PLC Paper No. CB(2)165
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration and cleared
with the Chairman)
Ref : CB2/BC/55/95
Bills Committee on the
Equal Opportunities (Family Responsibility, Sexuality & Age) Bill,
Equal Opportunities (Race) Bill,
Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1996 and
Family Status Discrimination Bill
Minutes of the 13th meeting
held on Thursday, 12 June 1997 at 12:30 pm
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Members Absent :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Member Attending :
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public Officers Attending :
- Mr NG Hon-wah
- Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (Acting)
- Mr John DEAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
- Miss Helen TANG
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
- Miss Charmaine LEE
- Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
- Ms Esther LEUNG
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
- Mr M Y CHENG
- Assistant Director of Education
- Mr David YIP
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
- Mr Vincent FUNG
- Assistant Secretary for Financial Services
Attendance by Invitation :
- Mr Adam MAYES
- Personal Assistant to Hon Christine LOH
- Ms CHEUNG Yuet-fung
- Personal Assistant to Hon LAU Chin-shek
Clerk in Attendance:
- Miss Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2
Staff in Attendance :
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr Colin CHUI
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2
As the Chairman was not available for the meeting due to other commitments, the Deputy Chairman took the chair.
I. Confirmation of minutes of meeting on 15 May 1997
(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2605/96-97)
The minutes of meeting held on 15 May 1997 were confirmed.
II. Committee stage amendments (CSAs) to the Family Status Discrimination Bill
Mr LAU Chin-sheks proposed CSAs to the Bill
(Paper No. CB(2)2655/96-97 (02))
Mr LAU Chin-shek said that the President had ruled his proposed CSAs to be outside the scope of the Bill.
Parallel issues in the Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1996 and Family Status Discrimination Bill
(Paper No. CB(2)2679/96-97 (01) - summary of voting results on the Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1996)
(Paper No. CB(2)2679/96-97 (03) - Miss Christine LOHs proposed CSAs to the Family Status Discrimination Bill)
Members noted the summary of voting results on Miss Christine LOHs Sex and Disability Discrimination (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1996. In view of the voting results and the deadline for notice of CSAs to the Family Status Discrimination Bill on 13 June 1997, Miss Christine LOH had prepared parallel amendments to the Family Status Discrimination Bill set out in her paper tabled at the meeting. She asked the Administration to advise as soon as possible whether it would move these amendments. She would do so if the Administration declined to move them. The Administration agreed to inform her of its decision by noon of 13 June 1997.
(Post-meeting note : As the Administration decided not to move the parallel amendments, Miss LOH would move the CSAs (at Appendix II to LegCo Paper No. CB(3)1210/96-97).)
Technical amendments to the Bill
The Administration pointed out that after discussion with ALA4, it would move some technical amendments to the Bill.
(Post-meeting note : The Administrations CSAs including the technical amendments were circulated to all LegCo Members vide Appendix I to LegCo Paper No. CB(3)1210/96-97.)
III. CSAs to the Equal Opportunities (Family Responsibility, Sexuality and Age) Bill
Parallel issues in Mr LAUs Equal Opportunities (Family Responsibility, Sexuality & Age) Bill and Miss LOHs Bill
(Paper No. CB(2)2679/96-97 (02) - Mr LAUs proposed CSAs to his Bill)
Referring to his proposed CSAs tabled at the meeting, Mr LAU said that he had incorporated into his Bill amendments parallel to the enacted provisions of Miss LOHs Bill. Part II of his Bill on family responsibility discrimination would be withdrawn under these CSAs.
Exemption for the insurance industry
In reply to the Administration, Mr LAU said that he had proposed a CSA to exempt the insurance industry from Part III of his Bill on sexuality discrimination.
IV. Continued examination of the Equal Opportunities (Race) Bill
Mrs Elizabeth WONG briefed members on her proposed CSAs to the Bill set out in her paper (Paper No. CB(2)2679/96-97 (04)) tabled at the meeting. The CSAs included parallel amendments with Miss LOHs Bill. The salient points of discussion on Mrs WONGs Bill as amended by these CSAs were set out in the ensuing paragraphs.
Clause 1 - Short title and commencement
Mrs WONG said that she would revise the commencement date of the Bill to 1 January 1998.
Clause 3 - Interpretation
To address concerns raised at the last meeting, Mrs WONG proposed a CSA to clause 3(1) to redefine "race" in the Bill by deleting "nationality and national origin". The definition as amended now included "colour, descent or ethnic origin".
Clause 8 - Discrimination on the ground of race
In reply to the Administration, Mrs WONG agreed to remove "practice" from the CSA to clause 8(2) to (4) to tie in with the parallel provision in SDO and DDO.
(Post-meeting note : Mrs WONGs CSAs incorporating this revision were circulated to all LegCo Members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(3)1197/96-97.)
Clause 9 - Discrimination against applicants and employees
Clause 23 - Discrimination in the administration of laws and government programmes
The Administration pointed out that one of the twin cardinal principles of the labour importation policy was to ensure that local workers would be given priority in filling job vacancies available in the labour market. It was therefore concerned whether this principle and the measures underpinning it would be regarded as racial discrimination under clauses 9 or 23 of the Bill. Moreover, since imported workers and their local counterparts were offered different terms of employment (e.g. median wage requirement and restrictions on change of jobs for imported workers), it was also concerned that this differential treatment might constitute racial discrimination under the clauses. If so, the Bill should provide exemption for the policy. Mrs WONG shared a members view that with the priority treatment, only local people could apply for the job vacancies. As there were no non-local applicants, racial discrimination against them did not exist. The different terms of employment for local and imported workers arose from their nationalities. As "nationality" had been removed from the definition of "race" in the Bill by her CSA, this differential treatment would not constitute racial discrimination. The Administration said that it would need to seek advice from the Legal Department on whether Mrs WONGs interpretation was correct.
Clause 16 - Education
Representatives of the Administration said that at present aliens were not admitted to public sector schools unless they had obtained the approval of the Director of Immigration in respect of entry or residence in Hong Kong for the purpose of attending these schools. Clause 16 might outlaw the practice of these schools to refuse admission of aliens. Places in public sector schools were for Hong Kong children and children resident with their families as members of the Hong Kong community. Admission of aliens to these schools might create language teaching difficulties and incur additional expenditure at public expense. The Bill should therefore provide exemption for this practice. In fact aliens whose travel documents were endorsed "Student" might attend private schools in Hong Kong. Mrs WONG responded that, as a matter of principle, the Bill prohibited racial discrimination which was also applicable in the area of education. Public sector schools refused admission of aliens on the grounds of their status (e.g. tourists) of entry or residence in the territory. This practice therefore related to immigration policy. In any case, the exemption for school admission schemes provided for under the CSA to clause 40 might exempt this practice.
Clause 40 - Compliance with school admission schemes
To address the Administrations concern raised at the last meeting, Mrs WONG had proposed a CSA to clause 40 to provide exemption for the four existing school admission schemes. The Administration was concerned that the CSA to clause 40 might not be broad enough to include any new admission schemes. It suggested that the CSA be replaced by a general exemption provision for the existing and future admission schemes.
Clause 41A - Immigration law and policy
To address the Administrations concerns, Mrs WONG proposed a CSA to introduce a new clause 41A to provide exemption for immigration law and policy.
In reply to Mrs WONG, the Administration stated that from the financial services aspects, it had no comments on the Bill. The Federation of Insurers raised no objection to the Bill.
V. Legislative timetable
The Deputy Chairman said that a verbal report on the three bills was given at the House Committee meeting on 6 June 1997. The written report of the Bills Committee would be submitted to the House Committee on 13 June 1997. Both Members-in-charge and the Administration had given notice for resumption of Second Reading debates of the Bills at the last sitting commencing on 23 June 1997. The Deputy Chairman reminded the Administration and members that the deadline for notice of CSAs was 13 June 1997.
The meeting ended at 1:30 pm.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
19 August 1997
Last Updated on 16 December 1998