LC Paper No. CB(2) 543/98-99

Ref : CB2/H/5

House Committee of the Legislative Council

Minutes of the 11th meeting
held in the Legislative Council Chamber
at 5:00 pm on Friday, 30 October 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 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 Eric LI Ka-cheung, 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 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 Bernard CHAN
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
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 Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members absent :

Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
Hon FUNG Chi-kin

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Clerk to the House Committee

Staff in attendance :

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

Assistant Secretary General 3

Miss Connie FUNG
Assistant Legal Adviser 3

Mr Stephen LAM
Assistant Legal Adviser 4

Mrs Anna LO
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

Mr Andy LAU
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)6 (Acting)

Miss Mary SO
Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8

I.Confirmation of the minutes of the 10th meeting held on 23 October 1998

Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)

2. The Chairman said that Acting CS had indicated that it would be difficult to forecast the precise timing of bills in the pipeline, as a lot depended on circumstances. However, the Administration could consider providing the rough timing, e.g. the quarter in which a bill would be introduced. The Chairman added that he would ask CS when such information would be available.

3. The Chairman further said that Acting CS had undertaken to consider the House Committee's suggestion of having public officers speak both at the beginning and towards the end of a debate on a Member's motion.

III.Business for the Council meeting on 11 November 1998


(LC Paper No. CB(3) 521/98-99)

4. The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

5. Miss Margaret NG referred members to the oral question relating to the recent trial of several Hong Kong residents in Guangzhou for kidnapping allegedly committed in Hong Kong which she tabled at the meeting. She asked for members' support for her to seek the President's permission to ask the question at the Council meeting on 11 November 1998 under Rule 24(4) of the Rules of Procedure as the question was of an urgent character and related to a matter of public importance. Members expressed support. Mr James TO informed members that the Panel on Security would hold a closed door meeting on 3 November 1998 at 2:30 pm for the Administration to brief members on the case of Mr CHEUNG Tse-keung.

(b)Bills - First and Second Readings

(i)Adaptation of Laws (No. 3) Bill 1998

(ii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 4) Bill 1998

(iii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 5) Bill 1998

(iv)Adaptation of Laws (No. 6) Bill 1998

(v)Marriage (Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record) Bill 1998

(vi)Business Registration (Amendment) Bill 1998

6. Members noted that the above six Bills would be introduced into the Council on 11 November 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 13 November 1998.

(c)Government motions

Five resolutions made under section 4 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) - to be moved by Secretary for Security

(LC Paper No. LS 56/98-99)

7. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the five resolutions sought the Council's approval for the five Orders made under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance to implement the bilateral agreements for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters with Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America. The five Orders specified the scope and procedures in relation to the provision of assistance in criminal matters. They also provided for safeguards of the rights of persons involved in criminal proceedings. Detailed provisions of the five Orders were set out in the relevant LegCo Brief. The Legal Adviser added that the Council had the power to approve or repeal the five Orders but not to amend them.

8. Miss Margaret NG pointed out that unlike the other four other bilateral agreements entered into with Australia, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, there was no provision in the Hong Kong/US Agreement for refusal by the Requested Party if the request was related to an offence which carried death penalty within the jurisdiction of the Requesting Party. She suggested that a subcommittee be formed to examine why the death penalty exception provision was left out in the Hong Kong/US Agreement. Members agreed to form a subcommittee to study the five resolutions. The following members agreed to join the subcommittee : Miss Margaret NG, Mr James TO and Mrs Miriam LAU.

9. The Chairman said that the Administration would be asked to withdraw the notice for moving the resolutions at the Council meeting on 11 November 1998.

(d)Members' motions

(i)Motion on "Encouraging public utilities companies to reduce fees"

10. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Gary CHENG Kai-nam.

(ii)Motion on "Reviving Hong Kong's tourism industry"

11. Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr David CHU Yu-lin.

12. The Chairman informed members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 4 November 1998. The normal speaking time limits stipulated in rule 17(c) of the House Rules would apply.

IV.Advance information on business for the Council meeting on 18 November 1998

(a)Bill - First and Second Readings

(i)Industrial Training (Clothing Industry) (Amendment) Bill 1998

(ii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 7) Bill 1998

(iii)Adaptation of Laws (No. 8) Bill 1998

13. Members noted that the above three Bills would be introduced into the Council on 18 November 1998 and considered by the House Committee on 20 November 1998.

(b)Members' motions

(i)Motion on "Incidents of wage reduction"

14. Members noted that Mr CHAN Wing-chan had been allocated a debate slot.

(ii)Motion on "Policy on land sale"

15. Members noted that Mr LEE Wing-tat had been allocated a debate slot.

16. The Chairman informed members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and notice of amendments (if any) to the motions were 3 and 11 November 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) 502/98-99)

17. The Chairman said that there were eight Bills Committees and three subcommittees on subsidiary legislation, including the subcommittee formed earlier at the meeting.

VI.Legal Procedure for Adjustment in Fares of Licensed Ferry Services

(LC Paper No. LS 54/98-99)

18. Referring to his letter, Mr LAU Chin-shek said that the Administration might be ultra vires in not publishing the two notices relating to the determination of the maximum fares for licensed ferry services in the form of a legal notice. According to the Legal Service Division, notices made under section 33(1) of the Ferry Service Ordinance (Cap. 104) had legislative effect and should be regarded as subsidiary legislation subject to scrutiny by the Council under section 34 of the General and Interpretation Ordinance (Cap. 1). However, the Administration held the view that such notices did not have legislative effect and were purely administrative in nature. Mr LAU expressed concern that the Administration's interpretation of the legal status of notices made under section 33(1) of Cap. 104 would undermine the Council's power in scrutinising the fare adjustment proposals of other licensed ferry services.

19. In reply to the Chairman, the Legal Adviser said that a notice under section 33(1) of Cap. 104 had always been published in the form of a general notice. Notwithstanding this, he was of the view that since it had been the case that an order made by the Chief Executive in Council under section 19(1) of Cap.104 determining the maximum fares chargeable on franchised ferry services was treated as subsidiary legislation, there appeared to be sufficient grounds to argue that notices made under section 33(1) of Cap.104 also had legislative effect and accordingly fell within the definition of "subsidiary legislation". Nevertheless, in the absence of a clear and binding decision on the meaning of "having legislative effect" and because of the existing practice adopted by the Administration, Members might consider examining the issue of whether a "notice in the Gazette" published in pursuant to a provision in an ordinance which was of similar wording was subsidiary legislation.

20. Mrs Miriam LAU said that the Panel on Transport would continue to discuss the legal procedure for adjustment of fares of licensed ferry services at its next meeting on 27 November 1998. She pointed out that the operation of public light buses (PLB) was also on a licence basis and asked the Legal Adviser to provide information on the legal procedure involved in the adjustment of fares of licensed PLB services. The Legal Adviser undertook to provide the information to Mr LAU.

21. Miss Margaret NG said that as the focus of the matter at this stage was on the procedure for adjustment of fares of licensed ferry services, it would be more appropriate for the matter to be dealt with by the Panel on Transport rather than by the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services.

VII.Any other business

(a)Attendance of Members at Council meetings

22. The Chairman referred to the adjournment of the Council meeting on 22 October 1998 because of a lack of a quorum and urged Members to make every effort to attend Council meetings, although he appreciated that Members had other public duties to attend to.

(b)Levy of a garbage collection fee

23. Mr LAU Chin-shek said that the Administration should be requested to brief the relevant Panel on its plan to levy a garbage collection fee prior to the introduction of the fee.

24. The meeting ended at 5:35 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
4 November 1998