Establishment Subcommittee

Minutes of the proceedings of the Meeting held on
5 June 1996 at 10:45 a.m. in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members Present :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Members Absent :

    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon LO Suk-ching

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Francis HO, JP Secretary for Trade and Industry
Mr K K WONG Principal Executive Officer, Trade and Industry Branch
Ms K Y CHANG Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr Robin MCLEISH Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
Miss Annette LEE Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
Mr James KWAN Assistant Director of Education (Departmental Administration)
Mr S H HSU, MBE Senior Assistant Director of Education
Mr Anthony TONG Assistant Director of Education (Allocation & Support)

Mr Patrick PANG

Principal Assistant Secretary for the Civil Service
Mr Trevor KEEN Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Mr R D POPE, JP Director of Lands
Mr Willie WONG Senior Principal Land Executive, Lands Department
Mr K S NG Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
Mr R A F SIEGEL, JP Director of Civil Aviation
Mr Albert LAM Deputy Director of Civil Aviation
Mr Peter BIRKETT, MBE Assistant Director of Civil Aviation
Mrs Maureen CHAN Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare
Dr Margaret CHAN, JP Director of Health
Dr S T SAW, JP Deputy Director of Health
Mr Andrew WELLS Deputy Secretary for Housing
Mr Frank LOONG Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing
Mr Daniel FUNG, QC, JP Solicitor General
Mr Stephen WONG Principal Crown Counsel, Legal Department
Mrs Clara FUNG Chambers Manager, Legal Department
Ms Maria KWAN Deputy Secretary for Economic Services
Dr Henry TOWNSEND Chief Executive Officer, Airport Authority
Mrs Clarie LO Deputy Director of Housing
Mr Edward LAW Assistant Director of Housing

In Attendance :

Mr Kevin HO, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Mike STONE, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
Mrs Lilian WONG Principal Executive Officer (LegCo Unit), Finance Branch
Miss Pauline NG Assistant Secretary General
Mrs Constance LI Clerk to the Establishment Subcommittee
Mr Andy LAU Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)


Proposed -

  1. creation of three permanent posts of Administrative Officer Staff Grade A(D6) offset by the deletion of two posts of Secretary, Government Secretariat(D8) and one post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1(D4) in the Overseas Offices of the Trade and Industry Branch; and
  2. extension of the approved flexible ranking system to D6 Headds of Overseas Economic and Trade Offices, subject to the conditions set out in paragraph 20.

The Administration advised that, having regard to members’ comments, a modified proposal providing for a defined flexi-ranking mechanism was now put forward for members’ consideration; the revised conditions were specified in the Supplementary Note to EC (96-97)10. In the modified proposal, the Administration undertook not to post substantive D8 officers to fill the D6 posts of the three overseas offices in question (i.e. London, USA, and Tokyo).

2. On a member’s suggestion that the Administration could consider the option of open recruitment in view of the present difficulties in finding suitable senior officers to fill the overseas posts, the Secretary for Trade and Industry advised that while open recruitment remained an option, the number of suitable candidates available would be rather limited given the special requirements of these overseas posts.

3. The revised proposal as set out in the Supplementary Note to EC(96-97)10 was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed upgrading the post of Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs(1) from Administrative Officer Staff Grade B(D3) to Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1(D4) and creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C(D2) in the Home Affairs Branch to cope with the increasing workload and complexity of its responsibilities

4. Several members questioned the need to strengthen the directorate establishment of the Home Affairs Branch (HAB), since some of its present functions would be taken up by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Privacy Commissioner’s Office (PCO) upon their commissioning later this year. In response, the Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (DS/HA) advised that the volume and complexity of the work of the Branch had increased considerably since its re-organisation in 1994, especially those under the programme areas of DS/HA(1) in relation to issues on discrimination and human rights and the application of the related United Nation treaties in Hong Kong beyond 1997. While the preparatory work for the establishment of the EOC and PCO had largely been completed, HAB, as the policy branch overseeing the operation of these commissions, would still have to deal with any policy and legislative issues arising. In view of the sensitivity and wide implications of the human rights issues, the Administration considered that the present DS/HA(1) post dealing with these subjects should be upgraded from D3 to D4 to adequately reflect the level of responsibilities required of the post. Some members expressed serious doubt on the extent of involvement of DS/HA(1) in these issues as EOC and PCO would each be supported by an independent secretariat. They were particular unhappy with the minimal preparatory work done by the HAB in this connection. At the request of members, the Administration agreed to provide further information on the preparatory work undertaken by HAB prior to the commissioning of EOC and PCO, before the proposal was submitted to the Finance Committee for consideration.


5. On the ranking criteria for Deputy Secretary posts in policy branches, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) advised that the ranking depended on the level of complexity and political sensitivity of the subjects to be dealt with by the post. While no scientific ranking formula was devised for the purpose, a Policy Secretary could not have more than one D4 officer as his deputy. In the case of two Deputy Secretary posts in a policy branch, the senior post would take up the more important and complex issues including resource management, and deputise for the Secretary in his absence.

6. As regards the proposed creation of the Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (AOSGC) post, DS/HA advised that the post would be responsible for the follow up work on the three consultative studies on discrimination on grounds of family status, sexual orientation and race, including any necessary legislation and related work requiring policy input. On the possibility of re-deploying the existing Principal Assistant Secretary (6) (PAS(6)) post to take up the additional work instead of creating a new post, DS/HA advised that PAS(6) was already fully committed to the coordination work in the organisation of transition-related activities. In this respect, DS/HA undertook to provide information on the work undertaken by PAS(6) so far.


7. Noting that the Administration proposed to review the AOSGC post in two years, a member suggested that it might be more appropriate to create a supernumerary AOSGC post instead of a permanent post. In reply, DS/HA advised that work in relation to discrimination would be an ongoing commitment, but the Administration would need to assess the longer- term staffing requirements in this new area of work after two years.

8. After discussion, some members remained unconvinced of the need for the proposed posts in view of the establishment of EOC and PRO. The item was put to vote: ten members voted for the proposal and seven against.


Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee Hon Margaret NG
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien

(10 members)


Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung Hon SZETO Wah
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong Hon Micheal HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming

(7 members)

9. The item was endorsed. Some members requested that this item be voted separately when submitted to the Finance Committee.


Proposed deletion of five permanent posts of one Assistant Director of Education(D2) and four Principal Education Officer(D1) with effect from 1 July 1996 after the completion of the secondment of the incumbents to the Hong Kong Institute of Education

10. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed redeployment of a permanent post of Principal Education Officer(D1) from the Schools Division to the Allocation and Support Division of Education Department

11. Responding to a member, the Assistant Director of Education (AD of E) advised that planning of school places for children of new immigrants was a complex task due to difficulties in ascertaining their number, age profile and geographical distribution. It was therefore necessary to have a dedicated team to coordinate information from different departments to ensure that there was no mismatch of supply and demand in the provision of school places in different districts. Recent information indicated that the majority of new immigrants initially resided in some older districts, but there might be fluctuations in numbers between years. Where necessary, allocation of school places across school zones would be arranged for immigrant children in the case of temporary short supply of places.

12. On the wider issue of integration of immigrants into the community, the Principal Assistant Secretary of Education and Manpower advised that a committee chaired by the Director of Home Affairs presently coodinated the provision of services rendered to new immigrants by different government departments.

13. On the monitoring of the operation of some 400 overseas tertiary institutions in Hong Kong, AD of E advised that the proposed post would also take up the new responsibilities following the enactment of the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Bill.

14. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed revision of the salary scale of the Land Inspector grade with effect from 1 July 1996 and the resultant increase of the permanent establishment ceilings of Lands Department and Works Branch

15. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Operations Officer(D1) in the Airworthiness Office of Civil Aviation Department with effect from 1 July 1996 to take on work currently carried out by an officer seconded from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority

16. Responding to members’ questions, the Assistant Director of Civil Aviation (AD/CA) advised that upon the creation of the Chief Operations Officer (COO) post, an internal promotion exercise would be conducted to fill the vacancy. The incumbent would replace the existing surveyor-in-charge (SIC) seconded from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UKCAA) as head of the Airworthiness Office. As regards the need to retain the service of UKCAA staff until 1999, AD/CA advised that their expertise was still required to train up new recruits to cope with the increasing fleet of the Hong Kong airlines. The UKCAA staff would be phased out progressively, and the SIC and his deputy would leave in mid-1997. Depending on the progress in recruiting sufficient local staff, there was flexibility for early termination of the secondment arrangement.

17. As regards the costs for retaining the service of the UKCAA staff, AD/CA advised that an annual fee was payable by the Hong Kong Government for the service rendered by UKCAA. He agreed to provide further information on the cost comparison for hiring the services of UKCAA and local staff.


18. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Deputy Director of Health(D3) in the Department of Health to meet the increasing workload and responsibilities

19. On the staffing requirements of new services to be provided by the Department of Health, the Director of Health (D of H) advised that she did not envisage a significant increase in manpower as limited number of staff would be required by each new service unit. Should the department require an increase over the approved establishment ceiling, it would have to be approved by the Finance Committee on the recommendation of the Establishment Sub-committee. On the need for a Personal Secretary post to support the proposed Deputy Director (DD) post, D of H advised that she would review the feasibility of re-deploying existing secretarial staff before creating the Personal Secretary post.

20. In reply to members, D of H advised that proposed delineation of responsibilities between the two Deputy Directors had taken into consideration the volume of work and the interface between service programmes. Given the wide spectrum of responsibilities of the department, her two deputies would need to attend to some other services outside their main streams. As regards the ranking of the proposed post, DS/CS advised that, in accordance with rules laid down by the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Services, department heads ranked at D6 would only be supported by deputies at D3 level.

21. On the qualification required of the proposed post, D of H advised that given the nature of its duties, a medical professional would be more suitable than a generalist. With the creation of the DD post, services in relation to primary health (including those for the elderly and women) and food control functions would be strengthened.

22. In response to a member’s question on the possibility to ‘hive off’ the Boards and Committee section, D of H advised that while it was the ultimate aim of the Government that these boards and committees should operate independently, the department would still need to service the Medical Council and other committees meanwhile.

23. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Engineer(D1) in the Housing Branch to deal with problems relating to the provision of housing sites and housing production

24. Replying to members, the Deputy Secretary for Housing (DS for H) advised that the Housing Branch (HB) had been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring timely delivery of the government’s housing production targets. Although HB had no direct control over the delivery agents and the Task Force departments responsible for housing production, the Project Management Division (PMD) of HB coordinated requirements of the various government departments and provided technical support to the Housing Project Action Team in its deliberations on complex cases. In view of its increasing coordinating role to resolve problems affecting the timely provision of housing sites and subsequent flat production, the PMD of the HB would need to be strengthened with the creation of a Chief Engineer (D1) post to assist the Principal Assistant Secretary to resolve these problems effectively and efficiently.

25. On the filling of the post, DS for H advised that this would be a multi-discipline post to be filled by an officer with the necessary technical expertise from amongst the Architect or Engineer grades.

26. Responding to a member, DS for H briefed members on the functions and operation of the centralised information system on land supply and housing production. The system had already been completed and put to effective use.

27. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed changes in the directorate establishment of the Legal Department to cope effectively with the increasing workload and responsibilities

28. In view of the time constraint and the complexity of the proposal, members proposed and the Administration agreed to defer consideration of EC (96-97) 22 to the next meeting on 14 June 1996.


Proposed retention of a supernumerary post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1(D4) for the period up to 30 June 1998 under Head 46 for the continued secondment of a suitable officer to the Airport Authority

29. In response to a member’s question, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Airport Authority (AA) advised that AA had considered the option of appointing its own Director of Corporate Development. In view of the run-up to the opening of the new airport which would require continuity of expertise, and the fact that the skills required of the post was essentially administrative and managerial involving extensive liaison with Government, it would be more appropriate to extend the secondment of a government directorate officer from the Administrative Officer grade up to June 1998. With the opening of the new airport, the post would eventually be filled by in-house staff. He confirmed that the salary of the seconded officer was comparable to other directorate posts in AA.

30. The item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Principal Training Officer(D1) in the Housing Department to cope with the increasing complexity and volume of work

31. Members generally welcomed the department’s initiative to strengthen customer service training in order to improve the delivery of service, but a member questioned the need to spend $4 million to commission a study in this respect.

32. In response, the Deputy Director of Housing (DD/H) advised that in view of the large, complicated establishment of the department, the study comprised of a full scale employee survey and a customer survey including residents and the public media. The department was now formulating the training strategy on the basis of study findings, and to implement the training and development programmes for staff. At the request of members, DD/H undertook to provide further information on the study findings.


33. On the management action against non-performers, DD/H advised that the department had recently completed a review on the present mechanism in dealing with non-performers, and would encourage more effective human resource management practices in addition to discipline and penalty for sub-standard performance.

34. The item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU had reservation on the proposal.

35. The Committee was adjourned at 1:15 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
27 June 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998