LC Paper No. CB(2) 134/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 5th meeting
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
at 2:30 pm on Friday, 24 July 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP, House Committee Chairman (in the chair)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum, House Committee 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 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 LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
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 James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
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-fan, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon CHIM Pui-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
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Members absent :
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-Hong
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Clerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 4th meeting held on 17 July 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
- Ms Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mrs Betty LEUNG
- Assistant Secretary General 3 (Acting)
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Miss Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- Mr LAW Wing-lok
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)5
- Mrs Florence LAM
- Chief Assistant Secretary (3)2
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Senior Assistant Secretary (3)2
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (3)3
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 70/98-99)
1. Members noted that Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung's name should be shown under Members present�as he was present at the meeting held on 17 July 1998.
2.The minutes were confirmed subject to the above amendment.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
3.The Deputy Chairman said that he had briefed CS on the recommendations of the subcommittee formed to prepare for the setting up of the Select Committee to inquire into matters relating to the opening of the new airport. CS had responded that she hoped Members would give more thought before deciding to begin the inquiry right away.
4.The Deputy Chairman informed members that he had asked the Administration to make a re-submission on the Home Starter Loan Scheme to the Finance Committee as soon as possible. CS said that the Administration would have to know Members�
stance on the matter before making a re-submission.
5.In response to Miss Margaret NG, the Chairman said that he would, at his next meeting with CS, ask the Administration to provide details of the legislative programme as soon as possible.
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings
(a) Legal Service Division's report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
Fisheries Protection (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 11/98-99)
6.Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that the Bill sought to give the Chief Executive in Council the power to make regulations for prohibition or restriction of the use, for the purpose of fishing, of any apparatus of a class or description to be specified by the Director of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Bill also sought to confer power to amend the Schedule to the Fisheries Protection Ordinance onto the Director. He pointed out that the power to amend in comparable provisions in other legislation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was usually delegated to the Chief Executive in Council or a public officer at the Secretary level.
7.The Chairman said that there would not be a need to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill at this stage, given that the fishermen associations, concerned groups and relevant advisory bodies were all supportive of the Bill. However, he was of the view that the Legal Service Division should seek information from the Administration as to why a public officer at Director level was to be given powers to specify prohibited apparatus(es) and to amend a Schedule of an Ordinance, both of which involved the imposition of criminal liabilities. Members agreed.
(b) Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 22 July 1998 (gazetted on 17 July 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 16/98-99)
8.Referring to the paper which detailed the three items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 17 July 1998, the Legal Adviser explained that the Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) (Amendment) Regulation 1998 sought to enable minor sewage works involving road closure to be carried out without having to gazette the scheme concerned. He added that the Advisory Council on the Environment had endorsed the proposed amendments.
9.The Chairman said that the proposed lifting of the gazetting requirement would deprive members of the public of a channel to raise objections. He suggested and members agreed to form a subcommittee to study the Amendment Regulation. The following members agreed to join the subcommittee : Mr Albert HO, Mr LAU Kong-wah and Miss Emily LAU.
10.Members raised no queries on the other two items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
11.The Chairman further said that he would give notice to move a resolution at the Council meeting on 29 July 1998 to extend the scrutiny period of the Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) (Amendment) Regulation 1998 and those items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 24 July 1998 to 9 September 1998.
IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 29 July 1998
(a) Bill - First and Second Readings
Securities (Amendment) Bill 1998
12.The Chairman said that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 29 July 1998 and considered by the House Committee meeting on 4 September 1998.
(b) Bills - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
(i) Supplementary Appropriation (1997-98) Bill 1998
(ii) Holidays (Amendment) Bill 1998
13.Members agreed at the last meeting that the Second Reading debate on the above Bills be resumed.
(c) Government motion
Resolution under section 31(4) of the Import and Export Ordinance (Cap. 60) - to be moved by Secretary for Trade and Industry
(LC Paper No. LS 17/98-99)
14.The Legal Adviser said that the resolution sought to reduce declaration charges for imports and domestic exports specified in the Import and Export (Registration) Regulation under the Import and Export Ordinance. The legal and drafting aspects of the draft resolution were in order.
15.Members raised no queries on the draft resolution.
16.The Chairman said that the President had agreed to extend the deadline of notice of amendments to the resolution to 12:00 noon on Saturday, 25 July 1998.
(d) Members motion
Motion on Resolution on Legislative Council Emblem�/b>
17.Referring to the resolution, the Chairman said that The Legislative Council Commission had agreed at its meeting on 23 July 1998 that the design attached to the resolution should be adopted as the Legislative Council emblem until a better emblem was designed.
18.Several members expressed objection to the adoption of the design as the emblem of the Council. They considered that the design resembled too closely the emblem of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and did not reflect the independence of the Legislature from the Executive.
19.A few members suggested that outside artists should be invited to produce designs for the House Committee's consideration.
20.Some other members were of the view that it would be difficult to reach a consensus on a matter involving artistic expression or design.
21.Dr LAW Chi-kwong suggested that the House Committee should take a view as to whether the design attached to the resolution should be adopted as the emblem of the Council on the understanding that the Commission would at the same time continue to look for a better design.
22.The Chairman put Dr LAW's proposal to vote. There were 30 votes for and 19 votes against the proposal. The Chairman declared that Dr LAW's proposal in paragraph 21 was agreed.
23.The Chairman said that he would move the resolution at the Council meeting on 29 July 1998.
Report of the Bills Committee on Holidays (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 88/98-99)
24.Mr Andrew CHENG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, referred members to the paper and said that he had made a verbal report on the main points of deliberations of the Bills Committee at the last meeting.
25.Mr CHENG further said that the President had ruled that Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung's proposed amendment of re-introducing the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day as a general holiday with effect from the year 2000 would not have a charging effect within the meaning of Rule 57(6) of the Rules of Procedure. Mr LEUNG would move the amendment at the Committee stage of the Bill at the Council meeting on 29 July 1998.
VI. Procedure for the election of Member to preside at a Council meeting in the absence of the President of the Legislative Council and the President's Deputy
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 97/98-99)
26.Members endorsed the election procedure as set out in the Appendix to the paper.
27.Members also agreed that the election procedure should be incorporated into the Rules of Procedure as a Schedule.
VII. Procedure for election of the 13 Members of the Select Committee to inquire into matters relating to the opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 109/98-99)
28.Before the meeting proceeded to consider the procedure for the election of members of the Select Committee, the Legal Adviser explained the legal implications of the inquiry proceedings by the Commission of Inquiry (the Commission) on the privileges and immunities of Members as detailed in LC Paper No. LS 20/98-99 which was tabled at the meeting.
29.In response to Mr Martin LEE, the Legal Adviser explained that section 8 of the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance (Cap. 86) provided for certain conduct to be contempt offences that might be dealt with by a Commission. However, Members were protected by the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance (Cap. 382) in that no civil or criminal proceedings could be instituted against Members for words spoken before, or written in a report to, the Council or a committee, which included a select committee.
30.The Legal Adviser also referred members to paragraph 9 of the paper and said that previous Select Committees had decided that Members should only ask questions for the purpose of establishing facts in connection with the inquiry during open hearings of Select Committees and that they should not make comments or statements during these sessions. Moreover, Members should refrain from making comments outside the proceedings of Select Committees. The Legal Adviser explained that these decisions, if followed, might have the effect of not exposing Members to the risk of legal liabilities arising from their activities outside the proceedings of the Council or a committee.
31.In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, the Legal Adviser said that under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, witnesses summoned to appear before the Select Committee had the same rights and privileges as before a court of law.
32.Miss Emily LAU asked whether Members who made comments in public relating to the operation of the new airport not within the conditions mentioned in Justice WOO's press statement made on 23 July 1998 would constitute a contempt of the Commission. The Legal Adviser replied that it was difficult to say with certainty that no legal liabilities would arise in such a situation. However, generally speaking, acts done outside the Council or a committee which were not intended or likely to interfere with the fair administration of justice would not be regarded as contempt of court.
33.Mr Martin LEE and Mrs Selina CHOW asked whether the media would run the risk of committing a contempt if they reported on the proceedings of the Select Committee. The Legal Adviser replied that there were provisions in the Defamation Ordinance (Cap. 21) providing privilege of reporting to the media if they were reporting the truth. However, the media would not be protected by the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance.
34.Professor NG Ching-fai enquired whether the Select Committee could publish its report prior to the completion of the Commission's inquiry. The Legal Adviser replied that it was entirely up to the Select Committee to determine the timing of publishing its report. The only restriction being that the Select Committee must complete its inquiry and report to the Council before the end of the current legislative session.
35.Mr LAU Kong-wah asked whether it would be a contempt of the Select Committee if a person previously summoned to appear before the Commission refused to give evidence at a Select Committee hearing for fear of contempt of the Commission. The Legal Adviser explained that although section 16 of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance stated that such a claim was not an excuse for refusing to give evidence, it would still be up to the Select Committee to decide whether or not to exempt the attendance of the witness.
In response to Mr Albert HO, the Legal Adviser said that there were similar cases in the past where a Select Committee conducted an inquiry into a subject matter which was at the same time under the investigation of a Commission of Inquiry.
Miss Margaret NG suggested that the Select Committee should keep a watching brief on the work of the Commission. The Legal Adviser said that there were no provisions in the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance for an outsider to observe the proceedings of the Commission. However, the Commission could be asked to provide transcripts of its proceedings to the Select Committee.
36.Members endorsed the election procedure as set out in paragraph 3 of the paper. The Chairman invited members to make nominations for the Select Committee for appointment by the President. As there were 13 nominations, the Chairman declared that the following Members were elected to the Select Committee -
Mr Edward HO Sing-tin
Dr Raymond HO Chung-tai
Mr LEE Wing-tat
Miss Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee
Mr MA Fung-kwok
Mr Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum
Miss Christine LOH Kung-wai
Mr CHAN Kam-lam
Mr SIN Chung-kai
Mr LAU Kong-wah
Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing
Miss CHOY So-yuk
[The meeting was suspended for 10 minutes to allow the Members elected for appointment to the Select Committee to elect from among themselves the Chairman and Deputy Chairman.]
37.Members noted that Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee and Dr Raymond HO Chung-tai were elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Select Committee respectively.
38.Mrs Selina CHOW pointed out that the wording of Mr LAU Kong-wahs resolution on Appointment of Select Committee�relating to the independent team and the three-month period restriction�was no longer applicable in view of the establishment of the Commission which was expected to complete its work in six months.
39.Members agreed that the 13 Members elected for appointment to the proposed Select Committee should consider and propose a revised version of the resolution for the President's approval.
40.Mr Martin LEE suggested that Members should be allowed to move amendments to the revised resolution by giving one day's notice. The Chairman said that he would convey Mr LEE's suggestion to the President.
[Post-meeting note: The revised wording of the resolution was issued to members vide LC Paper No. CB(3) 134/98-99 dated 27 July 1998.]
VIII. Formation of Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 62/98-99 issued vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 44/98-99 on 15 July 1998)
41.Members endorsed the terms of reference of the Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee and the election procedure proposed in paragraph 4 of the paper. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the subcommittee should comprise nine members.
42.The Chairman invited members to make nominations for Members to serve on the subcommittee. The following nine members were elected -
Mr David CHU Yu-lin
Mr Edward HO Sing-tin
Mr LEE Kai-ming
Professor NG Ching-fai
Mr Ronald ARCULLI
Mr James TO Kun-sun
Miss Christine LOH Kung-wai
Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung
Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing
IX. Arrangements for Members�meetings-cum-luncheons with Provisional District Board members
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 56/98-99)
43.Members endorsed the arrangements proposed in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the paper.
X. Any other business
(a) Procedure in dealing with the introduction of Members�Bills as provided in Article 74 of the Basic Law and the interpretation of Article 48(10) of the Basic Law (Information paper from the Committee on Rules of Procedure)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 45/98-99)
44.Members noted the deliberations of the Committee on Rules of Procedure (CRoP) as detailed in the paper.
45.Mrs Selina CHOW, Chairman of the CRoP, said that if Members had any views on the matter, they should forward their views to the CRoP.
(b) Formation of working groups under the LegCo redress system to handle complaints from deputations arising from specific issues (for example, objection to the routing of West Rail)
46.Mr Martin LEE said that there appeared to be a need for a review of the existing arrangements under the LegCo redress system for receiving representations made by deputations, so as to avoid different groups of Members receiving complaints or representations from different deputations on the same issue. He cited as an example the representations made by two different deputations, both concerning objection to the routing of the West Rail, which were received by two different groups of Members. Mr LEE was of the view that it would be more effective if the same group of Members handled the representations made by the two deputations.
47.Dr YEUNG Sum said that the review should also examine what structural changes in the LegCo redress system needed to be made in the light of the provision in Article 73(8) of the Basic Law relating to the Council's power to receive and handle complaints from Hong Kong residents.
48.The Chairman suggested and members agreed to form a subcommittee to review the LegCo redress system. The Secretariat would issue a circular inviting members to join the subcommittee.
[Post-meeting note: The following members agreed to join the Subcommittee on Review of the Operation of the LegCo Redress System: Miss Cyd HO Sau-lan, Mr Martin LEE Chu-ming, Mr LEE Kai-ming, Dr LEONG Che-hung, Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, Mr Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, Miss CHOY So-yuk and Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo. Dr LEONG was elected Chairman of the Subcommittee at the meeting held on 31 July 1998.]
(c) The Chief Executive's question and answer sessions and meetings with the Chief Secretary for Administration
49.Mr LEE Wing-tat said that he was disappointed at CS's reply to his question on 22 July 1998 regarding the frequency of the Chief Executive (CE)'s attendance at meetings of the Council. He suggested that a letter be sent to the CE in the name of the House Committee requesting that -
- question-and-answer sessions should be held on a more regular basis, say once every two months;
- the CE should address the Council after each trip to Beijing to report on his work, and answer questions raised by Members on such trips; and
- the CE should hold question-and-answer sessions as and when necessary, or in response to Members�request, to explain important government policies.
50.Miss Margaret NG and Miss Emily LAU echoed Mr LEE's view and said given the Administration was to be accountable to the legislature, the CE had a constitutional responsibility to attend Council meetings to answer Members�questions.
51.Members agreed that the Chairman of the House Committee should write to the CE to reflect members�views.
(d) LegCo Fun Day 1998-99
(LC Paper No. AS 33/98-99)
52.Members endorsed the proposals set out in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the paper.
53.The Chairman said that he and the Deputy Chairman were ex-officio members of the organizing committee. The following members agreed to join the Committee: Mr NG Leung-sing, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong, Mr CHAN Kwok-keung and Mr Howard YOUNG.
(e) Human Rights Violations in Indonesia
54.Mrs Selina CHOW said that Miss Christine LOH had earlier circulated to Members a letter addressed to the President of the Republic of Indonesia expressing grave concern about the alleged human rights violations against ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. Mrs CHOW felt that the Council should consider taking some action to express its concern over such human rights violations.
|55.After discussion, members agreed that a letter to be signed by all Members should be sent to the President of the Republic of Indonesia. Members further agreed that a letter should be sent to the President of the People's Republic of China, and copied to the CE, by the Chairman of the House Committee.
(e) Date of next meeting
56.The Chairman informed members that the next meeting of the House Committee would be held on 4 September 1998.
57.The meeting ended at 5:20 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
2 September 1998