LC Paper No. CB(2) 2165/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative CouncilMembers present :
Minutes of the 33rd meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 4:05 pm on Friday, 28 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 Albert HO Chun-yan
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 Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
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 SZETO Wah
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JPMembers absent :
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JPClerk in attendance :
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Justina LAM
- Clerk to the House Committee
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 32nd meeting held on 21 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
- Ms Bernice WONG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 1
- Miss Anita HO
- Assistant Legal Adviser 2
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- 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
- Miss Odelia LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
- Mrs Betty LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (3)1
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2119/98-99)
1 The minutes were confirmed.II. Matters arising
(a) Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration
2. The Chairman said that the Director of Administration had informed him that a number of bills would be introduced in late June/early July 1999.
(b) Proposals to tackle air pollution
3. The Chairman said that in considering the Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission)(Amendment)(Regulation) 1999 at the last House Committee meeting, Miss Emily LAU had requested information on the Government's proposals to tackle air pollution, including raising fines for smoky vehicles.
4. The Secretary General said that a paper entitled "Increase of Fixed Penalty for Smoky Vehicles", which set out the Government's short and long-term proposals to tackle air pollution, had been circulated to Members earlier. The Secretary General added that the paper was prepared by the Administration for the Bills Committee on Revenue Bill 1999.
5. Miss Margaret NG pointed out that the Bills Committee on Revenue Bill 1999 would meet deputations at its meeting on 15 June 1999 to consider Miss Christine LOH's proposal of increasing fixed penalty for smoky vehicles.
6. The Legal Adviser said that in its reply to the queries on the above Amendment Regulation raised by Mr Ronald ARCULLI and Mrs Miriam LAU at the last House Committee meeting, the Administration had stated that the Director of Environmental Protection would exercise his power under Regulation 3 of the Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission) Regulations in the following manner -
- all motor vehicles, including motor cycles and motor tricycles ordered before the gazette date of the Amendment Regulation, i.e. 14 May 1999, would be exempted from the new emission requirements;
- exemptions would be granted to motor vehicles imported into Hong Kong but not registered before 1 July 1999 and motor cycles and motor tricycles imported into Hong Kong but not registered before 10 October 1999;
- exemptions might be granted if arrangements had been made to import and register the motor vehicles before the gazette date of the Amendment Regulation, but where the arrangements could not be completed due to unforeseen reasons; and
- exemptions would be granted to classic cars over 20 years old.
7. Mrs Miriam LAU queried whether the above-mentioned exemptions would be granted by the Administration in all instances. She cited the case whereby several meetings had to be held with the Administration before motor cycles in similar situation were granted exemptions from the noise pollution requirement.
8. The Chairman suggested that the Administration's letter be circulated so that members could bring up further queries, if any, for discussion at the next House Committee meeting. Members agreed.
(c) The way forward on the problem of Hong Kong residents detained in the Mainland
9. Subsequent to the special meeting to discuss with the Administration the problem of Hong Kong residents detained in the Mainland held immediately before this meeting, the Chairman sought members' views on the following options to follow up the issue -
- the House Committee to follow up the issue;
- to refer the issue to the Panel on Security;
- to initiate a motion debate at a Council meeting; and
- to convene case conferences to follow up the individual cases.
10. Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that given the unique circumstances of each case, he expressed support for convening case conferences to follow up the individual cases. Miss Emily LAU and Mr Andrew WONG concurred with Mr CHAN.
11. Miss LAU added that it would be appropriate for the Panel on Security to follow up the policy aspects of the issue, i.e. assistance provided by the Administration to Hong Kong residents detained in the Mainland. Mr James TO shared Miss LAU's views, and pointed out that the Panel on Security had all along been following up the issue and had been collecting information in this regard.
12. Mrs Selina CHOW said that pressure exerted by the Council on the Administration to render more assistance to Hong Kong residents detained in the Mainland would in turn facilitate the Administration in pursuing the matter with the Mainland authorities.
13. The Chairman suggested that the policy aspects of the issue be followed up by the Panel on Security, and that the individual cases be dealt with by case conferences. The Chairman further suggested that, where necessary, the issue could be taken up by the House Committee again. Members agreed.
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) Road Tunnels (Government) (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 182/98-99)
14. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to provide a legal framework for providing the continual operation and management of the Cross Harbour Tunnel (CHT) after its franchise expired on 31 August 1999. He added that in order to prepare for the expiry of the franchise and the reversion of the CHT to the Government, the Revenue Bill 1999 proposed to amend the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) to include the CHT under its coverage. As the legal effect of the Bill, insofar as it related to the CHT, was conditional upon the application of Cap. 368 to the CHT, he had therefore informed the Administration that the resumption of Second Reading debate on the Bill should take place after the Revenue Bill 1999 had been passed by the Council.
15. The Legal Adviser further said that the Legal Service Division had raised queries with the Administration on why certain provisions in the Cross Harbour Tunnel By-laws requiring certain vehicles to obtain a permit in order to use the CHT had not been incorporated in the Bill, and why the current level of penalty for certain offences under Cap. 368 was proposed to be amended. The Administration had explained that there was no need to incorporate such By-laws in the Bill as the issue of the permit was regulated by the Commissioner for Transport under the Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing of Vehicles) Regulations. In respect of the latter, the proposal was made to rectify an inconsistency between the Road Tunnels (Government) Regulations and the principal ordinance which had been identified during the preparation of the Bill. The Legal Adviser considered the Administration's explanation acceptable from the legal point of view.
16. The Chairman said that the Panel on Transport had been briefed by the Administration on the Bill on 23 April 1999 and no adverse comments on the proposed amendments had been raised by the Panel.
17. Members agreed that, subject to the passing of the Revenue Bill 1999 by the Council, the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(ii) Roads and Tunnels Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 185/98-99)
18. Introducing the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that the Bill sought to improve the efficiency of procedures for prosecution of traffic offences in build, operate and transfer tunnels and Government tunnels, and to rectify the existing payment arrangements for management agreements for Government tunnels so that they would be consistent with the provisions of the Public Finance Ordinance.
19. The Legal Adviser said that the Panel on Transport had been consulted on the proposed amendments by the Administration on 23 April 1999, and no specific objection to the proposals had been raised by the Panel.
20. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(iii) Banking (Amendment) Bill 1999
(LC Paper No. LS 187/98-99)
21. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser explained that the objects of the Bill were -
- to bring Hong Kong's banking supervision framework in closer conformity with the Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision published by the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision in September 1997;
- to revise the provisions governing the publication and submission of annual audited accounts of authorized institutions; and
- to improve the operation of the Ordinance in the light of market developments.
22. The Legal Adviser further said that in response to the Legal Service Division's queries, the Administration would move Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) to extend the requirement that a locally incorporated authorized institution (AI) must seek the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)'s prior approval of any major acquisition or investment in a company which constituted 5% or more of the capital base of the AI to cover the acquisitions by subsidiaries of the AI. The Legal Adviser added that the Legal Service Division had also sought clarifications from the Administration on certain technical aspects of the Bill. He considered the Administration's explanation satisfactory.
23. Referring to the queries raised by the Hong Kong Society of Accountants (HKSA) on the Bill, the Legal Adviser said that the HKMA had replied that before exercising its discretionary power to require the AIs to publish or disclose information, HKMA would undertake to consult the banking industry prior to changes in the disclosure requirement. In line with past practice, HKSA would also be consulted in the process. He further said that in developing the 5% threshold requirement, the HKMA had looked at the cost of various subsidiaries and associates of some local banks in an attempt to determine what constituted a major acquisition or investment in terms of the banks' capital base. The results generally indicated that the figure of 5% threshold was reasonable. The HKMA had also taken into account the fact that the UK Financial Services Authority regarded a business unit or geographical unit of a bank as "significant" for supervisory purpose if they used more than 5% of the bank's regulatory capital. The HKMA had also consulted the banking industry on the proposed 5% threshold, and no objection to it had been raised by the industry. The Legal Adviser added that no adverse comments on the HKMA's reply had been made by the HKSA.
24. The Chairman said that the Panel on Financial Affairs had been briefed on the main proposals in the Bill by the Administration on 3 May 1999.
25. Mr SIN Chung-kai suggested that a Bills Committee should be formed. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Mr NG Leung-sing, Mr SIN Chung-kai and Mr FUNG Chi-kin.
(iv) Witness Protection Bill
(LC Paper No. LS 180/98-99)
26. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to provide for the establishment of a programme for the protection of certain witnesses and persons associated with witnesses. He further said that the Panel on Security had not been briefed by the Administration on the Bill.
27. The Chairman said that the current Bill was substantially the same as the Witness Protection Bill introduced into the former Legislative Council in July 1996. A Bills Committee was formed to study it, but the Bill eventually lapsed because Members did not have time to study it.
28. As the Bill had important legal and policy implications, the Chairman suggested that a Bills Committee should be formed. Members agreed. The following members agreed to join : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr James TO (as advised by Mr Fred LI) and Mr Andrew WONG.
(b) Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 26 May 1999 (gazetted on 21 May 1999)
(LC Paper No. LS 193/98-99)
29. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which detailed the seven items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 21 May 1999.
30. Referring to the Estate Agents Practice (General Duties and Hong Kong Residential Properties) Regulation, the Legal Adviser said that the Practice Regulation stipulated detailed rules relating to the conduct and practices of licensed estate agents and licensed salespersons engaged in the sale and leasing of local residential properties. As regards the Estate Agents (Determination of Commission Disputes) Regulation, the Legal Adviser explained that the Regulation provided for the determination by the Estate Agents Authority in a commission dispute referred to it.
31. Miss Margaret NG said that as the impact of the Practice Regulation on the general public would be no less than that of a bill, she suggested that a subcommittee should be formed.
32. Mr Ronald ARCULLI concurred with Miss NG. He further said that during the scrutiny of the Estate Agents Bill, members of the Bills Committee had raised concern about the relationship between the estate agents and their clients, in particular, the legal responsibilities of the estate agents to their clients.
33. Mr Fred LI declared that he was a member of the Estate Agents Authority. Mr LI expressed support for a subcommittee to be formed and pointed out that in order to allow more time for the public to study the two Regulations, the commencement dates had been decided to be 1 November 1999.
34. The Chairman suggested that a subcommittee, if formed, should study the two Regulations.
35. Members agreed that a subcommittee be formed to study the two Regulations. The following members agreed to join : Dr Raymond HO, Mr LEE Wing-tat (as advised by Mr Fred LI), Miss Margaret NG, Mr Ronald ARCULLI and Mrs Miriam LAU.
36. Miss NG said that organizations such as the Consumer Council should be invited to give their views on the two Regulations.
37. In reply to Mr ARCULLI's enquiry, the Chairman said that the deadline for amending the two Regulations was 23 June 1999 or 30 June 1999, if extended by resolution.
38. Mr ARCULLI expressed concern about the limited time to scrutinize the two Regulations. He suggested that if the subcommittee detected major problems in the process of scrutinizing the two Regulations, a report should be made to the House Committee in the first instance.
39. Members did not raise any queries on the remaining five items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
IV. Further reports by the Legal Service Division on outstanding bills
(a) Adaptation of Laws (No. 8) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 196/98-99)
40. The Legal Adviser said that the proposed amendments in the Bill were similar to those proposed in the Adaptation of Laws (No.14) Bill 1999 which were supported by members at the last House Committee meeting on 21 May 1999.
41. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(b) Adaptation of Laws (No. 14) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 133/98-99)
42. The Legal Adviser said that the proposed amendments in the Bill were along the same lines as some amendments proposed in the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998 which had been passed by the Council on 28 April 1999. The Legal Adviser further said that the Administration had proposed CSAs relating to the adaptation of the reference to "saving the rights of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors" in the Bill in line with similar adaptations in the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998.
43. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
(c) Adaptation of Laws (No. 18) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 122/98-99)
44. The Legal Adviser said that the Administration had proposed CSAs relating to the adaptation of the reference to "saving the rights of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors" in the Bill in line with similar adaptations in the Adaptation of Laws Bill 1998.
45. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed.
V. Further business for the Council meeting on 2 June 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1670/98-99)
46. Members noted the new oral questions to be asked by Dr YEUNG Sum and Mr Fred LI.(b) Bills - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading Tax Reserve Certificates (Amendment) Bill 1999
47. The Chairman said that members agreed at the House Committee on 21 May 1999 that the Second Reading debate on the above Bill be resumed.
VI. Business for the Council meeting on 9 June 1999
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 1671/98-99)
48. Members noted that Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung would replace his oral question with a new one.
(b) Bills - First and Second Readings
(i) Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999
(ii) Adaptation of Laws (No. 15) Bill 1999
49. Members noted that the above two Bills would be introduced into the Council on 9 June 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 11 June 1999.
(c) Members' motions
(i) Motion on "Civil service reform"
50. Members noted the draft wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr CHAN Kwok-keung.
(ii) Motion on "Developing Chinese medicine centre"
51. Members noted the draft wording of the above motion to be moved Mr YEUNG Yiu-chung.
52. The Chairman reminded members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the motions was 2 June 1999. The Chairman further said that the speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.
VII. Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 16 June 1999
(a) Bills - First and Second Readings
Adaptation of Laws (No. 16) Bill 1999
53. Members noted that the above Bill would be introduced into the Council on 16 June 1999 and considered by the House Committee on 25 June 1999.
(b) Government motion
Resolution under section 23(3) of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) - to be moved by the Secretary for Transport
54. The Chairman informed members that the Administration had given notice to move a resolution at the Council meeting on 16 June 1999 seeking the Council's approval of further extending the limit on the number of vehicles which might be registered as public light buses from 20 June 1999 to 20 June 2001. The Chairman added that a Legal Service Division's report on the resolution would be submitted for members' consideration at the next House Committee meeting.
(c) Members' motions
(i) Motion to be moved by Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
55. Members noted that Mr LEE Cheuk-yan had been allocated a debate slot.
(ii) Motion to be moved by Hon Bernard CHAN
56. Members noted that Mr Bernard CHAN had been allocated a debate slot.
(a) Position report on Bills Committees/subcommittees
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2101/98-99)
57. The Chairman said that there were 16 Bills Committees and four subcommittees in action, including the subcommittee to study the Estate Agents Practice (General Duties and Hong Kong Residential Properties) Regulation and the Estate Agents (Determination of Commission Disputes) Regulation formed earlier at the meeting. The Chairman further said that nine Bills Committees were on the waiting list, including the two Bills Committees formed earlier under agenda item III(a)(iii) and (iv) to study the Banking (Amendment) Bill 1999 and the Witness Protection Bill.
(b) Report of the Subcommittee to study issues relating to the tabling of subsidiary legislation in Legislative Council
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 1371/98-99)
58. Referring to the paper, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the subcommittee, said that the Administration would introduce the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1999 to resolve the problem of non-tabling of certain subsidiary legislation. Mr ARCULLI pointed out that the Administration would first consult the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services before introducing the Bill into the Council.
(c) Report of the Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation relating to District Councils election
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 2122/98-99)
59. Mr Andrew WONG, Chairman of the subcommittee, highlighted the main deliberations of the subcommittee as detailed in the paper. He said that the subcommittee recommended that the District Councils (Subscribers and Election Deposits for Nomination) Regulation, the Maximum Scale of Election Expenses (District Councils) Order 1999 and the Electoral Affairs Commission (Nominations Advisory Committees (District Councils)) Regulation be supported.
60. Mr WONG added that there should be a convention for the Legislative Council not to intervene in election related subsidiary legislation to avoid the suspicion that Members were taking advantage of their position to further their interests in the election concerned.
61. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 4:51 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
2 June 1999