LC Paper No. AS 114/98-99
Ref. AM 6/05/03A (III)
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
on 23 October 1998
Regulation on Admission and Conduct of the Public
in the Precincts of the Chamber
In connection with an incident which occurred at the Council meeting on 8 October 1998 where two members of the public were removed from the public gallery when proceedings of the meeting were interrupted and upon an order by the President to do so, Hon Margaret Ng has expressed concern about the way the two persons were handled by the security staff of the Secretariat. This paper aims to brief the House Committee of the provisions on and existing security arrangements for the admission of the public into the precincts of the Legislative Council Chamber and the regulation of their conduct in the public galleries.
Provisions governing Admission of the Public and Regulation of their Conduct
Issuance of Administrative Instructions by the President of the Council
2. Section 8 of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance (Cap 382) ("the Ordinance") empowers the President to issue administrative instructions for regulating the admittance of persons to and the conduct of persons within the Chamber and the precincts of the Chamber. A copy of the Administrative Instructions ("AI") is at Appendix I. The AI are displayed at the two public entrances to the Legislative Council Building for public information pursuant to section 8(4) of the Ordinance.
Admission of the public and conduct in public galleries
3. Section 11 of the AI provides that persons entering or within the precincts of the Chamber are required to behave in an orderly manner and comply with any direction given by any officer of the Council for the purpose of keeping order. Section 12 of the AI empowers an officer of the Council to refuse admission of any person to a public gallery where in the opinion of the officer, the person seeking admission may display any signs or banners or behave in an disorderly manner in the public galleries.
Prosecution of offenders
4. Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of the Ordinance, including the AI, commits an offence. Although, under section 24 of the Ordinance, every officer of the Council is vested with all the powers of a police officer within the precincts of the Chamber for the purposes of the Ordinance and of the application of the criminal law, it has been the practice that investigation of any suspected offence is conducted by the police after a case has been reported to it. The decision whether or not to prosecute vests with the Secretary for Justice because, under section 26 of the Ordinance, consent of the Secretary is required for the prosecution of any offence under the Ordinance.
Security Arrangements by the Secretariat
5. Security services of the Legislative Council Building are provided by a team of 22 security staff members. Their duties include, inter alia, regulating admission of members of the public and their conduct in the Legislative Council Building. In accordance with the Secretariat's Standing Instructions for Security Staff and Reception Clerks, the Security Officer is also tasked with the responsibility for liaising with the police and other emergency services when their assistance is required for maintaining order, enforcement actions or other services, e.g. ambulance service. An extract of the Standing Instructions concerning the duties and responsibilities of the Security Officer is at Appendix II.
Admission of the public
6. Members of the public seeking admission to observe Council/committee proceedings are received at two public entrances (both facing Statue Square) to the Legislative Council Building. Each entrance is manned by a reception clerk, with the assistance of one to two security staff. Members of the public are admitted on a first-come-first-served basis, subject to availability of seats in the public galleries.
7. All members of the public, when registering for admission to the public galleries, are given a guidance note (copy at Appendix III) by the reception staff and are advised to behave in an orderly manner whilst within the precincts of the Chamber. They are also required to deposit their baggages, other than a handbag or similar item, at the reception counters before they are allowed admission to the public galleries.
Regulation of conduct in public galleries
8. Security staff are posted in the public galleries to provide assistance to the public and to maintain order where necessary. In the event of any incident which leads to the removal of a member of the public, the Security Officer will inform the police and invite them to take over the case for further investigation. In the course of liaising with the police, it is not the Secretariat's practice to specify the number of police officers required.
9. Members are invited to note the existing security arrangements. Any views and comments on the arrangements are welcome and will be reported to The Legislative Council Commission for consideration.
Legislative Council Secretariat
Extract from Standing Instructions for Security Staff and Reception Clerks
2. Duties of Security Officer
The Security Officer is responsible for
- Supervising and managing the Security Assistants and reception clerks to ensure that they comply with laid-down instructions in the discharge of duties;
- Designing, monitoring and reviewing the security of the Legislative Council Building and its precincts;
- Liaising with the Police and other emergency services when their assistance is required; and
- Handling petitions within the Legislative Council Building precincts.
Behaviour and Conduct in Public Galleries
Members of the public who are admitted to the Legislative Council Building to observe meetings of the Legislative Council and its committees should:
- dress properly and behave in an orderly manner,
- display a pass issued by an officer of the Council at all times,
- turn off all pagers and mobile phones,
- NOT clamour and chant slogans,
- NOT display any sign, message or banner in any manner and by any means,
- NOT take any item of baggage into the galleries unless such item has been inspected and permitted by an officer of the Council,
- NOT eat or smoke,
- NOT take any photographs; and
- comply with any directions given by any officer of the Council for the purpose of keeping order.