LC Paper No. CB(2)2119/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative CouncilMembers present :
Minutes of the 32nd meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 3:55 pm on Friday, 21 May 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 Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
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 LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
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 Bernard CHAN
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 LAU Kong-wah
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 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, JPMembers absent :
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hongClerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 31st meeting held on 14 May 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
- Miss Polly YEUNG
- Assistant Secretary General 1 (Acting)
- Mr Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Mrs Vivian KAM
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Miss Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- 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) 2035/98-99)
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 he had informed CS that the Bills Committee on Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill had commenced work.
(b) Follow-up on the right of abode issue
(Mr Ambrose CHEUNG's letter dated 21 May 1999 tabled and attached in Annex
3. The Chairman referred members to the letter he had just received from Mr Amborse CHEUNG and invited Mr CHEUNG to speak.
4. Mr CHEUNG said that in his view a constitutional convention had been established for the Chief Executive to seek interpretation of the Basic Law from the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) following the endorsement by the Council on 19 May 1999 of the Government motion on the Chief Executive's decision to request the State Council to approach the NPCSC to interpret Article 22(4) and Article 24(2) of the Basic Law. He added that the Government had undertaken to make public the content of the Chief Executive's request to the State Council and to consider whether a formal mechanism was needed for submitting future requests for interpretation of provisions in the Basic Law to the NPCSC. He therefore suggested that the Panel on Constitutional Affairs should follow up these issues.
5. The Chairman suggested inviting members of the Basic Law Committee to brief members on the procedures involved in seeking an interpretation of the Basic Law from the NPCSC as well as the operation of the Basic Law Committee. He invited members' views as to whether the Panel on Constitutional Affairs should be asked to undertake the task or whether the House Committee should continue to follow up the matter.
6. Mr James TO said that there was a need to ask the Basic Law Committee to explain whether, in interpreting the relevant provisions of the Basic Law to resolve the right of abode issue, the NPCSC would conduct hearings and receive public views. He further said that the Administration should be asked to respond to Mr Justice Godfrey's opinion that a judge would not have to apply the NPSCS's interpretation of the Basic Law if the interpretation had not been properly obtained. He stressed that it was necessary for the Council to follow up these issues, as well as other issues raised by members at the special House Committee meetings to which the Administration had yet to respond. He added that he was concerned about the difficulty of forming a quorum should the House Committee continue to follow up the matter.
7. Mr TO also informed members that he had asked the Legal Adviser to write to the Department of Justice seeking clarification on what the Government would do in respect of those persons whose circumstances were similar to the applicants in the two cases described by the Court of Final Appeal as "test cases". He asked the Secretariat to circulate the letter to members for information.
8. Mr LEE Wing-tat shared Mr TO's concern and said that the work of the Bills Committees would be disrupted if the task was undertaken by the House Committee.
9. Miss Cyd HO said the Administration should be asked to brief members on its plans on service provisions to cater for the intake of some 200 000 eligible Mainland residents. She was of the view that the matter should continue to be followed up by the House Committee.
10. Miss Emily LAU suggested that a subcommittee under the House Committee should be formed to follow up the relevant issues. She added that public views on the Chief Executive's request to seek an interpretation of the Basic Law should be invited.
11. In summing up, the Chairman said that a number of issues needed to be followed up, in particular the procedures involved in seeking interpretation of the Basic Law from the NPCSC. He sought members' views as to whether the follow-up work should be undertaken by the House Committee or the Panel on Constitutional Affairs. All the members present at the meeting, except one, were in favour of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs taking up the task. The Chairman said that the matter would be followed up by 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) Adaptation of Laws (No. 12) Bill 1999
(ii) Adaptation of Laws (No. 13) Bill 1999
(LC Papers No. LS 174/98-99 and LS 175/98-99)
12. The Legal Adviser introduced the two papers which detailed the amendments proposed in the Adaptation of Laws (No.12) Bill 1999 (No. 12 Bill) and Adaptation of Laws (No. 13) Bill 1999 (No. 13 Bill). He said that most of the proposed amendments in the No. 12 Bill were terminological changes consistent with the principles set out in the "Adaptation of Laws Programme Guiding Principles and Guideline Glossary of Terms" and contained in decisions of the previous Bills Committees on Bills presented under the adaptation of laws programme.
13. The Legal Adviser further said that the Legal Service Division had raised queries on some technical drafting points in the two Bills, in particular on the reason for changing the word "Crown" to "State" in the Hong Kong Industrial Estates Corporation Ordinance in the No.12 Bill and the Consumer Council Ordinance in the No.13 Bill. He added that the Legal Service Division would submit further reports in due course.
14. Mrs Miriam LAU suggested that a decision on the No.12 Bill and No.13 Bill be deferred pending Legal Service Division's further reports. Members agreed.
(iii) Tax Reserve Certificates (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 181/98-99)
15. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to improve the tax reserve certificates (TRCs) system by abolishing paper certificates for normal TRCs and replacing them by scripless TRCs, and paying TRCs interest at moving rates prescribed for conditional TRCs. He added that the Administration had briefed the Panel on Financial Affairs on the details of the Bill on 1 March 1999 and no adverse comment on the proposals had been raised by the Panel.
16. Referring to the exchange of correspondence between the Legal Service Division and the Administration on the drafting aspects of the Bill detailed in paragraph 10 of the paper, the Legal Adviser said that with the Committee Stage amendments proposed by the Administration to empower the Secretary for the Treasury to make rules relating to the maintenance of electronic TRC accounts, the Legal Service Division was of the view that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order.
17. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(iv) Adaptation of Laws (No. 14) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 177/98-99)
18. The Legal Adviser said that the amendments proposed in the Bill were mainly terminological changes consistent with similar adaptations in the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and Adaptation of Laws (No.2) Bill 1998 which had been passed by the Council.
19. The Chairman suggested and Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(b) Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 19 May 1999 (gazetted on 14 May 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 188/98-99)
20. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which detailed the two items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 14 May 1999.
21. Referring to the Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission)(Amendment) Regulation 1999, the Legal Adviser said that the Amendment Regulation sought to tighten the emission standards for certain motor vehicles first registered on or after 1 July 1999 and to introduce a set of emission standards for motor cycles and motor bicycles first registered on or after 10 October 1999. He added that the Administration had briefed the Panel on Environmental Affairs on the proposed amendments on 29 March 1999.
22. The Legal Adviser further said that some members of the taxi trade at first voiced objection to the proposed tightening of the emission standards for diesel taxis, but they subsequently raised no objection following the Administration's clarification that the proposal would only affect newly registered diesel taxis and that vehicles meeting the new standards were now available in the local taxi market.
23. Mr Ronald ARCULLI asked how the Amendment Regulation would affect those motor vehicles which had been or were being imported into Hong Kong but would not be registered under the Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing of Vehicles) Regulations before 1 July 1999 or for which orders had been placed by importers prior to the publication of the Amendment Regulation but which would not be imported into Hong Kong until after 1 July 1999. He was of the view that a decision on the Amendment Regulation be deferred until the next meeting on 28 May 1999 to allow time for clarification to be sought from the Administration.
24. Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr James TIEN and Mr Edward HO shared Mr ARCULLI's view. Mrs LAU further asked whether any grace period would be allowed for importers who had placed orders prior to the publication of the Amendment Regulation.
25. Mr LAW Chi-kwong said that the new emission standards proposed in the Amendment Regulation had been in force in the European Union for several years. He therefore did not consider it likely that the models of vehicles recently imported or were being delivered would not meet the new standards. Nevertheless, he agreed with Mr ARCULLI that a decision on the Amendment Regulation be deferred for one week.
26. Miss Emily LAU said that she failed to see why the Administration had put forward proposals to tighten the emission standards of certain vehicles at this stage, given that it had indicated during the deliberations of the Bills Committee on the Revenue Bill 1999 that it would put forth later in the year a whole package of proposals to tackle air pollution, including raising fines for smoky vehicles. Upon her request, the Secretary General undertook to obtain details from the Administration in this regard.
27. The Legal Adviser said that the Amendment Regulation was intended to deal with emission standards and was not related to the issue of imposing heavier fines. He further said that the Amendment Regulation did not specify any transitional provisions for those vehicles which had already been imported into Hong Kong but would not be registered before 1 July 1999, although under the Road Traffic (Registration and licensing of vehicles) Regulation the Commission for Transport had the authority to waive the registration requirement. The Legal Adviser added that he would seek clarification from the Administration on the points raised by Mr ARCULLI and Mrs LAU.
28. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that a decision on the Amendment Regulation be deferred until the next meeting on 28 May 1999.
29. Members raised no queries on the Film Censorship (Amendment) Ordinance 1999 (9 of 1999) (Commencement) Notice 1999.
IV. Further report by the Legal Service Division on outstanding bills
Adaptation of Laws (No. 15) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 190/98-99)
30. The Legal Adviser said that the Administration had proposed Committee Stage amendments relating to the adaptation of the reference to the "the Governor" in the Bill in line with similar adaptations in the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and the Adaptation of Laws (No. 2) Bill 1998 which had been passed by the Council.
V. Further business for the Council meeting on 26 May 1999
Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital Incorporation (Amendment) Bill 1999
31. The Chairman said that members agreed at the meeting on 14 May 1999 that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
VI. Business for the Council meeting on 2 June 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1644/98-99)
32. Members noted that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been scheduled.
(b) Bills - First and Second Readings
33. Members noted that no notice had been received.
(c) Bills - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
(i) Prevention of Bribery (Amendment) Bill 1999
(ii) Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1999
(iii) Adaptation of Laws (No.11) 1999
(iv) Adaptation of Laws (No.10) 1998
34. The Chairman said that members agreed at previous meetings that the Second Reading debate on the above Bills be resumed.
(d) Government motion
35. Members noted that no notice had been received.
(e) Members' motions(i) Motion on "Problem of youngster gangs"
36. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr HO Sai-chu.
(ii) Motion on "Naming the former Government House"
37. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr Howard YOUNG.
VII. Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 9 June 1999
(a) Motion on "Civil service reform"
38. Members noted that Mr CHAN Kwok-keung had been allocated a debate slot.
(b) Motion on "Assisting Hong Kong people in the Mainland"
39. Members noted that Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung had been allocated a debate slot.
40. Mr YEUNG informed members that he would move a motion on the subject of developing Chinese medicine centre instead of the above subject.
Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2018/98-99)
41. The Chairman said that there were 16 Bills Committees and four subcommittees in action, and seven Bills Committees were on the waiting list.
42. Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the Bills Committee on Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999, said that at the meeting of the Bills Committee held in the morning, he had made it clear to the Administration that it was not possible for the scrutiny of the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 and the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Bill to be completed in time for the resumption of the Second Reading debates on the two Bills to take place at the last Council meeting in the current session on 14 July 1999. The Administration had indicated that it preferred the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 to go forward first, as there was existing legislation to deal with corrupt and illegal practices in elections. He had therefore decided that the three meeting slots in the following week scheduled for the Bills Committee on Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Bill, of which he was also the Chairman, be used by the Bills Committee on the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 instead.
43. The Chairman asked whether the work of the Bills Committee on Election (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Bill would be suspended temporarily as a result of this change.
44. Mr Ronald ARCULLI responded that he would have to see how the work of the Bills Committee on Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 progressed in the following week. He added that he hoped that members of the Bills Committee as well as non-Bills Committee members wishing to propose Committee Stage amendments to the Bill would submit their proposed amendments to the Bills Committee for deliberation before the Bills Committee submitted its report to the House Committee on 2 July 1999.
45. Miss Emily LAU asked whether there had been any precedents of the approach adopted by Mr ARCULLI.
46. Mr ARCULLI explained that he had to resort to this approach in view of the cancellation of several meetings of the Bills Committee on Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999 as a result of the convening of a series of special House Committee meetings over the past two weeks. He added that his decision represented the consensus of the Bills Committee.
47. Mr LEE Wing-tat and Mr LEE Kai-ming said that they endorsed the approach adopted by Mr ARCULLI. Mr LEE Kai-ming further said that Mr ARCULLI's approach had the support of the Bills Committee on Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999.
48. The Chairman said that it was up to the Chairman of a Bills Committee to schedule meetings of the Bills Committee concerned.
IX. Any other business
Withdrawal of motions
49. Mr Fred LI said that as Miss CHAN Yuen-han had indicated at the special House Committee meeting on 18 May 1999 that she would not withdraw her motion on "Developing Chinese medicine centre" for the Council meeting on 19 May 1999, he enquired why Miss CHAN had suddenly opted to do so during the Council meeting. Mr LI pointed out that although Miss CHAN had the right under Rule 35(1) of the Rules of Procedure to withdraw her notice for moving the motion, her sudden decision had wasted Members' efforts in preparing their speeches for the motion debate. Mr Martin LEE shared Mr LI's views and enquired whether Miss CHAN had been pressurized to withdraw her motion.
50. Miss CHAN responded that she had not said at the special House Committee meeting on 18 May 1999 that she would not withdraw the notice of her motion. She merely said that she would leave the matter for Members to decide, given that her motion did not have a time element as that of the Government motion and Mr SZETO Wah's motion on "The 4 June incident". Miss CHAN further said that she had seen the President in the morning of 19 May 1999 to seek her views on whether she should withdraw her notice of the motion. The President advised her that the intention was to suspend the Council meeting around 11:00 pm that night. At about 6:00 pm, the President met Members of different political parties and groups to seek their views as to whether the Council should proceed to complete all the items of business on the agenda without suspension. As some Members raised objection to finishing all the business on that day, she had decided to withdraw her notice for moving the motion.
51. Assistant Secretary General 3 clarified that the President only conveyed to Miss CHAN the preference of some Members that the Council should complete its business on the agenda without suspension, and that the President had not at any time asked Miss CHAN to withdraw her motion.
52. Miss Emily LAU remarked that Members should adhere to the gentlemen's agreement made at the special House Committee meeting on 18 May 1999 that if the business of the Council meeting on 19 May 1999 could not be completed on that day, the President should exercise her discretion with some flexibility to suspend the meeting around 11:00 pm and resume the meeting in the afternoon of the following day.
53. Mr James TIEN said that if members were of the view that prior notification should be given for withdrawal of notice for moving motions, then the matter should be referred to the Committee on Rules of Procedure for review. Mr Edward HO concurred with Mr TIEN.
54. Miss Margaret NG opined that it would be desirable if Members would give advance notification of withdrawal of the notices of their motions and proposed Committee Stage amendments.
55. Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that Miss CHAN's withdrawal of her motion should not be criticized since she had acted in accordance with the Rules of Procedure. He added that it was not the first time that Members had withdrawn their motions under Rule 35(1) of the Rules of Procedure. Mr TAM Yiu-chung and Mr Gary CHENG echoed Mr CHAN's views. Mr CHENG further said that members should not query other Members' motive for withdrawing their motions.
56. The Chairman said that as Rule 35(1) allowed Members to withdraw their motions, he was of the view that there was no need to pursue the matter further. Members agreed.
57. The meeting ended at 4:57 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
26 May 1999
(English translation prepared by
the Legislative Council Secretariat
for Members' reference only)
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung
Chairman of the LegCo House Committee
21 May 1999
Dear Dr LEONG,
In moving the motion on "the solution to the right of abode issue" for debate at the Council meeting on 19 May 1999, the Executive Authorities undertook to look further into the issue of establishing a mechanism for the Executive Authorities to request the Central People's Government to approach the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (SCNPC) to interpret the provisions of the Basic Law. The Executive Authorities also undertook to make public a report on the move to request the State Council to seek an interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Basic Law from the SCNPC in relation to the issue in question.
In this connection, I suggest that an additional item be included in the agenda of this House Committee meeting to discuss the follow-up actions to be taken by this Council to ensure that the Executive Authorities will fulfil their undertakings.
(Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum)
Member of the LegCo House Committee