LC Paper No. CB(2) 422/98-99 (01)
Information Note for the
LegCo Panel on Public Service meeting on 19 October 1998
Ambit of the Panel on Public Service
At the Panel on Public Service meeting on 21 September 1998, the Secretariat was asked to ascertain whether the ambit of the Panel on Public Service included the monitoring of conditions of service matters in statutory public bodies such as the Airport Authority (AA).BACKGROUND
2. The terms of reference of the existing Panel on Public Service, which are identical to the terms of reference of the Panel on Public Service endorsed by the House Committee of the former LegCo in October 1994, are as follows -
"To monitor and examine Government policies and issues of public concern on matters relating to the civil service and Government-funded public bodies, and other public service matters.
To provide a forum for the exchange and dissemination of views on related policy matters.
To receive briefings and to formulate views on any major legislative or financial proposals in the relevant policy areas prior to their formal introduction to the Council or Finance Committee.
To examine and to report on any major issues of wide public concern in the relevant policy areas as referred by the Council or House Committee or as raised by the Panel itself."
3. The Panel on Public Service's predecessor was the Panel on Civil Service of the former OMELCO. At the In-house meeting of Members of the former LegCo on 4 November 1988, members agreed that the terms of reference of the Panel on Civil Service should be enlarged to cover the subvented sector and that the Panel be re-named as "Panel on Public Service".PRESENT POSITIONIssues considered by the Panel on Public Service
4. Apart from handling civil service matters which formed the major part of its work, the Panel on Public Service had also dealt with conditions of service matters in subvented organisations on three occasions since the revision of its terms of reference in October 1994. At the meetings on 26 February 1996 and 26 January 1998, the Panel discussed fringe benefits of staff in subvented organisations; and at the meeting on 27 October 1997, the Panel discussed the provision of housing benefits to native English-speaking teachers appointed for subsidised secondary schools.
5. The Panel on Public Service had never dealt with conditions of service matters in statutory public bodies such as the AA. Hitherto, conditions of service matters involving the AA have been dealt with by the Panel on Economic Services. An example of this was the issue concerning the integration arrangements for staff in the Airport Management Division of the Civil Aviation Department into the AA, which was discussed by the Panel on Economic Services in December 1995.
6. Members may also wish to note that at the Council meeting held on 27 November 1996, a Member asked a question concerning the remuneration of the Chairman of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC). The question was answered by the Secretary for Transport.
Definition of "Public Service" and "Government-funded public body"
7. According to the Legal Service Division, there is no general statutory definition of "public service" and "Government-funded public body", although there is a statutory definition of "public body" in the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (please see the definition in Appendix I
). In the Pensions Ordinance (Cap. 89) and the Pension Benefits Ordinance (Cap. 99), "public service" is elaborately defined for specific pension purposes (please see the definition in Appendix II
). Certain Government-funded public bodies or publicly-funded organisations are declared as public service for the purpose of suspension of pensions under the two Ordinances. These organisations are listed at Appendix III
8. In his Report on the results of value for money audits completed between October 1996 and February 1997 (Report No. 28 issued in February 1997), the Director of Audit has commented that the Government should review certain public corporations such as the AA, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) and the KCRC to determine whether these organisations should be regarded as publicly-funded and be subject to the rules for the prevention of double housing benefits and the suspension of pensions. The Administration's response was that "insofar as the status of the MTRC, the KCRC and the AA is concerned, these organisations are statutory bodies set up to operate on prudent commercial principles. They and their staff are outside the civil service system. Therefore, the policies on the prevention of double housing benefits and the suspension of pensions as applied to the public service are not applicable".
Legislative Council Secretariat
14 October 1998
The organisations/institutions listed below have been determined as public service for the purpose of suspension of pension under Pensions Ordinance Cap. 89 and Pension Benefits Ordinance Cap. 99 -