LegCo Paper No. HB 471/95-96
Ref : HB/H/5

Legislative Council House Committee
(1995/96 Session)

Minutes of 13th meeting held in the LegCo Chamber
of the Legislative Council Building
on Friday, 12 January 1996 at 4:50 p.m.

Present :

    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Absent :

    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing

In attendance :

    ASG2 (Clerk to the House Committee)















(1) Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting held on 5.1.96

(LegCo Paper No. HB 430/95-96)

The minutes were confirmed.

(2) Matters arising

Pilotage (Dues) (Amendment) Order 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 62/95-96)

The Legal Adviser referred Members to the paper which provided further information on the Order. He advised that the Order was not related to increase in Government charges and that the industry had agreed to the increase. Members agreed to support the subsidiary legislation.

(3) Legal Adviser’s report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 10.1.96

(LegCo Paper No. LS 57/95-96)

Referring Members to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that items 9-14 and 16 were related to fee increases. Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested and Members agreed to set up a Subcommittee to study these items. The following Members agreed to join the Subcommittee : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Dr HUANG Chen-ya, Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mr IP Kwok-him.

Members agreed to support the remaining items of subsidiary legislation.

(4) Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees

(LegCo Paper No. HB 438/95-96)

Members noted the position report and that, including the Subcommittee formed earlier under item (3) above, there were 16 Bills Committees/Subcommittees. The Bills Committee formed in the previous week and any Bills Committees to be formed under item (5) below would be put on the waiting list.

The Chairman informed Members that the Chief Secretary had commented that the work of the existing Bills Committees did not appear to be moving very fast. Whilst he appreciated that the study of

bills by the Bills Committees was affected by various factors, he appealed to the chairmen of Bills Committees to conduct their study more quickly as more bills would be introduced into LegCo. He would also ask the Administration to co-operate fully.

(5) Legal Adviser’s report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order No. 42(3A)

(a) Law Amendment and Reform (Consolidation) (Amendment) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 55/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that the Bill was to implement a recommendation of the Law Reform Commission to relax the forfeiture rule under which a person who unlawfully killed another was precluded from being a beneficiary of the deceased’s estate or interests as a result of the deceased’s death. The UK had enacted similar legislation which empowered the court to modify the effect of the forfeiture rule in justified cases. However, the discretion would not apply to cases of murder. He recommended Members to study the Bill in more detail.

In response to Mrs Miriam LAU and Miss Margaret NG, the Legal Adviser agreed to provide more information including application of similar rules in other countries and whether such application were relevant to the situation in Hong Kong.

Members agreed to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following Members agreed to join : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee and Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee.

(b) Road Traffic (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 56/95-96)

(c) Eastern Harbour Crossing Road Tunnel (Passage Tax) Bill

(LegCo Paper No. LS 59/95-96)

(d) Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No. 4) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 61/95-96)

Introduced the three papers, the Legal Adviser said that the three bills were related to the same policy objective of relieving traffic congestion in Hong Kong by means of fiscal measures.

Mrs Miriam LAU said that the Bills raised policy issues with wide public implications. She suggested that a Bills Committee be formed to study the Bills. The Legal Adviser recommended and Members agreed that the three Bills should be taken up by the same Bills Committee. The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung, Mr Zachary WONG Wai-yin, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok and Mr SIN Chung-kai.

(e) Immigration (Amendment) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. LS 63/95-96)

Members noted that the Bill had been introduced by Mr Michael HO Mun-ka.

As only Dr LAW Cheung-kwok indicated his wish to join the Bills Committee if one was formed to study the Bill, no Bills Committee was formed. The Second Reading debate on the Bill could therefore be resumed on notification by the Member-in-charge.

(f) Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bill

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (Merger of Subsidiaries) Bill

(LegCo Paper No. LS 60/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that the Bills introduced by Dr David K P LI were to make provisions for the transfer of business from the two banks and for the transfer of business of their subsidiaries. While the drafting aspect of the English text of the Bills was in order, more time would be needed to scrutinize the Chinese text. A further report would be submitted to Members.

In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s concern on whether the Bills provided full protection for all existing account holders and others with contractual arrangements with the banks, the Legal Adviser advised that, in Legal Service Division’s view, the Bills were satisfactory in this respect, but he would follow up any detailed points of concern with Mr ARCULLI. Members noted that according to Dr David LI, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority supported the Bills.

Mr ARCULLI suggested and Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bills, pending the further report from the Legal Service Division.

(6) Business for the LegCo sitting on 24.1.96

(a) Questions

(LegCo Paper No. CB 352/95-96)

20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

(b) Statement

No statement had yet been notified.

(c) Government Motions

(i) Four resolutions under section 9 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Cap. 221) - to be moved by the Chief Secretary

(LegCo Paper No. LS 64/95-96)

Referring Members to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the four sets of amending rules introduced similar procedural provisions to enable Chinese to be used in addition to English for the purposes of various criminal appeals under the Ordinance. The drafting aspect of the resolutions was in order.

Members agreed to support the resolutions.

(ii) Two resolutions under section 9B of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Cap. 221) and section 22A of the Coroners Ordinance (Cap. 14) - to be moved by the Attorney General

(LegCo Paper No. LS 58/95-96)

The Legal Adviser advised Members that the resolutions dealt with witnesses’ allowances and that the proposed rates were in line with previous discussions of the Finance Committee. The drafting aspect of the resolutions was in order.

Members agreed to support the resolutions.

(d) Motion debate on "Visa-free entry to UK" - to be moved by
Mr Howard YOUNG

(e) Motion debate on "Freezing of government, public utility corporations’ fees and charges, and public housing rentals" - to be moved by Mr SIN Chung-kai

The Chairman reminded Members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the motions would be 17.1.96.

(7) Advance information on motion debates for the LegCo sitting on 31.1.96

(a) Motion debate on "Policy on Chinese immigrants"

Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr LAW Chi-kwong.

(b) Motion debate on "Shadow government"

Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Miss Emily LAU.

The Chairman advised Members that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and of amendments, if any, were 16.1.96 and 24.1.96 respectively.

(8) Reports by Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees

Report by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters - Arrangement for motion debates

(LegCo Paper No. HB 440/95-96)

The Secretary General drew Members’ attention to line 2 of paragraph 2 of the Chinese version of the paper. The words " " should be inserted after " ".

The Chairman introduced the paper and sought Members’ view on the proposed arrangement for motion debates.

Dr YEUNG Sum said that Members of the Democratic Party were in support of the proposal as it provided flexibility for Members to debate topical issues.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that Members of the Liberal Party also supported the proposal. However, he was concerned about the situation in which a Member who had secured a debating slot could seize the subject of a motion proposed by another Member who had yet to be allocated a slot.

Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong suggested that there should be a consensus among Members that the situation described by Mr ARCULLI should not be allowed to happen. He felt that, while the new system should provide flexibility for Members to debate topical issues, it should also be a fair one to all Members, especially those who did not belong to any groupings.

Miss Emily LAU pointed out that the spirit of the proposal was to facilitate debates on topical subjects. The situation mentioned by Mr ARCULLI was acceptable so long as the debating slots were not transferrable.

Mr CHAN Kam-lam was in support of the proposal. However, he was concerned about the number of amendments proposed to a motion and asked whether this had been addressed by the Subcommittee in the course of its discussion on this subject.

The Chairman said that Members had the right to move amendments to a motion. It was the prerogative of the President to decide whether an amendment was related to the motion to which the amendment was moved and the order in which the amendments should be moved.

After further discussion, Mr Ronald ARCULLI made a suggestion to modify Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong’s proposal viz. a Member who had secured a slot should not propose a debate on a subject which had already been submitted by another Member except with the latter’s consent.

The majority of the Members present decided by voting to support Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong’s proposal as amended by Mr Ronald ARCULLI. The paper was endorsed.

(9) Any Other Business

(a) Criteria for calling on Members to ask supplementaries

The Chairman advised Members that the President had advised the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters of the criteria adopted for calling on Members to ask supplementary questions,

so as to contain the duration of question time to just about one hour. The President would give priority to those Members who had asked the least number of supplementaries and Members whose interests were related to the subject raised in the main question.

In response to Mr SZETO Wah, Deputy Secretary General advised that an updated list of the number of supplementaries each Member had asked since the beginning of a session was circulated to Members for information on a regular basis.

(b) Members’ response to the meeting with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 8.1.96

(c) Report on Hong Kong under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Referring Members to the transcript of the meeting with the Foreign Secretary and a copy of a letter from Mr LAW Chi-kwong on the issue of Vietnamese boat people (VBP) tabled at the meeting, the Chairman asked whether, and if so, what follow-up action should be taken.

(Post-meeting note : The transcript of the meeting was subsequently issued to Members who were not present at the meeting. Mr LAW’s letter is attached at Appendix.)

Mr LAW Chi-kwong said that the Foreign Secretary had advised Members at the meeting that the VBP was a Hong Kong problem. Although the Foreign Secretary had softened his position the following day, he felt that LegCo should write to the UK Prime Minister to seek clarification on the UK Government’s position on and responsibility towards the VBP problem. The three specific points he proposed to raise were contained in his letter.

The Chairman referred Members to p. 28 of the transcript of the meeting in which Mr Allen LEE pointed out to the Foreign Secretary that the decision of allowing VBP to enter Hong Kong and declaring Hong Kong as the first port of asylum was made under the direction of the UK Government in 1979. Members agreed that clarifications should be sought from the UK Government on this aspect. Mr CHIM Pui-chung said that the Governor should also be requested to clarify HK Government’s understanding of the issue.

Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee informed Members that the
13-Member delegation of the LegCo European Parliamentary Friendship Group would be visiting London on 26 and 27.2.96. The delegation could request a meeting with the UK Prime Minister to discuss various issues of concern.

Miss Emily LAU suggested that clarifications should be sought from the UK Government on the Foreign Secretary’s replies concerning British citizenship and the PWC’s recommendation to reinstate provisions in the six ordinances which had been repealed/amended in the light of the Bill of Rights. She considered that some of his replies were factually incorrect.

Miss Christine LOH said that she had written to the Foreign Secretary concerning two issues : British citizenship for the ethnic minorities and breach of the Joint Declaration. As the Foreign Secretary had promised at the meeting that he would consider whether the UK Government would take the Chinese Government to the World Court for breaching the Joint Declaration by appointing a provisional legislature in 1997, she felt that this should be followed up.

At this juncture, the Chairman drew Members’ attention to a reply from the Governor under agenda item 9(c). Members agreed that the question of post-1997 reporting arrangements and the proposal for UK to move a resolution on the subject in UN should also be taken up with the UK Government.

After some further discussion, Members agreed to Mr SZETO Wah’s suggestion that three letters should be issued in the name of the House Committee to :

  1. the Governor concerning the VBP problem;
  2. the UK Prime Minister concerning the VBP problem; and
  3. the UK Prime Minister concerning the following issues :

      - British citizenship

      - provisional legislature

      - human rights

      - the case of AU Wing-cheung and WONG Chuen-ming

      - the case of AU Fook-hung (alias CHUNG Siu-hung)

It was also agreed that a request for the delegation of the LegCo European Parliamentary Friendship Group to meet the UK Prime Minister should also be made. Members also noted the Governor’s suggestion to meet the delegation before it departed for London.

The Chairman said that the drafts of the letters would be prepared for Members’ consideration before issue.

The meeting ended at 5:55 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
17 January 1996

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