LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 2121/95-96
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/29/95/2

Bills Committee on Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1996

Minutes of the Meeting
held on Thursday, 27 June 1996 at 4:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

Members absent :

    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon NGAN Kam Chuen

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Eric Johnson
Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
Mr John CHAN
Assistant Director, Electrical & Mechanical Services Department
Mr Eric UY
Chief Engineer, Electrical & Mechanical Services Department

Staff in Attendance :

Ms Estella CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4
Ms Kitty CHENG
Assistant Legal Adviser 2
Miss Anita SIT
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)6

Election of Chairman

Mrs Selina CHOW was elected chairman of the Bills Committee.

Briefing by the Administration

2. Mr Eric Johnson briefed members on the background and the objectives of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1996 (the Bill) as set out in the relevant Legislative Council Brief.

3. In response to members’ enquiries, Mr John CHAN and Mr Eric UY made the following clarifications:

  1. Electrical products imported into Hong Kong for re-export to other countries would be exempted from the safety requirements prescribed in the proposed Electrical Products (Safety) Regulation (the proposed Regulation). The exemption was provided under section 3(2) of Part I of the proposed Regulation.
  2. All electrical products would be required to comply with the essential safety requirements contained in Schedule 1 of the proposed Regulation, while the six types of products prescribed in Schedule 2 would be required to comply with the respective specific safety requirements in addition to the essential safety requirements.
  3. With the enactment of the proposed Regulation, it would be necessary for suppliers to obtain either a certificate of safety compliance issued by a recognized certification body or a declaration of conformity issued by a recognized manufacturer in respect of any product supplied. However, in the case of the six types of products prescribed in Schedule 2, only certificates of safety compliance issued by recognized certification bodies would be accepted.
  4. Manufacturers and certification bodies might apply to the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services (DEMS) for registration as recognised manufacturers and recognised certification bodies respectively for the purpose of issuing declarations of conformity and certificates of compliance. It would be a one-off registration and the registration fee would be $5,400.
  5. At present, most manufacturers and suppliers would have obtained certificates of safety compliance for their electrical products as these certificates were required by the authorities of the major markets in the world. Therefore, local importers or suppliers of electrical products should not have much difficulty in obtaining these certificates from manufacturers or their suppliers. For retailers, it would be sufficient for them to maintain a photocopy of the certificate in respect of each electrical product for sale in their shops.

4. As regards the comparability of the safety standards prescribed in the proposed Regulation, Mr CHAN advised that the safety requirements in the Regulation were drawn up in accordance with the standards of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the British standards. However, as the safety standards adopted in USA, Australia and Japan were also in conformity with the IEC and British standards, any electrical product in compliance with the standards of USA, Australia and Japan would also be in compliance with the safety requirements in the proposed Regulation.

4. In response to members’ enquiry on how far the trade and consumers would be informed of which national/international standards met the safety requirements in the Regulation, Mr CHAN advised that the Administration did not intend to set out the recognized national/international standards in the principal Ordinance nor in the subsidiary legislation. However, the technical specifications of the essential and specific safety requirements would be set out in the Regulation. He also advised that it was not a common practice in other jurisdictions to list the recognized national/international standards in the legislation. It was also considered not practical to do so as it would be necessary to initiate the legislative process if any addition or change to the list of standards was to be made, bearing in mind that additions and changes might be frequent. Furthermore, it might give a false impression to the trade and consumers that any national standard not included in the list would not meet the statutory requirements which however might not be the case. However, to make it easier for suppliers and manufacturers to comply with the safety requirements, DEMS would publish a set of guidance notes to set out the national/international standards that were considered to be in conformity with the prescribed safety requirements in the proposed Regulation.

6. Members considered that as guidance notes were not statutory, it was undesirable for the recognised national/international standards to be laid down only in the form of guidance notes in view of the uncertainties entailed and the lack of a proper mechanism for public consultation in the case of changes. Members suggested that a list of recognized national/international standards be included in the subsidiary legislation of the Ordinance in the form of a schedule or another appropriate format. Members also appreciated that in so doing, there should be a degree of flexibility built into the legislation to empower DEMS to decide if a product was in compliance with the statutory safety requirements in the case that the product was in compliance with a national standard that was not included in the list of recognised national/international standards. The Administration agreed to consider members’ suggestion.


7. A member commented that the requirement of declarations of conformity would not provide adequate protection for consumers as there might be unscrupulous manufacturers making false declarations. He suggested that the safety of all electrical product should be tested by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department if they were not yet tested by recognized certification bodies before they were released to the market. Mr CHAN responded that such would not be practicable given the large number of electrical products in the market and the limited manpower available in the Department.

8. The Bill sought to propose that use of an electrical product which failed to meet the prescribed safety requirements would not be an offence unless use of the product was prohibited by DEMS (paragraph 9 of the LegCo Brief). Members expressed concern that such a provision might be too onerous on the consumers. In response, Mr CHAN and Mr UY explained that DEMS would not normally prohibit the use of those electrical products that failed to meet the statutory safety requirements. For example, the use of two-pin plugs was not prohibited at present, though the supply of them was prohibited. DEMS would prohibit the use of certain electrical products only when those products had already been released to the local market and the use of them would pose great danger to the user and/or to other people.

9. The Chairman said that as the Administration’s consultation was conducted before the Bill was gazetted, it would be desirable to solicit the views of concerned bodies on the Bill again. Members agreed that the Clerk to the Bills Committee would write to all the bodies previously consulted by the Administration to seek their views on the Bill. The Bills Committee would meet some of these bodies at the next meeting to be held in September 1996.

(Post meeting note: Letters were sent on 15 and 16 July 1996 to over 100 organizations in accordance with the consultation list provided by the Administration to invite further comments on the gazetted Bill. A press release to the same effect was issued on 17 July 1996. The deadline for submission was set as 24 August 1996.)

10. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 5:30 pm.

LegCo Secretariat
25 September 1996

Last Updated on 10 December 1998