LC Paper No. LS 29/98-99
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Legislative Council
on 18 September 1998
Legal Service Division Report on
Hotel Accommodation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1998
Objects of the Bill
- To amend the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance (Cap. 349), the Hotel Proprietors Ordinance (Cap. 158) and the Hotel Accommodation Tax Ordinance (Cap. 348) to clarify the scope of the definitions of hotel�and guesthouse; and
- to amend the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance ( the Ordinance) to streamline the operation of the licensing scheme.
LegCo Brief Reference
2. HAB/CR/8/10/6 Pt. 5 issued by the Home Affairs Bureau dated 2 September 1998.
Date of First Reading
3. 16 September 1998.
4. This Bill was first introduced into the former Legislative Council on 29 May 1996 to address some deficiencies�in the three Ordinances mentioned above. A Bills Committee of the former Legislative Council was formed to scrutinize the Bill. However, due to other legislative priorities, the resumption of Second Reading debate did not take place and the Bill lapsed.
5. One of the main deficiencies�that this Bill seeks to rectify is the scope of the definitions of hotel�and guesthouse . In a Magistracy Appeal case decided in 1996, Judge J M Duffy ruled that hotels which accepted guests with prior reservations were not within the purview of the Ordinance. This created a loophole whereby establishments offering accommodation could claim that they let rooms in response to prior reservations and should not be subject to licensing.
6. To plug this loophole, it is proposed that the definitions of hotel and guesthouse�be amended to include such establishment whose proprietor holds out as offering sleeping accommodation to any person or any person of any particular category, class, group or description; and such person can be a person presenting himself in person or through an agent or a representative, with or without prior booking.
7. On the operational aspects of the licensing scheme under the Ordinance, the Bill seeks to extend the period of hotel and guesthouse licences to a maximum period of 36 months to obviate the need for annual licence renewal (Clauses 6 and 7).Clauses 8 and 9 of the Bill provide that notices can be served by posting them in a conspicuous part of the hotel or the guesthouse without stating the name of the addressee. Persons authorized by the Secretary for Home Affairs may execute remedial work to enter into any premises while a closure order is in force.
8. Clause 11 extends the time limit for prosecution of offences under the Ordinance. A draft Exclusion Order by the Secretary for Home Affairs excluding some premises from the application of the Ordinance is also annexed to the LegCo Brief.
9. According to the Brief, the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners Limited and the Tourist Guest Houses Federation of Hong Kong Limited were consulted. The Hotel Federation raised a few other issues such as the safety standards used in licensing hotels, distinguishing purpose-built hotels and guesthouse; and making the Advisory Group on the Implementation of the Ordinance into a statutory body. The Guesthouse Federation expressed concern about illegal guesthouses.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
10. On 27 July 1998, the Panel on Home Affairs was briefed on the Bill. Members raised some other concerns such as whether service apartments and holiday flats were to be covered by this Bill. Members may refer to the minutes of that meeting for detail.
11. In view of the concerns raised by the hotel industry and some Members, a Bills Committee is recommended to be set up to scrutinize the Bill in detail.
HO Ying-chu, Anita
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
14 September 1998