LC Paper No. LS 185/98-99
Paper for the House Committee MeetingObject(s) of the Bill
of the Legislative Council
on 28 May 1999
Legal Service Division Report on
Roads and Tunnels Legislation
(Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 1999
LegCo Brief Reference
- To improve the efficiency of procedures for prosecution of traffic offences in build, operate and transfer ("BOT") tunnels and Government tunnels; and
- to rectify the existing payment arrangements for management agreements for Government tunnels, which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Public Finance Ordinance (Cap. 2).
2. TRAN 1/12/130 (99) dated 14 May 1999 issued by the Transport Bureau.
Date of First Reading
3. 26 May 1999
4. Existing BOT tunnels are governed by their respective Ordinances enacted at different points of time. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 203) is the earliest BOT tunnel legislation and will be repealed with effect from 1 September 1999 when the franchise expires. The remaining of the four BOT tunnel Ordinances are : Eastern Harbour Crossing Ordinance (Cap. 215), Tate's Cairn Tunnel Ordinance (Cap. 393), Western Harbour Crossing Ordinance (Cap. 436) and Tai Lam Tunnel and Yuen Long Approach Road Ordinance (Cap. 474). Government tunnels and Government toll roads are governed by the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) and the Tsing Ma Control Area Ordinance (Cap. 498).
5. Following a review of the Ordinances for BOT and Government tunnels, the Administration has identified a number of inconsistencies in those Ordinances concerning the prosecution of traffic offences. The Bill seeks to remove those inconsistencies by:
- extending the period, from three months to six months after the date of an alleged offence in the tunnel area, within which a tunnel officer may demand any person to give information relating to the driver suspected of the offence;
- making it an offence in all roads and tunnels legislation in cases where a person makes a false statement or omits a material particular when he is required under the relevant legislation to supply information;
- enabling the admission of certificates of image recording and printing device and certificates of photographic processing as evidence in legal proceedings to assist the BOT tunnel operators in proving toll evasion and speeding in order to achieve consistency with the procedures currently adopted in Government tunnels; and
- extending the procedure of pleading guilty by letter in the magistrates' courts to offences under the Tai Lam Tunnel and Yuen Long Approach Road Bylaw (Cap. 474 sub. leg.) if the fine is below $2,000 to bring it in line with the procedure allowed in other tunnels and toll roads legislation.
6. The Bill also introduces a new provision in the Road Tunnels (Government) Ordinance (Cap. 368) to rectify the existing payment arrangements for management agreement for Government tunnels, which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Public Finance Ordinance (Cap. 2) ("PFO"). The effect of this new provision is that tunnel operators under Cap. 368 will be allowed to retain their management fees from the statutory tolls and fees collected whereas under the PFO, such retention is not allowed as all moneys raised or received for the purposes of the Government will form part of the general revenue. A similar provision has been proposed in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 1998 relating to the management agreements for parking meters and the New Kowloon Bay Vehicle Examination Centre. The Bills Committee on that Bill has considered the provision and supported it. Members may also note that this payment arrangement has already been provided in the Tsing Ma Control Area Ordinance (Cap. 498).
7. If enacted, the provisions relating to pleading guilty by letter and those relating to payment arrangement for Government tunnel operators will come into operation on the day of publication in the Gazette. The remaining provisions of the Bill will come into operation on 1 September 1999.
8. The tunnel companies concerned have been consulted on the proposed amendments and they all agreed to the proposals.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
9. The LegCo Panel on Transport has been briefed on the Bill at its meeting on 23 April 1999. Members of the Transport Panel had no specific objection to the proposed amendments.
10. This Bill does not seek to introduce policy changes. The legal and drafting aspects of the Bill are in order. Subject to Members' views, the Bill is ready for resumption of Second Reading debate.
FUNG Sau-kuen, Connie
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
24 May 1999