Establishment Subcommittee

Record of Meeting held on 14 February 1996 at 10:45 a.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber


    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
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP


    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LO Suk-ching

In attendance for specific items:

Mr K K KWOK, JP Deputy Secretary for Works
Mr Billy LAM, JP Director, New Airport Project Co-ordination Office
Mr C K LAU Project Director/Lantau Fixed Crossing, Highways Department
Mr CHAN Wai Sun Government Engineer/Western Harbour Link & Route 3 Country Park Section, Highways Department
Ms Linda LAI Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
Mr John SHERWIN Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
Mr C C CHAN, JP Principal Government Civil Engineer, Civil Engineering Department
Mr R G HARDING Government Land Agent, Lands Department
Mr LAM Chiu-ying Assistant Director, Royal Observatory
Mr KAM Chan-yiu Government Engineer, Transport Department
Mr LIU Yan-bun Assistant Director, Water Supplies Department
Mrs Brenda FUNG Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr Peter LEUNG, JP Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr LEUNG Cham-tim, JP Deputy Director of Electrical & Mechanical Services
Mr Roger LAI Assistant Director of Electrical & Mechanical Services
Mr CHAU Tak-hay, CBE, JP Secretary for Recreation and Culture
Mr Benjamin TANG Deputy Secretary for Recreation and Culture
Mr C I C JACKSON, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (1)
Mr Augustine CHUI, CBE, JP Chairman, Public Service Commission
Mr Kevin MAK, JP Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower
Mr Tony REYNALDS Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (5)
Mr Raymond FAN Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (4)
Mr Jack CHAN Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr Andrew LEUNG, JP Police Administration Officer
Mr M D GREEN, JP Assistant Director of Buildings
Mr D M CONNELL Chief Building Surveyor, Buildings Department
Mr W W DING Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Civil Engineering Department
Mr Eddy CHAN Deputy Director of Urban Services (Administration)

In attendance:

Mr Alan LAI, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mr D W PESCOD Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (2)
Mrs Lilian WONG Principal Executive Officer (LegCo Unit), Finance Branch
Miss Pauline NG Assistant Secretary General
Mr Andy LAU Clerk to the Establishment Subcommittee

Members noted that in connection with the recent re-opening of the membership of the Establishment Subcommittee (ESC), Mr Philip WONG Yu-hong, Mr LO Suk-ching and Mr IP Kwok-him had joined the ESC. They also noted that Mr CHENG Kar-foo had resigned from ESC as from 5 February 1996.


Proposed retention of 30 supernumerary posts in various departments and branches to continue overseeing the implementation of the Airport Core Programme projects and the new airport-related projects until their completion in 1997 and 1998

2. Mr Philip WONG declared an interest as a member of the Airport Authority.

3. Members enquired if the Assistant Director (Committee) (AD/C) could take over the functions of the Assistant Director (Community Relations) (AD/CR) earlier and hence save the need to extend the post of AD/CR until 30 September 1997. In reply, the Director/New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office (D/NAPCO) advised that as the Airport Core Programme (ACP) was now in full swing, AD/C could not, at present, absorb the extra duties displaced by AD/CR as he was already fully loaded with other committee work. Given the need to ensure prompt resolution of problems arising from the implementation stage of the ACP projects which had impact on people’s livelihood, there was a need to retain the post of AD/CR for the time being before it would be taken over by AD/C on 1 October 1997 with the gradual completion of the Government funded ACP projects. He noted Members’ concern on the need to improve the vetting procedures for imported labour and reassured Members that the proposed retention would help the Administration to improve the current work practice in vetting applications from contractors.

4. A Member pointed out that the existing “one-on-one” staffing structure, i.e. a D3 officer (Project Manager) supervising a D2 officer (Assistant Director (Technical)) who, in turn, supervised a D1 officer (Technical Manager), was rather unusual. In response, D/NAPCO advised that each of these officers had his own functional responsibilities. They worked hand in hand with the consultants as an integrated team. The Project Manager and the Consultant Project Manager were responsible for the overall project management of ACP projects. The Assistant Director (Technical) and Deputy Consultant Project Manager respectively assisted in the monitoring of the works programme and cost of the ACP projects and provided technical support in areas such as claims and dispute resolution. They were supported by a number of Chief Co-ordinators and Technical Managers comprising both consultants and government staff, each with specific line of staff functions. The Member remained concerned about an establishment of this scale and urged the Administration not to use this as a precedent in future. The Deputy Secretary for Civil Service (2) undertook to provide Members with further information on whether the Administration had previously adopted a similar organisation structure.


5. In reply to a Member’s question, D/NAPCO advised that it was the intention of the Administration to phase out the supernumerary directorate posts broadly in two groups to tally with the scheduled completion dates of the Government funded ACP projects in June 1997 and the new airport and Airport Railway in mid 1998. On claims and dispute resolution, the Administration had undertaken to take a proactive approach with a view to settling all outstanding claims as soon as possible, which based on past experience, might take four or five years after project completion. On this basis, there would most probably be a continuing need for the Legal Adviser and Deputy Legal Adviser posts. The Administration would review the continued need for each and every post six months prior to the respective expiry dates in the light of work progress and projected workload. He would provide further information to Members on the results of such review when available.


6. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a supernumerary post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) from 1 April 1996 to 30 September 1997 in the Home Affairs Branch to head a new Co-ordination Office for Handover Ceremony

7. Members generally were in support of the holding of the 1997 handover ceremony but pointed out that the ceremony should be conducted in a dignified and cost-effective manner. A Member opined that it was not necessary to hold a series of transition-related cultural, sporting and community events before and after the ceremony and queried the need to have a D2 officer with a team of ten supporting staff.

8. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs (DS/HA) advised that there was a need to set up a Co-ordination Office to provide the necessary support to the Expert Group set up under the Joint Liaison Group to undertake the related planning and organisation of the handover ceremony. The Office would also co-ordinate the efforts of various Government departments and public agencies in organising transition-related events which were of territory-wide interest. In view of the need to take part in the Expert Talks on the handover ceremony and having regard to the importance of the ceremony which would attract world-wide attention, it was considered appropriate to pitch the post at D2 level. Arrangements for the 1997 handover ceremony were being discussed by the Expert Group, whereas the ancillary events would be planned and co-ordinated by the Hong Kong Government. The ancillary events would be carefully planned to avoid extravagance. The post would be required until 30 September 1997 for the necessary completion of the residual work in hand.

9. DS/HA further explained that in drawing up the staffing structure of the Co-ordination Office, reference had been made to the set-up of similar offices servicing other local and overseas major events. The exact staffing requirements of the Co-ordination Office would depend on the final shape of the handover ceremony and the ancillary events.

10. To ensure the handover ceremony and other related ancillary events were conducted in a cost-effective manner, some Members requested the Administration to report periodically to the Legislative Council so that Members’ comments could be adequately reflected in the programme at an early stage. In reply, DS/HA advised that the overall planning of the handover ceremony was only at an initial stage and would be subject to deliberation by the Expert Group. As such, it would be difficult to report regularly on the progress of the programme. After deliberation, the Chairman directed the Clerk to relay the concern of Members to the Chairman of the Home Affairs Panel and request the Panel to follow up the subject matter closely and, if necessary, put it as an ongoing agenda item for the Panel. Non-Panel Members could also be invited to take part in the discussion.


11. Members voted on the proposal by a show of hands. Twelve Members voted for the proposal and two against. The proposal was endorsed.


Proposed retention of two supernumerary post of one Deputy Director of Accounting Services (D3) and one Government Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (D2) for one year with effect from 1 April 1996 to prepare for the establishment of the Trading Fund in the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department

12. Members noted that the Administration had been working on the setting up of a trading fund scheme in Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) for more than six years. They were dissatisfied about the slow progress and asked for a firm commitment from the Administration as to when the Trading Fund would be established.

13. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Works (DS for W) explained that in view of the extensive services covered in the operation of EMSD, preparation for implementation of the trading fund had to be carried out in phases. He pointed out that EMSD had started using the inter-departmental charging system for some of its services since April 1992. Having reviewed the internal procedures and other manpower planning issues, the Administration was now ready to seek LegCo’s agreement to the setting up of the EMS Trading Fund by mid-1996. Subject to Members’ approval, the Administration would seek the Finance Committee's approval for the necessary financial arrangements and establishment changes, including the conversion of the two supernumerary posts in this paper into permanent establishment. Despite the Administration’s assurance, Members still considered that the time taken for finalising the EMS Trading Fund proposal was far too long.

14. Responding to a Member, DS for W advised that one of the major concerns of the staff side was the job security aspect. The Administration was maintaining close contact with the staff side with separate briefings on the future business plan of EMS Trading Fund and its operation. The staff side would be kept informed of the latest development of the Trading Fund proposal with a view to alleviating their worries.

15. On the question of cost-effectiveness, the Deputy Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services advised that with the introduction of inter-departmental charging, the number of staff required for the provision of vehicle maintenance and general electrical and mechanical engineering work had decreased despite a corresponding increase in the amount of workload. DS for W added that in fixing charges, the future EMS Trading Fund would have to ensure competitiveness in the market as client departments would eventually be allowed to choose other service providers.

16. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed re-ranking of the two Deputy Secretary posts at D4 and D3 level and creation of a supernumerary post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C(D2) to be held against a permanent post of Principal Executive Officer (D1) for two years from 18 March 1996 in the Recreation and Culture Branch

17. In response to a Member’s question, the Secretary for Recreation and Culture (SRC) pointed out that despite the advancement of technology in the broadcasting and entertainment industries, there was no need to engage a professional from the trade to assist him in dealing with the related policy matters. He pointed out that the job contents of the D4 Deputy Secretary post were related to the assessment of the impact of technological changes for the purpose of formulating policies rather than technical issues.

18. Responding to SRC’s comment on the need to have an Administrative Officer to enhance the role played by the Administration in co-ordinating, monitoring and liaising with various sports organisations, a Member pointed out that though Administrative Officers might have a better sense in politics, the Administration should not solely rely on them and should instead take a proactive approach to train up officers in other grades to cope with the changing circumstances.

19. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed upgrading the Secretary, Public Service Commission post from Principal Executive Officer (D1) to Senior Principal Executive Officer (D2) to reflect the increased responsibilities and complexities of the job

20. In response to Members’ questions, the Chairman, Public Service Commission (PSC) advised that attendance of PSC members in recruitment and promotion exercises was done on a selective basis with a view to enhancing communication with departments and ensuring consistency in the setting of standards. Notwithstanding PSC members’ attendance in the meetings, submissions put to the PSC would still be subject to critical scrutiny, when recommendations were subsequently sent to the PSC for advice. He pointed out that about one-third of the cases submitted by the Administration received PSC queries. Of these queries, around one-fifth resulted in changes to the original recommendations before they were endorsed by PSC.

21. A Member enquired if delegation to departments associated with the Human Resources Management reform would reduce the workload of PSC. In reply, Chairman, PSC pointed out that since 1990, submissions for the promotion of non-directorate staff had been put to PSC direct instead of going through Civil Service Branch. With the increasing pace of localisation, the implementation of the interim arrangements for transfer of overseas agreement officers to local conditions of service, the implementation of the opening-up arrangements for posts held by officers appointed on agreement terms, cases handled by PSC had been progressively much more complex. As such, the workload of PSC had increased, and this was likely to continue because departments would need more advice and guidance in handling their delegated responsibilities.

22. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) with effect from 1 April 1996 and a supernumerary post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) up to 31 March 1998 in the Education and Manpower Branch to cope with the significant increase in workload

23. Responding to a Member’s question, the Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower advised that with the establishment of the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications (ACTEQ) in mid-1993, the Education and Manpower Branch had embarked on a number of reviews and policy reforms on the area of teacher education and qualifications. In view of the fact that the additional work generated from ACTEQ was on-going in nature and that one of the existing two Principal Assistant Secretaries in the education field was overloaded and had to be relieved of some of her workload, the Administration considered it appropriate to create an additional D2 post not only to oversee and develop the work of the ACTEQ but also to take on some school education policy matters.

24. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Director of Accounting Services (D2) with effect from 1 April 1996 to head a new Finance Department in the Police Headquarters

25. A Member pointed out that in connection with the implementation of the Public Sector Reform, the Administration had sought additional resources to enable branches and departments to take up financial management functions originally performed by the Finance Branch. He enquired whether the original resources could be redeployed to serve the said purpose.

26. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury advised that the resources approved by the Finance Committee and those released by Finance Branch upon the reorganisation of financial management responsibilities under Public Sector Reform had been fully taken up by the branches and departments concerned. Each branch/department would have to justify its own case for any further additional staff and to make its own submission to the Finance Committee if so required.

27. As for the benefits of engaging a professional accountant to co-ordinate the financial and accounting management of the Force, the Police Administration Officer advised that in view of the size of the expenditure of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force which amounted to some $9.6 billion in 1995/96, it would be essential for the new Finance Department including internal audit functions to be led by a person with professional qualifications. The professional accountant would also be responsible for developing a more effective system to monitor the management of resources.

28. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed creation of a supernumerary post of Chief Building Surveyor (D1) for four years from 1 April 1996 in the Buildings Department to oversee the implementation of Government’s accelerated Landslip Preventive Measures Programme

29. Responding to a Member’s question, the Assistant Director of Buildings advised that the programme to complete the stabilisation of all substandard slope features listed in the 1977-78 Catalogue of Slopes by 1999-2000 was very tight. As such, there was an urgent need to create an additional post to enhance the co-ordination of work. During the four year period from 1996-97 to 1999-2000, a total of 1,150 slopes would be studied.

30. This item was voted on and endorsed.


Proposed deletion of a supernumerary post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Urban Services Department as the Regional Services Department has taken over the development of the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse projects

31. This item was voted on and endorsed.

32. The Committee was adjourned at 12.55 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
7 March 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998