LC Paper No. CB(2) 1916/98-99
Paper for Special House Committee Meeting on 10 May 1999Introduction
Issue of the Right of Abode in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of
1.675 Million People in the Mainland
At the House Committee meeting on 7 May 1999, a Member suggested that a subcommittee be formed under the House Committee to follow up the issue of the right of abode (ROA) in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of 1.675 million people in the Mainland. Other Members proposed that the House Committee should continue to follow up the matter. There was also a suggestion that consideration be given to setting up a select committee.
2. The Chairman instructed the LegCo Secretariat to prepare a paper to facilitate Members' consideration of the various proposals.
Scope of Work
3. Before considering the various proposals, Members may wish to first decide on the scope of work. In this connection, there are a number of areas of concern which need to be followed up and examined in detail -
Proposals made at the House Committee meeting on 7 May 1999
- the survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department -- the Administration's assessment of the implications for service provisions and public expenditure has been based on the findings that 1.675 million people in the Mainland are eligible for ROA in the HKSAR. The reliability of the findings needs to be critically examined;
- the Administration's assessment of the implications for service provisions and public expenditure arising from the admission of 1.675 million people from the Mainland -- Members have already raised a number of queries at the special House Committee meetings on 6 and 8 May 1999;
- the Administration's proposed solutions as to how the additional demand for the various services from the arrival of 1.675 million people would be met -- so far the Administration has only presented the problems but no solutions or plans to deal with the problems; and
- the Chief Executive's announcement at the Question and Answer Session held on 6 May 1999 that the Administration was examining various options including amendment of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress or an interpretation of the relevant provisions in the Basic Law by its Standing Committee -- the Legislative Council should be consulted on the various options considered.
4. At the House Committee held on 7 May 1999, some Members were of the view that given such an extremely important issue the House Committee should continue to follow up.
5. However, some Members pointed out that the quorum requirement of the House Committee (20 members including the Chairman) would render meeting arrangements difficult. In addition, the House Committee could not summon persons concerned to testify or give evidence, unless so authorized by the Legislative Council.
Formation of a subcommittee under the House Committee
6. A Member suggested that a subcommittee be formed under the House Committee to follow up the issue. The House Committee could determine the size and composition of the subcommittee to ensure that it was not too large for efficient operation, and that its membership was largely representative of the membership of the Council.
7. Members are aware that the quorum of a subcommittee is three members including the chairman, or one third of the members including the chairman, whichever is the greater. A subcommittee also does not have powers to summon witnesses under the Legislative Council (Powers and Privilege) Ordinance.
Formation of a select committee
8. Given that there might be the need to summon persons concerned to testify or give evidence, it was also proposed that consideration be given to forming a select committee.
9. Under the Rules of Procedure, a select committee appointed by the Council may summon, as required when exercising its powers and functions, persons concerned to testify or give evidence, where so authorized by the Council. The President decides the size of a select committee, and appoints the chairman, deputy chairman and members, taking into account the House Committee's recommendations. The quorum of a select committee is one third of the members excluding the chairman.
10. One consideration is the time factor since notice has to be given for moving a motion at a Council meeting for the appointment of the select committee. The wording of the motion which includes the terms of reference of the select committee has to be drafted. To take up this task and other preparation work, ideally a subcommittee under the House Committee should first be formed.
Legislative Council Secretariat
8 May 1999