LC Paper No. CB(2) 704/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 14th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 2:30 pm on Friday, 20 November 1998
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 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 Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
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 James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
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
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Chin-shek, 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, JP
Members absent :
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Bernard CHAN
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
I.Confirmation of the minutes of the 13th meeting held on 13 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
- 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
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Miss Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- 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
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 647/98-99)
1. The minutes were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. The Chairman said that CS had expressed support for Members' proposal to tie in the commencement of a new legislative session with the Policy Address.
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) Industrial Training (Clothing Industry) (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 44/98-99)
3. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that the Bill sought to delete postal lodgement as a means of lodging export declarations. The amendments in the Bill tied in with those proposed in the Import and Export (Registration) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation gazetted on 23 October 1998. The Amendment Regulation dealt with the withdrawal of postal lodgement as a means of submitting trade declarations in respect of both import and export declarations. Should a Bills Committee be formed, the Bill and the Amendment Regulation should be studied together.
4. The Legal Adviser said that the Government intended to withdraw lodgement of trade declarations in person towards the end of 1999 and to make electronic data interchange the only means of lodging trade declarations by April 2000. He added that the Panel on Trade and Industry had been consulted and had expressed general support for the proposal.
5. Mr James TIEN said that as some small business operators had expressed concern that the charging system introduced by Tradelink would increase their operating costs, he suggested that a Bills Committee be formed. Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that to cater for companies that were not ready to start using electronic submission and for those that only needed to apply for trade declarations occasionally, Tradelink had set up service centres for converting paper submissions into electronic ones.
6. The Chairman suggested that the decision on whether to form a Bills Committee be deferred to the next meeting to allow time for Mr TIEN to discuss the matter further with Mr CHAN. The Legal Adviser pointed out that as the deadline for giving notice to amend the Import and Export (Registration) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 1998 was 2 December 1998, deferral of the decision on the Bill to the next meeting on 27 November 1998 would not present any procedural problems. Members agreed to the Chairman's suggestion.
(ii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 7) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 64/98-99)
(iii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 8) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 65/98-99)
7. Referring to LC Papers Nos. LS 64 & 65/98-99, the Legal Adviser explained that the two Bills dealt with the adaptation of several ordinances relating to land matters. The proposed amendments were essentially technical drafting changes and did not seek to introduce any change in policy.
8. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that resumption of Second Reading debate on the two Bills should not take place for the time being pending the outcome of the deliberations on the general principles to be applied in the adaptation of laws exercise now under consideration by Bills Committees on other Adaptation of Laws Bills.
(b)Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 18 November 1998 (gazetted on 13 November 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 62/98-99)
9. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the seven items of subsidiary legislation detailed in the paper.
10. Members did not raise any queries on the subsidiary legislation.
11. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 16 December 1998 was 9 December 1998, and the deadline for giving notice to extend the scrutiny period from 16 December 1998 to 6 January 1999 was 11 December 1998.
IV.Further business for the Council meeting on 25 November 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 662/98-99)
12. Members noted the three new questions (Nos 1, 2 and 5) and one amended question (No. 4) set out in the paper.
V.Business for the Council meeting on 2 December 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 663/98-99)
13. 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 (No. 10) Bill 1998
(ii)Theft (Amendment) Bill 1998
(iii)Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 1998
14. 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.
15. No notice had been received yet.
(i)Proposed resolution under Article 159 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China - to be moved by Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
(Two papers presented by Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung, one dated 17 November 1998 already circulated and the other dated 20 November 1998 tabled at the meeting)
16. Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung said that the President had given approval for his proposed resolution to be included in the agenda for the Council meeting on 2 December 1998. Referring to his two papers, he pointed out that clarifications on the following aspects in respect of Article 159 of the Basic Law would be required -
- what would be the mechanism for proposing amendments to the Basic Law, and who in the HKSAR had the right to propose such amendments;
- under what mechanism could the consent of two-thirds of the deputies of the HKSAR to the National People's Congress (NPC) be obtained;
- whether the local NPC deputies could amend the resolution after it had been passed by the Council, and if so, whether there would be any channel through which consultation between the Council and the NPC delegation could take place; and
- in what sequence should the consent of the local NPC deputies, the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive be obtained before an amendment bill to amend the Basic Law could be submitted to the NPC.
17. The Legal Adviser explained that Article 159 did not spell out in clear terms the mechanism for proposing amendments to the Basic Law and the process by which the consent of the relevant parties should be obtained. In his view, should Mr LEUNG's proposed resolution be carried by two-thirds of all the Members of the Council, one of the conditions of obtaining the consent of the Council as stipulated in the Article could be said to have been met.
18. The Legal Adviser further explained that Article 159 required that amendment bills from the HKSAR be submitted to the NPC by the delegation of the HKSAR to the NPC after obtaining the consent of two-thirds of the local NPC deputies, two-thirds of all the Members of the Council and the Chief Executive. He considered that Article 159, as presently worded, did not stipulate an order or sequence which had to be followed for obtaining the consent of the relevant parties specified in the Article.
19. The Chairman invited members' views as to how the issues raised by Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung should be followed up.
20. Miss Margaret NG said that Mr LEUNG's proposed resolution sought to amend the Basic Law and would have legal effect if passed. She considered it important that Members should fully understand what the legal implications were before they debated and voted on the motion.
21. Mr James TO, Mrs Selina CHOW, Mr Gary CHENG kai-nam and Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing echoed Miss NG's view and suggested that the issue of putting in place a mechanism for amending the Basic Law should be followed up by the Panel on Constitutional Affairs. Members agreed. Mr James TO and Mrs Selina CHOW added that it would not be appropriate for the Committee on Rules of Procedure to take up the task, given that the issue went beyond procedural matters of the Council.
22. Mr SZETO Wah, Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing and Mr Andrew WONG pointed out that certain issues arising from Mr LEUNG's proposed resolution, such as whether amendments could be proposed to a motion under Article 159 and whether the passage of such amendments would require the approval of two-thirds of all the Members of the Council, should be considered by the Committee on Rules of Procedure. Members agreed.
23. In reply to Miss Emily LAU, the Secretary General said that Mr LEUNG could withdraw his notice for moving the motion on 2 December 1998 to allow more time for members to study the issues involved. He added that a Member could move without notice under Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure to adjourn the debate on the motion after Mr LEUNG had spoken and moved the motion.
24. Dr YEUNG Sum said that he was in favour of deferring the debate on the motion to a later date to allow time for the Panel on Constitutional Affairs to examine the issues raised by Mr LEUNG and other members. He pointed out, however, that a motion to adjourn the debate under Rule 40 would be put to vote after Members had spoken on the motion, and if negatived, the debate on the main motion would proceed and a vote would be taken at the end of the debate.
25. Mr Andrew WONG and Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that there were no valid reasons for adjourning the debate on the motion, given that the President had already ruled that the motion was in order.
26. The Chairman said that whether Mr LEUNG should withdraw the notice for moving the motion or proceed with the debate at the Council meeting on 2 December 1998 would be a matter for Mr LEUNG to decide.
(ii)Motion on "Promoting the development of the agriculture and fisheries industries"
27. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr WONG Yung-kan.
(iii)Motion on "The Government's Scheme of Control Agreements with the two power companies"
28. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Fred LI Wah-ming.
29. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 25 November 1998. 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 9 December 1998
(a)Bill - First and Second Readings
Film Censorship (Amendment) Bill 1998
30. Members noted that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 9 December 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 18 December 1998.
(i)Motion on "Labour problems"
31. Members noted that Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo had been allocated a debate slot.
(ii)Motion on "The HKSAR's judicial jurisdiction"
32. Members noted that Mr Martin LEE Chu-ming had been allocated a debate slot.
33. The Chairman informed members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and notice of amendments (if any) to the motions were 24 November 1998 and 2 December 1998 respectively. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 643/98-99)
34. The Chairman said that there were 13 Bills Committees and three subcommittees on subsidiary legislation in action.
VIII.Any other business
(a)Paper on proposed resolution under Article 159 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
(Paper presented by Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung refers)
35. This item had been dealt with under agenda item V(d)(i).
(b)Setting up of a committee (such as a subcommittee under the House Committee) on the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance
(Letter from Mr Michael HO dated 13 November 1998)
36. Referring to his letter, Mr Michael HO said that the Administration would soon introduce an amendment bill to address the problems that had arisen since the implementation of the Human Organ Transplant Ordinance. In order that the scrutiny of the amendment bill could be completed within the shortest time, he suggested that a subcommittee under the House Committee be formed to study the Ordinance and related matters in advance of the introduction of the amendment bill into the Council. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mr Michael HO Mun-ka, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-shing, Dr YEUNG Sum, Dr LAW Chi-kwong and Dr TANG Siu-tong.
37. Mr HO further said that the Panel on Health Services would hold a special meeting on 23 November 1998 to meet with the representatives of the Human Organ Transplant Board and the Administration to discuss the relevant provisions of the Ordinance and the policies concerned. He invited members to attend the meeting.
(c)Joint-Panel meeting to consider the "Consultancy Study on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene Services"
38. Members noted that a joint meeting of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs and the Panel on Health Services would be held on 14 December 1998 to discuss the "Consultancy Study on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene Services".
39. The meeting ended at 4:00 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
25 November 1998