LC Paper No. LS 99/98-99
Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Legislative Council
on 29 January 1999
Legal Service Division Report on
Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1999
Objects of the Bill
LegCo Brief Reference
- To add a definition of "electricity supply line" and to amend the definition of "supply" in section 2 of the Electricity Ordinance (Cap. 406) ("the Ordinance") so that it would be clear that the latter definition applies to the supply of an electrical product only; and
- to enable the making of subsidiary legislation to regulate activities performed in the vicinity of electricity supply lines owned by electricity suppliers so as to avoid the risk of causing electrical accidents or interruptions to electricity supply.
2. ECON 2/3231/97 issued by the Economic Services Bureau dated 15 January 1999.
Date of First Reading
3. 27 January 1999.Comments
4. The Ordinance has no provisions to protect electricity supply lines from damage arising out of works. Clause 4 of the Bill proposes to amend section 59 of the Ordinance so as to enable the making of the Electricity Supply Lines (Protection) Regulation ("the Regulation") in due course. The draft Regulation (at Annex of the LegCo Brief) is to ensure that activities performed in the vicinity of electricity supply lines owned by electricity suppliers are performed without the risk of causing electrical accidents or interruptions to electricity supply. In the proposed section 59(8), details of the extent of delegated authority to make regulation made under the proposed section 59(1)(ia) have been provided. They include the authority to modify existing appeal mechanism and to specify levels of penalty.
5. Key provisions contained in the draft Regulation provide that the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services may:
- approve competent person to ascertain the position of electricity underground supply lines;
- enter and inspect premises in which works are being carried in the vicinity of an electricity supply line and to issue a remedial notice if there is any contravention of the Regulation; and
- approve and issue codes of practice and such code shall be admissible in evidence in criminal proceedings relating to contravention of the Regulation.
6. Major offence provisions and maximum penalties in the draft Regulation are as follows:
|Failure to take reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of an electrical accident or interruption to the electricity supply.
||Resulting in an electrical accident or interruption to the electricity supply: a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for 12 months [in any other case: a fine at level 4 (currently $25,000) and imprisonment for 6 months] and daily penalty of $10,000 for a continuing offence. |
|Failure to take reasonable steps to ascertain the alignment or other relevant particulars of an electricity supply line.||A fine at level 4 and imprisonment for 6 months.
7. The draft Regulation also modifies appeal provisions in the principal Ordinance in relation to remedial notices issued under the Regulation.
8. In Clause 3 of the Bill, a definition of "electricity supply line" is added and to avoid possible confusion, the existing definition of "supply" is amended to specify that "supply" is in relation to the supply of electrical products only.
9. According to paragraph 19 of the LegCo Brief, the Administration has consulted the power companies and the construction industry. The power companies supported the proposals but the construction industry was of the view that possible imprisonment, in addition to a fine, was too heavy a penalty for the offence of failure to take all reasonable steps to ascertain the alignment of an underground electricity cable or the alignment, distance from the ground and voltage of an overhead electricity line.
Consultation with the LegCo Panel
10. No consultation with any LegCo Panel on the details of the Bill has been carried out.
11. The construction industry has expressed different views on the criminal liability of the draft Regulation. Members may wish to form a Bills Committee to scrutinize the Bill in detail to discuss the policy issues.
HO Ying-chu, Anita
Assistant Legal Adviser
Legislative Council Secretariat
25 January 1999