object of the Bill was to exempt still films (i.e. slides) of a cultural, educational, instructional, promotional and religious nature and for non-commercial purpose intended for exhibition, from submission to the Film Censorship Authority. The Bill also sought to improve the operation of the Film Censorship Ordinance and make the regulatory regime more user and business friendly. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
7. Mr Andrew CHENG expressed concern that the Film Censorship Authority had the reserve power to require exhibitors to submit still films for examination. He suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join : Mr MA Fung-kwok, Mr Howard YOUNG and Mr Andrew CHENG.
(ii) District Councils Bill
(LC Paper No. LS 76/98-99)
8. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that the Bill sought to provide for the establishment, composition and functions of District Councils and the election of their members. He added that members might wish to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill.
9. Mr LEE Wing-tat suggested and members agreed that a Bills Committee be formed. The following members agreed to join : Dr Raymond HO, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr MA Fung-kwok, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Mr Howard YOUNG and Mr TAM Yiu-chung.
- Legal Service Division's reports on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 9 and 16 December 1998 (gazetted on 4 and 11 December 1998)
(LC Paper Nos. LS 73 & LS 80/98-99)
LC Paper No. LS 73/98-99
10. Members did not raise any queries on the two items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 4 December 1998.
11. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 6 January 1999 was 29 December 1998, and the deadline for giving notice to extend the scrutiny period from 6 January 1999 to 13 January 1999 was 31 December 1998.
LC Paper No. LS 80/98-99
12. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the three items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 11 December 1998.
13. Referring to the Import and Export (Removal of Articles) (Amendment) Regulation 1998, Mr Kenneth TING enquiried how notices served by facsimile transmission would be acknowledged by the recipients. The Chairman suggested that the Legal Adviser should seek clarification from the Administration. Members agreed.
14. Members raised no queries on the other two items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
15. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 13 January 1999 was 6 January 1999, and the deadline for giving notice to extend the scrutiny period from 13 January 1999 to 20 January 1999 was 15 January 1999.
V. Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 13 January 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 925/98-99)
16. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
- Bills - First and Second Readings
(i) Adaptation of Laws (No. 11) Bill 1998
(ii) Adaptation of Laws (No. 12) Bill 1998
(iii) Adaptation of Laws (No. 13) Bill 1998
(iv) Adaptation of Laws (No. 14) Bill 1998
(v) Adaptation of Laws (No. 15) Bill 1998
(vi) Adaptation of Laws (No. 16) Bill 1998
(vii) Adaptation of Laws (No. 17) Bill 1998
17. Members noted that the above seven Bills would be introduced into the Council on 6 January 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 8 January 1999.
- Government motions
18. No notice had been received yet.
- Members' motions
(i) Motion on "Organ donation"
19. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr LAU Chin-shek.
(ii) Motion on "Establishment of Child Support Agency"
20. The Chairman informed members that Miss CHOY So-yuk had given notice to move a motion on "Reviewing the waste management policy" in replace of the above motion.
21. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 29 December 1998. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 926/98-99)
22. The Chairman said that 12 questions (6 oral and 6 written) had been tentatively scheduled. He reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of questions was 4 January 1999.
VII. Any other business
- Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 882/98-99)
23. The Chairman said that there were 12 Bills Committees and three subcommittees in action, including the two Bills Committees formed earlier at the meeting.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Evidence (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 888/98-99)
24. Introducing the paper on behalf of Miss Margaret NG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, Mr Martin LEE informed members that the Bills Committee supported the Bill and the Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) proposed by the Administration.
25. Members noted that the Second Reading debate on the Bill would be resumed on 13 January 1999.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Securities (Insider Dealing) (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 642/98-99)
26. The Legal Adviser said that in response to the Bills Committee, the Administration would move CSAs to make former deputy judges eligible for appointment as chairman of the Insider Dealing Tribunal and to stipulate that the Chief Executive would appoint chairmen of the Tribunal on the recommendation of the Chief Justice.
27. Members noted that the Bills Committee had recommended that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 6 January 1999.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Business Registration (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 643/98-99)
28. Mr SIN Chung-kai, Chairman of the Bills Committee, introduced the paper which detailed the deliberations of the Bills Committee. He said that the Administration had agreed to move a CSA to address the Bills Committee's concern about the power of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue to remove a business registration from the Business Register.
29. Members noted that the Second Reading debate on the Bill would be resumed on 13 January 1999.
- Report of the Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee
(LC Paper No. CB(3)934/98-99)
30. Mr Edward HO, Chairman of the Subcommittee, outlined the Subcommittee's recommendations set out in paragraphs 3-5 of the paper.
31. Referring to the proposed visit to Japan, Mr HO said that subject to members' agreement to the proposed arrangements, the Subcommittee would invite Members to indicate their interest in joining the delegation by Monday, 21 December 1998. He further sought members' view as to whether the Subcommittee should be authorized to select ten Members to join the delegation if more than ten Members indicated interest.
32. In reply to the Chairman, Deputy Secretary General said that a sum of $326,000 had been provided in the 1998/99 budget for Members' visits to other legislatures. Mr TSANG Yok-shing asked whether the provision could be carried forward to the next financial year if it was not spent before 31 March 1999. In response, Deputy Secretary General said that the unused provision could be transferred to the Operating Reserve at the discretion of The Legislative Council Commission. He pointed out that a similar provision had been included in the estimate for the 1999-2000 financial year.
33. Mr TSANG Yok-shing further asked whether the Subcommittee had given consideration as to how the public would perceive a delegation of LegCo Members spending a sum of $310,000 on a parliamentary friendship group visit at a time of economic downturn. In his view, the visit should be deferred to a later date as it was not of an urgent nature.
34. Mr Edward HO said that the Subcommittee had a thorough discussion on the matter and concluded that it was worthwhile that a delegation of LegCo Members should visit Japan in the early part of next year to strengthen ties with the Japan/Hong Kong Parliamentarian League and also to gain first-hand knowledge of how Japan dealt with the current financial turmoil.
35. Dr LUI Ming-wah echoed Mr HO's view and said that the delegation could also learn from Japan's experience in the development of high-tech industries, given that the Chief Executive had accorded high priority to promoting innovative technology in the territory.
36. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong said that a breakdown of the estimated expenditure for the visit was not given in the paper and asked how the budget of $310,000 was arrived at. In reply, Mr Edward HO said that the main items of expenditure were air passage, hotel accommodation and hosting a dinner for the Japanese side. He further said that the hotel room rate was about $1,500 per night, which was by no means expensive given the high living costs in Tokyo. Assistant Secretary General 3 added that other items of expenditure included local transportation costs and hiring of interpreters. The Chairman said that a detailed breakdown on the budget for any proposed visit should be provided for Members' scrutiny in the future.
37. Mrs Selina CHOW said that the visit was a business trip undertaken by Members for learning purpose. It should not be deferred on account of the current economic situation. She added that the dinner to be hosted by the delegation should be of an appropriate standard, given the occasion and status of the guests.
38. In reply to Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr Edward HO said that the delegation would travel on business class in line with past practice. He pointed out that an exception was made in the previous parliamentary friendship group visit to Japan in 1994, when Members of the former LegCo travelled on economy class because of over-subscription in the number of Members participating in the visit. He added that the overall budget would be reduced by $30,000 if the delegation travelled on economy class.
39. Messrs CHAN Wing-chan, CHEUNG Man-kwong and LEE Wing-tat were of the view that the delegation should economise on air passage.
40. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the delegation should travel on economy class and that the budget should not exceed $270,000. If more than ten Members indicated interest in joining the delegation, the additional expenditure would be shared equally among the Members concerned.
41. To facilitate booking arrangements, Assistant Secretary General 3 suggested and members agreed that the deadline for Members to indicate intention to join the delegation would be 5:00 pm on Monday, 21 December 1998. Assistant Secretary General 3 said that a circular would be issued after the meeting.
Use of the electronic queuing system for asking supplementary questions on a trial basis during Question Time at the Council meeting on 6 January 1999
42. The Chairman said that with the completion of the enhancement work on the Electronic Voting System, the electronic queuing system for asking supplementary questions would be tried out during the Question Time at the Council meeting on 6 January 1999. He reminded members to press the "request-to-speak" button, in addition to raising their hands to signify their intention to ask supplementary questions.
43. In response to Mrs Selina CHOW, Assistant Secretary General 3 explained that the number of supplementary questions asked by individual Members at previous Council meetings would be one of the factors to be taken into account by the President in determining the order for asking supplementary questions.
44. In response to Mr Howard YOUNG, the Chairman said that in determining the order, the President would also take into consideration the relevance of the original question to the constituencies which individual Members represented.
45. Miss Cyd HO Sau-lan referred to questions No. 2 and 3 in LC Paper No. CB(3) 925/98-99 under agenda item IV(a) and asked whether there had been any change in the rule previously agreed by the House Committee that an oral question should not contain more than three parts. In reply, Assistant Secretary General 3 explained that the two questions were still in draft form pending revision.
|46. Mrs Selina CHOW said that Members were sometimes allowed to ask follow-up questions which introduced matters not related to the original question or answer, thus prolonging the duration of the Question Time unnecessarily. The Chairman undertook to convey Mrs CHOW's view to the President.
47. The meeting ended at 6:07 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
6 January 1999