LegCo Paper No. HB 509/95-96
Ref : HB/H/5

Legislative Council House Committee
(1995/96 Session)

Minutes of 14th meeting held in the LegCo Chamber
of the Legislative Council Building
on Friday, 19 January 1996 at 4:05 p.m.

Present :

    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    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 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 Fred LI Wah-ming
    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
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    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
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    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
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Absent :

    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP

In attendance :

    ASG2 (Clerk to the House Committee)











(1) Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting held on 12.1.96

(LegCo Paper No. HB 471/95-96)

The Chairman advised that there was a typographical error in the third line from the bottom on page 4 : the word "Introduced" should read "Introducing". The minutes were confirmed subject to this amendment.

(2) Matters arising

Follow up on the meeting with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 8.1.96

The Chairman sought Members’ view on the three draft letters to the UK Prime Minister and the Governor respectively. He also referred Members to the reply tabled at the meeting (Appendix I) from the Governor concerning the former PWC’s recommendation, one of the issues to be raised in the letter to the Prime Minister.

In response to Miss Emily LAU and Mr Martin LEE, the Chairman said that the decision to write two separate letters to the Prime Minister had been reached by the House Committee at the previous meeting. A vote among Members was cast and the decision was reaffirmed. Mr Martin LEE suggested that, in order not to give the impression that the letter on the issue of VBP was more important than the other letter, the wording of the letters should be amended to the effect that they were of equal importance. This was agreed.

The draft letters were endorsed with the following amendments :

Letter to the Prime Minister on VBP issue :

  1. to replace "aggravating ........ Hong Kong." in para 4 of page 2 with "creating for Hong Kong a huge problem which is still unresolved".

    Letter to the Prime Minister on other issues :

  2. to rephrase the first paragraph;
  3. to add "and ICESCR" after the heading "Future reporting under ICCPR" on page 3; and
  4. to delete reference to the case of AU Fook-hung on page 4.

Miss Emily LAU advised that the Hong Kong-European Parliament Parliamentary Friendship Group Hong Kong delegation had had a meeting on 17.1.96. The delegation would visit London on 26-27 February and Brussels from 28 February to 1 March. The LegCo London Office was seeking to arrange for the delegation to meet the Prime Minister and senior UK officials. The delegation had also agreed to set aside 9:00 a.m. on 12.2.96 to meet the Governor and to solicit his assistance in seeking the Prime Minister’s agreement to meet the delegation.

Members agreed that a draft position paper of the House Committee should be prepared on the basis of the letters to the Prime Minister.

(3) Legal Adviser’s report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 17.1.96

(LegCo Paper No. LS 66/95-96)

The Legal Adviser drew Members’ attention to items 3-7 which dealt with control on construction noise in noise sensitive residential areas and to items 8 and 9 which were related to fee increases.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested and Members agreed that items 8 and 9 should be studied by the Subcommittee set up at the previous meeting to study the subsidiary legislation tabled in LegCo on 10.1.96.

Members also agreed to Mr ARCULLI’s suggestion to defer a decision on items 3-7 to the next meeting.

(4) Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees

(LegCo Paper No. HB 478/95-96)

Members noted the report.

(5) Further business for the LegCo sitting on 24.1.96

Bill - 1st and 2nd Readings

Immigration Service (Amendment) Bill 1996

The Chairman advised that the Administration had notified the Secretariat that the Bill would not be introduced on 24.1.96 as originally scheduled.

(6) Business for the LegCo sitting on 31.1.96

(a) Questions

(LegCo Paper No. CB 373/95-96)

The Chairman said that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

(b) Statement

No statement had been notified.

(c) Government Motion

No motion had been notified.

(d) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings

(i) Environmental Impact Assessment Bill

(ii) Biological Weapons Bill

(iii) Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 1996

(iv) Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 1996

The Chairman advised that the above Bills would be introduced into LegCo on 31.1.96 and considered by the House Committee on 2.2.96.

(e) Member’s Motion

Resolution under section 16(3) of the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Ordinance (Cap. 380) - to be moved by Mr
LEE Cheuk-yan

(LegCo Paper No. LS 67/95-96)

The Chairman referred Members to the revised LegCo Paper No. LS 67/95-96, replacing the paper issued under the agenda, and to a draft speech Mr LEE Cheuk-yan intended to make on 31.1.96. Both documents were tabled at the meeting. (Appendices II & III).

The Legal Adviser said that the drafting aspect of the resolution was in order, and the policy issue was a matter for Members.

Mr LEE Cheuk-yan informed Members that he had proposed to move the resolution at the sitting on 31.1.96 so that, if the resolution was passed, it could take effect on 2.2.96 in order to enhance payments for workers before the Lunar New Year as this was usually the period in which many companies would wind up. Mr Allen LEE had reservations about the proposed resolution which had not been subject to the usual scrutiny in regard to changes of a substantial nature. He suggested that a subcommittee be set up to study the proposal. Mr LEE Cheuk-yan objected to the suggestion.

In response to the Chairman, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan supplemented that the Labour Advisory Board (LAB) had recommended in December 1995 to accept the Government’s proposals in respect of the maximum payments from the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund (the Fund) i.e. $32,000 for wages, $10,000 (or 1 month’s wages whichever was lesser) for wages in lieu of notice and no change for severance payment. At the time, the labour representatives of the LAB had expressed reservations about the proposal. He said that with an annual surplus of about $100 million since its inception, the Fund now had a total surplus of $780 million and was therefore in a healthy financial position even with the approval of his proposals.

Some Members were of the view that since the resolution was different from the consensus reached by the LAB, it would facilitate Members’ understanding of the proposals if a subcommittee was formed and briefed also on the Administration’s response. Miss Margaret NG suggested that interested Members could ask the Administration to provide an information paper.

Some Members said that it was not necessary to set up a subcommittee to study the resolution which was quite straightforward. Members who had contrary views could either vote against or amend the resolution in Council. The Chairman advised Members that, even if a subcommittee was formed, Mr LEE Cheuk-yan could still decide to proceed with moving the resolution on 31.1.96.

A vote was taken on Mr Allen LEE’s proposal to set up a subcommittee to study the resolution. There were 11 votes for and 24 votes against the proposal. The Chairman declared that no subcommittee would be formed.

(f) Motion debate on "Policy on Chinese immigrants" - to be moved by Mr LAW Chi-kwong

(g) Motion debate on "Shadow government" - to be moved by Miss Emily LAU Wai-hing

The Chairman advised Members that the deadline for giving notice of amendment, if any, to any of the above three motions, was 24.1.96.

(7) Advance information on motion debates for the LegCo sitting on 7.2.96

(a) Motion debate on "Maintaining Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a leading international financial centre"

Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Paul CHENG Ming-fun.

(b) Motion debate on "Sale of Flats to Sitting Tenants Scheme"

Members noted the wording of the motion to be moved by Mr Edward S T HO.

The Chairman advised that the deadlines for giving notice of the above motions and of amendments, if any, were 23.1.96 and 31.1.96 respectively.

(8) Motion debates at the sitting on 14.2.96

The Chairman said that both Mr LEE Wing-tat and Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung had been unsuccessful in four consecutive ballots for a debating slot. They would like to seek the agreement of the House Committee to allocate the two debating slots to them without the need for a ballot. Under existing practice, only one of the two debating slots at a sitting could be allocated to a Member who had been unsuccessful in two or more consecutive ballots.

At the request of the Chairman, Messrs LEE and LEUNG said that they had reached a compromise and asked Members to endorse it : Mr LEE would take up one of the slots at the sitting on 14.2.96 to move his motion debate on "Proposal of the Housing Authority’s Ad Hoc Group on Private Domestic Property Ownership by Sitting Public Housing Rental Tenants" as the consultation period relating to the subject of the motion would expire on 6.3.96. Mr LEUNG would ballot for the remaining slot together with other Members.

Members endorsed the arrangement.

(9) Reports by Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees

For information

(a) Report by the Constitutional Affairs Panel - Matters relating to the HKSAR Preparatory Committee

The Chairman advised that this item had been withdrawn by the chairman of the Panel.

For consideration

(b) Report by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters - Improving cooperation between LegCo and the Administration

(LegCo Paper No. HB 487/95-96)

The Chairman introduced the Paper and said that the Subcommittee’s proposal was summarized in paragraph 7 of the Paper. Mr Martin LEE suggested and Members agreed to insert the word "potentially" before "controversial proposals ..." in line 2 of paragraph 7(a).

Mr Martin LEE advised Members that the general principle of his revised proposal was to facilitate the discussion of major legislative and financial proposals by Panels at an early stage. If this was not done, the House Committee and Finance Committee could invite the relevant Panels to discuss them with the Administration. The revised proposal did not involve any amendments to the Standing Orders.

Referring to paragraph 6 of the Paper, Mr Martin LEE said:

    - Any decision reached by a Panel would not be binding on the House Committee, the Finance Committee or the Council, just as decisions reached by Bills Committees were not binding on the Council.

    - The Administration supported the proposal in general and had not suggested that the proposal would cause confusion.

    - As the proposal was merely an extension of the present system, there should not be too much concern about substantial increase in the frequency of Panel meetings.

    - He accepted the suggestion that Members should be allowed to re-signify membership of Panels.

    - While there might be implications on the roles and workload of the House Committee, Bills Committees, the Finance Committee and its subcommittees, he expected that his proposal would bring about overall improvement on the efficiency of the Council, as the Administration could discuss major legislative and financial proposals at an early stage.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that he objected to Mr Martin LEE’s proposal for the following reasons :

    - The proposal that the House Committee and the Finance Committee should decide whether any proposal, which had not been considered by a relevant Panel, should be referred to the Panel would create a lot of debates and lead to duplication of efforts among all committees concerned.

    - There could be duplication of efforts between Panels and Bills Committees and the role of Bills Committees might gradually diminish.

    - The impact of the proposal on the workload of the Secretariat had not been assessed.

In response to the Chairman, Deputy Secretary General said that the workload of the Panels was expected to increase because, apart from increase in the frequency of meetings, reports on issues which had been deliberated by Panels would have to be submitted to the House Committee and Finance Committee. The Secretariat was considering the feasibility of restructuring the committees divisions to fit into the new arrangements if these were agreed by Members.

In reply to Dr Philip WONG Yu-hong, Secretary General said that the proposal would increase the frequency of Panel meetings without necessarily reducing that of other committee meetings. It was difficult to estimate accurately the additional resources required until after the new arrangements had become operative.

Mrs Selina CHOW echoed Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s view that the implications of the proposal could be greater than it appeared. She made the following points :

    - The proposal would increase the workload of Panels to the extent that bottle-necks might be created.

    - The views of Panels might not necessarily represent those of the Council. The Administration might not get the accurate views of the Council on certain proposals.

    - The existing system was efficient and flexible in that non-Panel Members could join a Bills Committee at the appropriate stage. Under Mr Martin LEE’s proposal, the burden to attend Panel meetings would be heavy for Members not affiliated to political groups.

    - As the Administration was already consulting Panels on major policy issues, the need for a new system was therefore questionable.

Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mr IP Kwok-him were not convinced that any change to the existing system was necessary.

Mr Frederick FUNG Kin-kee said that he still preferred the committee system which Mr Martin Lee had originally proposed as it could allow Members to develop expertise in policy areas. He was concerned how Members could ensure that the revised proposal could be implemented fully if it was not laid down in the Standing Orders. He also suggested that if the proposal was implemented, it should be reviewed in July.

Members who supported the proposal said that it would expedite scrutiny of bills and financial proposals.

Mr Martin LEE repeated that his revised proposal was only an extension of the existing system. He did not consider it necessary to stipulate the arrangements in the Standing Orders as the Administration should have the political wisdom to decide whether or not to consult Panels early on a particular proposal.

The proposal of the Subcommittee was put to vote. There were 22 votes for and 17 votes against it. The Chairman declared that the proposal was carried.

In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI regarding paragraph 8 of the Paper, the Chairman said that it was for the Finance Committee to review the role and functions of its two subcommittees, and that the workload and working arrangements of the Secretariat should also be reviewed.

Members also agreed to Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s suggestion that Members would be given two weeks to enrol again for Panel membership without affecting the chairmanship.

(10) Any Other Business

Insufficient space for use by the Legislative Council

Members noted the Chairman’s advice that The Legislative Council Commission would discuss the subject with the Administration at its meeting on 23.1.96.

The meeting ended at 5:55 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
24 January 1996

Last Updated on {{PUBLISH AUTO[[DATE("d mmm, yyyy")]]}}