LC Paper No. LS 182/98-99
Paper for the House Committee MeetingObject(s) of the Bill
of the Legislative Council
on 28 May 1999
Legal Service Division Report on
Road Tunnels (Government) (Amendment) Bill 1999
To amend the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) and to make other related amendments to the Road Tunnels (Government) Regulations (Cap. 368 sub. leg.) to provide for the continual operation and management of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel after its franchise expires on 31 August 1999.
LegCo Brief Reference
2. TBCR 1/4651/88 dated 7 May 1999 issued by the Transport Bureau.
Date of First Reading
3. 26 May 1999.
4. The franchise granted to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Company to construct and operate the Cross-Harbour Tunnel ("CHT") will expire on 31 August 1999. Under section 52 of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 203), the assets of the Company including the tunnel will vest in Government upon expiry of the franchise. According to paragraph 3 of the LegCo Brief, Government will grant a management, operation and maintenance contract for the CHT through open tender for the operation and management of the CHT with effect from 1 September 1999.
5. To prepare for the expiry of the franchise and the reversion of the CHT to Government, the Revenue Bill 1999, introduced into the Legislative Council on 21 April 1999, has provided for the application of the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) to the CHT and set out the tolls for the use of the CHT by different types of vehicles with effect from 1 September 1999. The Revenue Bill 1999 also proposes to repeal Cap. 203 and the Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Passage Tax) Ordinance (Cap. 274) and all subsidiary legislation made under those two Ordinances. These proposed amendments are being studied by the Bills Committee on the Revenue Bill 1999.
6. To supplement the above amendments proposed in the Revenue Bill 1999, this Bill seeks to amend Cap. 368 further to allow the Chief Executive in Council to make regulations specifically for the operation and management of the CHT.
7. This Bill also amends the Road Tunnels (Government) Regulations (Cap. 368 sub. leg.) ("the Regulations") to:
- make the provisions of the Regulations (including those relating to the fee for the removal of vehicles causing obstruction in the tunnels and fee for the issue of permits for the passage of certain vehicles through the tunnels) apply to both the CHT and the Government tunnels in order to achieve consistency in operational matters;
- incorporate into the Regulations traffic signs applicable only to the CHT and provisions specifically for the CHT, including those relating to the conveyance of dangerous goods through the CHT; and
- bring the penalties for offences committed within the tunnel area of the CHT in line with those for similar offences in other Government tunnels.
8. If enacted, this Bill will come into operation on 1 September 1999.
9. According to the Administration, the potential contractors of the CHT have been notified of the proposed amendments during the tender exercise.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
10. The Administration briefed members of the Panel on Transport on the Bill on 23 April 1999. Members of the Panel had no specific objection to the proposed amendments.
11. The proposed amendments in this Bill relate primarily to operational matters. The legal effect of those amendments, insofar as they relate to the CHT, is conditional upon the application of Cap. 368 to the CHT, which is one of the amendments proposed in the Revenue Bill 1999. As such, it is recommended that the resumption of Second Reading debate of this Bill should take place only after the Revenue Bill 1999 has been passed by the Legislative Council.
12. Meanwhile, we are asking the Administration to explain why certain provisions in the Cross-Harbour Tunnel By-laws (Cap. 203 sub. leg.) have not been incorporated into this Bill and why the current level of penalty for certain offences under Cap. 368 is proposed to be amended. Apart from these two matters, the legal and drafting aspects of this Bill are in order. A further report will be made after we have received the Administration's reply.
FUNG Sau-kuen, Connie
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
24 May 1999