LC Paper No. CB(2) 764/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 15th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 2:30 pm on Friday, 27 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 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 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 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 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 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 LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members absent :
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
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 14th meeting held on 20 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
- 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 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
- 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
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 704/98-99)
1. The minutes were confirmed.
(a)Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. The Chairman said that CS had expressed the hope that examination of the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and Adaptation of Laws (No.2) Bill 1998 could be expedited.
|3. Miss Margaret NG pointed out that detailed scrutiny of the Adaptation of Laws bills would be necessary if the proposed amendments were not purely technical drafting changes. The Chairman undertook to convey Miss NG's view to CS.||Chairman|
4. The Chairman said that the Administration had provided a list of bills to be introduced into the Council between December 1998 and January 1999, together with a forecast of bills which the Administration planned to introduce in the next two quarters of February to April 1999, and May to July 1999. The lists would be circulated to Members.
(b)Industrial Training (Clothing Industry) (Amendment) Bill 1998
5. Mr James TIEN said that he had no further queries on the Bill, as the Administration had assured him that those small enterprise operators who needed to apply for trade declarations occasionally could convert their paper submissions into electronic ones at the service centres to be provided by the Tradelink after April 2000.
6. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
(c)Proposed resolution under Article 159 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administration Region of the People's Republic of China
7. The Chairman said that Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung had withdrawn his notice for moving the proposed resolution at the Council meeting on 2 December 1998.
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)
Adaptation of Laws (No. 9) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 63/98-99)
8. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill dealt with the adaptation of the Bills of Exchange Ordinance and 13 other ordinances relating to private banks, and that most of the proposed amendments were technical drafting changes. He added that the general principles for adapting the terms "Her Majesty, Her Heirs or Successors" used in the Reservation of Crown's Rights clause were being examined by the Bills Committee on the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998.
9. The Chairman suggested and members agreed to defer consideration of the No. 9 Bill until the Bills Committees on the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 and Adaptation of Laws (No. 2) Bill 1998 had completed work.
(b)Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 25 November 1998 (gazetted on 20 November 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 69/98-99)
10. The Legal Adviser briefly explained the five items of subsidiary legislation detailed in the paper.
11. Members did not raise any queries on the subsidiary legislation.
12. 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.Business for the Council meeting on 9 December 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 722/98-99)
13. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
(b)Bill - First and Second Readings
Film Censorship (Amendment) Bill 1998
14. 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.
Four resolutions made under section 4 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) - to be moved by Secretary for Security
15. The Chairman said that the Administration had given notices to move four separate resolutions under section 4 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance at the Council meeting on 9 December 1998. The subcommittee formed to study these resolutions would report under agenda item VII.
(i)Motion on "The repealed labour ordinances"
16. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo.
(ii)Motion on "The HKSAR's judicial jurisdiction"
17. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Martin LEE.
18. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the above motions, if any, was 2 December 1998. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
V.Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 16 December 1998
(a)Motion on "Combating pirated compact discs"
19. Members noted that Mrs Selina CHOW had been allocated a debate slot.
(b)Motion on "Reforming secondary and primary school curricula"
20. Members noted that Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong had been allocated a debate slot.
21. The Chairman informed members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and notice of amendments (if any) to the motions were 1 December 1998 and 9 December 1998 respectively. The speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
(a)Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 713/98-99)
22. The Chairman said that there were 11 Bills Committees and three subcommittees in action.
(b)Report of the Bills Committee on Hotel Accommodation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 724/98-99)
23. Introducing the report which detailed the main deliberations of the Bills Committee, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Administration had agreed to propose Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) to address the Bills Committee's concern that the licence period should be longer than 36 months as proposed in the Bill. He added that the Bills Committee supported the Bill and the CSAs proposed by the Administration.
24. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 9 December 1998.
(c)Report of the Subcommittee on five resolutions made under section 4 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525)
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 716/98-99)
25. Referring to the paper, Mr James TO, Chairman of the subcommittee, said that having scrutinized the Orders in respect of Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the subcommittee considered that the provisions set out in the four Orders were substantially in conformity with the provisions of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance and recommended that the four Orders be supported.
26. Mr TO added that the subcommittee would submit a further report upon completion of its deliberations on the Order in respect of the United States of America.
(d)Report of the Subcommittee on Professional Accountants (Amendment) Bylaw 1998
27. Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Chairman of the subcommittee, reported that the subcommittee had met with the representatives of the Hong Kong Society of Accountants (HKSA) and deputations from the Hong Kong Association of Accounting Technicians and the Hong Kong Accounting Professionals General Union to discuss the new professional accreditation system and new student membership requirements proposed in the Amendment Bylaw. The subcommittee noted that the HKSA had widely consulted the tertiary institutions and their students, leading accountancy bodies overseas and major accounting firms, and they were all supportive of the proposals. The subcommittee considered that the transitional arrangements put in place would adequately safeguard the interests of registered students and prospective students of the HKSA. The subcommittee recommended that the Amendment Bylaw made by the HKSA be supported.
(e)Report of the Bills Committee on Introduction of the Euro Bill
28. Mr Howard YOUNG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, said that the Bill sought to provide for the conversion of European Currency Unit (ECU) obligations upon the rate of one Euro to one ECU and continuity of legal obligations after the introduction of the Euro with effect from 1 January 1999. According to the Administration, although the European Council Regulations already provided certainty for the continuity of legal obligations denominated in ECU and the participating national currencies, it would be desirable to enact legislation to remove any doubt about the general continuity of legal obligations arising from the introduction of the Euro, given Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre.
29. Mr YOUNG added that members of the Bills Committee had questioned the basis for adopting as the Chinese translation of "Euro". The Administration had explained that although "Euro" was referred to as in the Mainland and Singapore, it was not the official Chinese term. The present translation was based on the principle that whenever the word "dollar" was used in a currency's name, the character would be used, otherwise the currency's name would just be translated phonetically, as in the case of "Euro". Members of the Bills Committee considered that the Administration's explanation had adequately addressed their query and recommended that the Bill be supported.
30. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed on 16 December 1998.
(f)Report of the Subcommittee on Review of the Operation of the LegCo Redress System
(LC Paper No. CP 608/98-99)
31. The Chairman introduced the paper in his capacity as the Chairman of the subcommittee. He outlined the deliberations of the subcommittee detailed in the paper and invited members' views on the following main proposals -
- the Legislative Council (Powers & Privileges) Ordinance (the Ordinance) should be extended to cover meetings conducted under the LegCo Redress System (the Redress System) by amending the Ordinance by means of a Government bill or a Member's bill, or by amending the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council;
- a note to complainants should be sent with the notice of meeting reminding them of the matters they should pay attention to for their own protection in presenting their cases at open meetings conducted under the Redress System; and
- the scope of the Redress System should be extended beyond decisions and actions of government bureaux and departments.
32. The Chairman further said that the Administration's view, as stated in the Director of Administration's letter of 26 November 1998 tabled at the meeting, was that it would not introduce legislative amendments to the Ordinance to give effect to the changes proposed in paragraph 31(a) above.
33. In reply to Mrs Selina CHOW's question, the Chairman explained that the subcommittee's proposal was to extend the privileges and immunities conferred under sections 3 and 4 of the Ordinance to Members and public officers attending meetings conducted under the Redress System, and not to members of the public.
34. Mr Andrew CHENG and Dr YEUNG Sum said that given that Article 73(8) of the Basic Law specified that one of the functions of the Council was "to receive and handle complaints from Hong Kong residents", the powers and privileges conferred under the Ordinance should be extended to cover meetings conducted under the Redress System. They considered the proposal reasonable, as Members enjoyed the same powers and privileges at meetings of Panels and other committees of the Council.
35. Mr Martin LEE added that without the extension of powers and privileges to cover meetings conducted under the Redress System, persons could not be summoned to appear at such meetings to testify or give evidence, which was provided for under Article 73(10) of the Basic Law. Furthermore, he considered that Members should be accorded protection under the Ordinance, as open meetings were sometimes held at the request of the complainants.
36. Mrs Sophie LEUNG, Mrs Selina CHOW and Mr Ronald ARCULLI expressed reservations about the subcommittee's proposal. Mrs LEUNG said that extending the powers and privileges under the Ordinance to meetings with complainants would put the Redress System at a more advantageous position other redress systems. Mrs CHOW was of the view that the flexibility inherent in the existing mechanism for dealing with complaints would be removed if the proposed change was adopted. Mr ARCULLI said that he did not see the need for powers and privileges to be conferred on Members attending meetings with the complainants, given that the majority of cases handled under the Redress System involved individual complaints against decisions or actions of government bureaux and departments.
37. Mr Andrew WONG said that Article 73(8) of the Basic Law did not specify that a formal mechanism should be established to deal with public complaints. He pointed out that there already existed both "informal" and "formal" mechanisms for dealing with public complaints. The Redress System with its inherent flexibility had worked well and its operation was neither governed by law nor the Rules of Procedure of the Council. Complaints could be handled in a "formal" manner by way of a petition or a motion under Rule 20 and Rule 29 of the Rules of Procedure respectively. In the case of the former, a Member could present a petition on grievances suffered by the public as a result of Government actions. If not less than 20 Members supported the petition, the petition would be referred to a select committee for further action in accordance with Rule 20(6). In the case of the latter, a Member could move a motion for debate in the Council on a subject matter arising from a complaint lodged by the public against a decision or policy of the Government. In either case, Members were protected under the Ordinance.
38. Mr WONG further said that the proposed extension of powers and privileges to cover meetings conducted under the Redress System would have major implications on the existing mechanisms and procedures for dealing with complaints. He suggested that the subcommittee should reconsider the proposal in greater detail.
39. In reply to Mr NG Leung-sing, the Legal Adviser said that the Ordinance was on the list of ordinances to be adapted under the Adaptation of Laws Programme. The Secretary General added that the Administration had indicated that the introduction of legislative amendments to give effect to the proposed changes to the Redress System was outside the scope of the Adaptation of Laws Programme.
40. The Chairman suggested that the subcommittee should hold further meetings to consider the proposal to extend powers and privileges to cover meetings held under the Redress System in the light of the points raised by members at the meeting. The Secretariat would invite non-subcommittee members to attend these meetings. Members agreed.
VII.Any other business
41. The Chairman said that the next meeting of the House Committee would be held on 4 December 1998 at 2:30 pm before the Finance Committee meeting scheduled to be held in the same afternoon.
42. The meeting ended at 5:07 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
26 November 1998