Establishment Subcommittee

Record of Meeting held on 13 December 1995 at 10:55 a.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber


    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    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 James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP

Non-ESC Member

    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon IP Kwok-him


    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP

In attendance for specific items:

Mr Michael STONE, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
Mr C W CHOI Principal Assistant Secretary for the Civil Service
Mr James HUGHES, JP Principal Government Land Agent, Lands Department
Mr Cletus LAU Director of General Grades
Mrs Annette TANG Chief Executive Officer, Civil Service Branch
Mrs Helen YU, JP Director of Buildings
Mr Rafael HUI, JP Secretary for Financial Services
Mrs Pamela TAN, JP Deputy Secretary for Financial Services
Mr Stephen PANG Principal Executive Officer of Financial Services Branch
Mrs Carrie YAU, JP Deputy Secretary for Security
Ms Julina CHAN Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr Raymond LAI, MBE, JP Commissioner of Correctional Services
Mr S Y PANG Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services
Mr K K LEE, JP Deputy Director of Immigration
Mr Ian WINGFIELD, JP Crown Solicitor, Legal Department
Mr Y C LO Assistant Director of Civil Engineering

In attendance:

Mr Alan LAI, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
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)

With the concurrence of the Chairman, the meeting started at 10.55 a.m..


Proposed creation of a permanent post in a new rank of Senior Principal Land Executive (D1) as the de facto head of the Land Executive and Land Inspector grades of the Lands Department offset by the deletion of a post of Principal Land Executive (MPS 45-49) to meet the increasing volume and complexity of its grade management duties

2. Responding to a Member, the Principal Assistant Secretary for the Civil Services advised that the present proposal of upgrading the existing Principal Land Executive/Headquarters (PLE/HQ) post by creating a new rank at D1 level was to reflect the increased volume and complexity in land administration matters and the grade management duties of the Land Executive (LE) and Land Inspector (LI) grades in the Lands Department. The proposal was one of the improvement measures reported to the Panel on Public Service in the previous LegCo session in relation to a complaint lodged by the LE staff association to Members of the Council seeking improvements for the LE grade.

3. A Member questioned the creation of a D1 post on grounds of relativity with other directorate posts in the department. In response, the Principal Government Land Agent (PGLA) explained the difficulties encountered by the PLE/HQ in dealing with his directorate counterparts in the department especially in relation to staff postings and grade management matters.

4. On the salary increase upon upgrading the PLE post to D1, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) advised that the directorate salary structure was based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service. The salary difference of around 10% between the two ranks was considered appropriate having regard to the increase in responsibilities of the proposed directorate post.

5. As regards Members’ comments on the possibility to upgrade the entry qualifications of the LE and LI grades, the Chairman suggested that this should more appropriately be dealt with by the relevant Panel.

6. This item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing reserved her position on the proposal.


Proposed revision of the salary scale of the Supervisor of Typing Services grade from Master Pay Scale Point 17 - 23 to Master Pay Scale Point 17 - 24 to reflect the increased complexity of work and responsibilities of the grade

7. In response to a Member’s question about the previous proposal of abolishing the Supervisor of Typing Services (STS) grade, the Director of General Grades (DGG) advised that, following consultation with the staff side and the affected departments, the proposal had been shelved in order to maintain operational efficiency.

8. A Member expressed concern that the present proposal might set a precedent for other grades, such as the clerical grades, to press for similar salary adjustments. In response, DGG advised that the clerical and the STS grades performed different duties and the proposal should not have any impact on the clerical grades. DGG also confirmed that the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service had been consulted and the proposed salary revision was considered appropriate having regard to the increased complexity of the work of the STS grade.

9. In reply to a Member, DGG advised that the majority of the STSs was already drawing the maximum salary of the current pay scale and would therefore be immediately benefited from the salary revision.

10. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post in a new rank of Deputy Director of Buildings (D3) in the Buildings Department to directly manage the four front-line divisions and to assist the Director in policy and strategy formulation

11. Responding to a Member’s question on whether the number of directorate officers in the Buildings Department was disproportionately high comparing to other works departments, the Director of Buildings (D. B.) advised that she had no information on the other departments. The Buildings Department had 26 directorate officers and some 260 non-directorate professional staff. This was necessary considering the spectrum of professional services provided by her staff in particular their discharging responsibilities for building safety and many of them working to tight statutory deadlines. The expansion of activities of the department in the past two years had overburdened the Director, and a Deputy Director would be required to assist in the management of the four front-line divisions. She pointed out that it was a common practice for department heads ranked at D5 level to be supported by deputies at D3 rank. At the request of the Member, DS/CS agreed to provide information on directorate establishment of the other works departments.


12. In response to a Member’s question, D. B. advised that the post was intended to be a “bi-discipline” post to be filled by an officer from either the Structural Engineer or Building Surveyor grade. The Administration had no intention to fill the post by an Administrative Officer.

13. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of four supernumerary directorate posts from 1 March 1996 to 28 February 1997 and increase in establishment ceiling of the Financial Services Branch to permit the creation of 20 non-directorate posts to proceed with the preparation of subsidiary legislation of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance and other urgent tasks related to the development of the Mandatory Provident Fund System

14. In view of Finance Committee (FC) approval on 24 November 1995 for the engagement of consultants to take up the preparation work of the subsidiary legislation of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Ordinance, a Member questioned the need to have a dedicated team of civil servants for the same tasks. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Financial Services (DS/FS) outlined the proposed structure of the temporary MPF Office, highlighting the different roles of the consultants and the government officials. She stressed that while government officers would work hand-in-hand with the consultants, the former would mainly be responsible for policy issues and strategies of the scheme. The Consultants would, however, be engaged to advise on technical issues such as trustee management, investment guidelines, fund transfers and withdrawals, and the regulatory and monitoring systems. The Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority would be consulted on the investment guidelines and other technical matters.

15. On the timetable for legislative work, the Principal Executive Officer of the Financial Services Branch advised that the Administration aimed at completing the subsidiary legislation for examination by the Legislative Council by the end of 1996. Responding to a further question on how the Administration could meet the target given the short time available, DS/FS advised that the basic features of the MPF Schemes had been worked out and the Attorney General had agreed to allocate the necessary staff resources to follow closely the progress of deliberation by the MPF Office with a view to expediting the drafting of the subsidiary legislation. The time-table, though ambitious, should be achievable provided that there were no major hiccups during the consultative process.

16. In response to a Member’s question, the Secretary for Financial Services (SFS) advised that the Chinese Government had not given any official views on the MPF but the Administration would continue to keep the Chinese Government informed of the details of the proposal. As the proposed MPF would straddle 1997, he considered that there might be a need to consult the Chief Executive (Designate) and other Principal Officials (Designate) for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to be appointed in 1996.

17. Members of the Democratic Party objected to the MPF Schemes for reasons given at the FC meeting on 24 November 1995. As a matter of principle, therefore, the Party would vote against the current staffing proposal.

18. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury proposed to withdraw the proposal in view of Members’ comments. In response, Members of the Democratic Party expressed their dissatisfaction with the Administration’s decision and queried the justifications for withdrawing the proposal. SFS explained that as some Members had indicated their objection to the proposal, the Administration would need to reconsider the proposal in the light of Members’ comments. Some Members requested the Chairman to put the item to vote since the matter had been thoroughly discussed, and that Members would unlikely change their views even if it was re-submitted to this Subcommittee. In reply, the Chairman advised the Subcommittee could not vote on a proposal withdrawn by the Administration.

19. In response to Members’ question on whether the Administration could put the item direct to the FC for consideration without re-submitting the proposal to Establishment Subcommittee (ESC), the Chairman advised that as the ESC Chairman, he did not have the authority to decide for the Administration as to what it should do next in relation to the proposal withdrawn. It would be entirely up to the Administration to decide whether they would like to re-submit the paper to the ESC or put it direct to the FC for consideration. In this connection, he quoted a previous case in which the Public Works Subcommittee had adjourned its meeting due to absence of a quorum, and as a result, the Administration submitted the proposal directly to FC for consideration.

20. The proposal was withdrawn by the Administration.


Proposed retention of four supernumerary posts of one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3) and one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Security Branch, one Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services (GDS(C)2) in the Correctional Services Department and one Assistant Director of Immigration (GDS(C)2) in the Immigration Department until 31 March 1997 to deal with the repatriation of Vietnamese Migrants (VMs) and other related problems of VMs, and the resettlement of the Vietnamese Refugees

21. In response to a Member’s question, the Deputy Secretary for Security (DS for S) advised that the Administration’s primary objective was to speed up the repatriation of the Vietnamese Migrants (VMs). However, as a result of the legislative initiatives in the US Congress engendering fresh hopes of re-settlement, the number of VMs taking part in the Voluntary Repatriation Programme had dropped significantly. Nevertheless, the Administration would keep under close watch the rate of repatriation of VMs, and would negotiate with the government and agencies concerned with a view to speeding up the Orderly Repatriation Programme for early repatriation of all remaining VMs.

22. In view of the decreasing number of VMs in the centres managed by the Correctional Services Department (CSD), a Member asked if there was still a need to retain the post of Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services up to 31 March 1997. In response, the Commissioner of Correctional Services advised that despite the decreasing number of VMs, there had not been a corresponding reduction of work for CSD. VM camp management and repatriation of these remaining VMs were difficult tasks requiring continued directorate leadership. The Administration would keep the need for the post under review.

23. As regards whether or not the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would reimburse Hong Kong Government the staff costs in connection with the management of VMs, DS for S advised that according to the Statement of Understanding between Hong Kong Government and the UNHCR, there was no provision for the UNHCR to reimburse cost of government officers involved in VM matters. She was given to understand that similar arrangements applied in other South East Asian countries.

24. In response to a Member’s concern about the impact on staff morale of prolonged acting appointment of officers occupying supernumerary posts, DS/CS advised that supernumerary posts were appropriate for jobs of a temporary nature, and staff promotion was based on a number of considerations including availability of vacancies of a permanent nature rather than the duration of acting appointments. At the Member’s request, DS/CS would provide information on the length of acting appointments in respect of officers filling supernumerary posts.


25. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed retention of the consultancy position of one Consultant (at Principal Crown Counsel (DL3)) from 21 May 1996 to 20 May 1997 in the Legal Department to provide legal advice and conduct litigation in relation to Vietnamese asylum seekers and illegal immigrants

26. On the possibility of training internal staff to take up the consultancy duties, the Crown Solicitor advised that in view of the complexity and short term nature of the litigation work associated with the VM issue, the Administration had no plan to train up in-house staff to take up the job.

27. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed upgrading the post of Departmental Secretary of Civil Engineering Department from Chief Executive Officer (MPS 45-49) to Principal Executive Officer (D1) to meet the increased responsibilities and complexities of the post

28. On the need to upgrade the post, the Assistant Director of Civil Engineering advised that, in view of the increasing complexity and sensitivity in managing the different grades in the department and the devolution of authority in human resources management to heads of departments, it would be necessary to upgrade the Departmental Secretary post to reflect the increased responsibilities and the experience required of the post. Responding to a further question, DS/CS confirmed that there was no direct relationship between the size of establishment of a department and the ranking of the Departmental Secretary.

29. This item was voted on and endorsed.

30. The Committee was adjourned at 12.30 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
18 January 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998