LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1460/95-96
Ref : CB2/H/5

Legislative Council House Committee
(1995/96 Session)

Minutes of 29th meeting held in the LegCo Chamber
of the Legislative Council Building
on Friday, 31 May 1996 at 3:35 p.m.

Members present :

    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    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 LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    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

Members absent :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong

Staff in attendance :

    ASG2 (Clerk to the House Committee)














(1) Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting held on 24.5.96

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1404/95-96)

The minutes were confirmed.

(2) Matters arising

(a) Report on Chairman’s meeting with the Chief Secretary

Progress on Bills

The Chairman advised members that the Acting Chief Secretary had expressed concern about the slow progress of a number of Bills. He invited members to discuss their progress :

(i) Buildings (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1995

The Chairman, on behalf of Mr Ronald ARCULLI, who was the chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that the Bills Committee was unlikely to conclude its study within this session. Mr Albert CHAN Wai-yip supplemented that the delay was mainly due to the large number of queries raised with the Bills Committee by the professional bodies concerned, despite the Administration’s claim that these bodies had already been consulted when the Bill was drafted.

(ii) Prevention of Bribery (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No 2) Bill 1995

In the absence of the chairman of the Bills Committee, the Legal Adviser reported that the Bill, which was based on the comprehensive Review Committee Report, raised important issues as to powers and accountability of the ICAC. Access to tax records was a particular example. The Administration had made prompt responses to questions raised by the Bills Committee. Although this was a complex Bill, it was likely that the Bills Committee would conclude its study within this session.

(iii) Estate Agents Bill

Mr Andrew CHENG Kar-foo, chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that this was a new Bill with wide implications. As the Bills Committee was only half way through the clause by clause examination of the Bill, it would unlikely complete its study within this session.

(iv) Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996

Miss Margaret NG, chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that as the Bill was not very controversial, it might only take a few more meetings before the Bills Committee could conclude its study.

Dr Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung pointed out that the Administration sometimes took a long time to respond to members’ comments on a bill. He cited the example of the Bills Committee on the Non-Local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Bill, which he chaired, and said that although the Bills Committee reported to the House Committee on 15.3.96 that the Bill should have its Second Reading debate resumed subject to the draft Committee Stage Amendment (CSA) being found in order, the Administration had yet to provide the Bills Committee with the draft CSA.

The Chairman said that he would brief the Chief Secretary accordingly.


(b) Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Regulation 1996

The Chairman advised members that pending further clarification from the Administration, he had given notice to move a motion at the sitting on 5.6.96 to extend the scrutiny period of the Regulation to 26.6.96.

(3) Legal Adviser’s report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 29.5.96 (gazetted on 24.5.96)

(LegCo Paper No. LS 155/95-96)

The Legal Adviser referred members to the paper, in particular items 2-13 and 22 which involved fee increases.

Mr CHAN Wing-chan suggested and members agreed to set up a Subcommittee to study items 2 and 3 which were related to increases in sewage charge and trade effluent surcharge.. The following members agreed to join : Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Mr IP Kwok-him, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok, Miss Margaret NG, Dr John TSE Wing-ling and Mr Lawrence YUM Sin-ling.

Members agreed to support the remaining items of the subsidiary legislation.

(4) Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1423/95-96)

Members noted the position report.

The Chairman said that as one Bills Committee would be reporting to the meeting, the vacant slot should be taken up by the Bills Committee on the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1996. However, the Director of Administration had requested that priority be given to the Bills Committee on the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1996 which was set up on 24.5.96. He sought members’ view regarding the request.

Mr LEE Wing-tat said that the Administration’s request, if acceded to , would affect the order of the Bills Committees on two Members’ Bills which were already in second position on the waiting list.

Miss Margaret NG was of the view that priority should be given to bills that were of greater public importance and urgency, irrespective of whether they were Government or Members’ bills.

Mr LEE Wing-tat pointed out that having regard to the different concerns of Members and the Administration, it would be difficult to prioritize bills on the basis of public importance and urgency. Members had therefore agreed that Bills Committees on the waiting list should normally be dealt with on a first-come first-served basis. It would be up to the Administration to provide justification if it wished a certain bill to be scrutinized ahead of others.

Mr IP Kwok-him suggested that the order of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1996 should be swapped with that of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1996, so as not to affect the order of the Member’s Bills on the waiting list and allow flexibility for the Administration to accord priority to the study of Government Bills.

After some discussion, members agreed that the Bills Committee on the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1996 should be activated with immediate effect as recommended by the Administration. Taking into account the dates of introduction of the Government Bills, members also agreed that the order of the first three Bills Committees on the waiting list should be adjusted as below :

(1) Electricity (Amendment) Bill 1996

(2) Housing (Amendment) Bill 1996

Housing (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1996

(3) Firearms and Ammunition (Amendment) Bill 1996

The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the mechanism for prioritizing Bills Committees on the waiting list be reviewed by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters.


Mr Fred LI Wah-ming, chairman of the Bills Committee on the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 1996 and Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 1996, said that the Bills Committee had completed its study and would report to the House Committee at the next meeting.

(5) Legal Adviser’s report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order 42(3A)

(a) Hotel Accommodation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 157/95-96)

Having regard to the representations received from the trade, the Legal Adviser suggested and members agreed to set up a Bills Committee. The following members agreed to join : Mr Howard YOUNG, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen, Mr SIN Chung-kai and Mrs Elizabeth WONG.

(b) Dentists Registration (Amendment) Bill 1996

Nurses Registration (Amendment) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 152/95-96)

The Legal Adviser said that although the two Bills were supported by the Dental Council and the Nursing Board respectively, he had recently been advised by Dr LEONG Che-hung that the Dental Association had raised some queries on the first Bill. As the Legal Service Division was still seeking comments on certain drafting points from the Administration, the Chairman suggested and members agreed to defer a decision on the Bills.

(c) Employment (Amendment) Bill 1996

Employment (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 158/95-96)

Referring members to the paper, the Legal Adviser recommended the setting up of a Bills Committee to study the Bills in detail.

Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee said that she had received a representation from the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association on 27.5.96 while serving as a Duty Roster Member. As there was considerable public concern, she supported the Legal Adviser’s recommendation to set up a Bills Committee. Members agreed.

The following members agreed to join : Mr Edward S T HO, Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee and Mr Paul CHENG Ming-fun.

(d) Immigration (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 159/95-96)

The Legal Adviser introduced the paper. In response to Mr James TIEN, the Legal Adviser explained that under existing law, an employer was required to inspect the identity card of a prospective employee. The Bill further imposed on an employer the duty to inspect the travel document of holders of non-permanent identity cards, such as a foreign domestic helper or imported worker, in order to ascertain whether the person was complying with any conditions of stay, particularly in relation to specified approved employment.

The Chairman said that Mr Ronald ARCULLI, who was not at the meeting, had suggested a Bills Committee be set up. Members agreed.

The following members agreed to join : Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr Howard YOUNG and Mr Albert HO Chun-yan.

(e) Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill

(LegCo Paper No. LS 156/95-96)

Members noted the Legal Adviser’s report.

On behalf of Mr Edward HO, who was then not at the meeting, Mrs Miriam LAU reported that the Hong Kong Institute of Architects had expressed concern about the implementation of the proposals in the Bill. Mr HO suggested that a Bills Committee be set up. Members agreed. Mrs Miriam LAU advised that Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr Edward HO and herself would join the Bills Committee.

(6) Reports by Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees

(a) Report by the Bills Committee to study the Road Traffic (Amendment) (No 3) Bill 1995, Eastern Harbour Crossing Road Tunnel (Passage Tax) Bill and Inland Revenue (Amendment) (No 4) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1506/95-96)

Mr CHAN Kam-lam, chairman of the Bills Committee, said that while the majority of members of the Bills Committee did not support the Eastern Harbour Crossing Road Tunnel (Passage Tax) Bill, the Bills Committee was unanimous in its opposition to the other two Bills. The Bills Committee had therefore requested the Administration to withdraw the three Bills. Members noted that the Administration had undertaken not to seek resumption of Second Reading debates on the Bills within this LegCo session.

Members agreed to support the recommendation of the Bills Committee. The Chairman said that he would advise the Chief Secretary of members’ position.


(b) Report by the Subcommittee to study the Waterworks (Amendment) Regulation 1996, Country Parks and Special Areas (Amendment) Regulation 1996 and Pesticides (Amendment) Regulation 1996

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1508/95-96)

The Chairman referred members to the report, the content of which had been reported verbally by Mr Fred LI at the last meeting.

Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee said that he had requested the Subcommittee to hold a meeting to consider his proposal to defer the effective date of the Waterworks (Amendment) Regulation 1996 to 1 April 1997.

The Chairman said that the Subcommittee would submit a further report to members.

(c) Report by the Panel on Home Affairs - Review of advisory and statutory bodies

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1403/95-96)

Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, chairman of the Panel, reported on the deliberations and recommendation of the Panel as contained in the report.

In response to the Chairman, the Legal Adviser said that unlike a motion in relation to bills or subsidiary legislation, a motion debate for Members to express their views would not impose any legal obligation on the Government.

Mr LEE Wing-tat said that the subject was in fact discussed by the Panel back in 1994, but no progress had so far been made.

In response to Mr James TIEN, Mr Albert HO said that as the motion calling for greater accountability and transparency in the system of boards and committees was carried at the LegCo sitting on 8.5.96, with 37 Members voting for it and only one Member against it, it would be appropriate for the House Committee to pursue the matter with the Administration.

Members endorsed the paper. The Chairman said that he would raise the matter with the Chief Secretary.


(7) Any Other Business

(a) Replies to LegCo questions

(Mr Michael HO Mun-ka’s noted dated 25.5.96)

Mr Michael HO said that the Administration had not provided relevant answers to the three-part written question asked by him at the LegCo sitting on 8.5.96. He considered the situation very unsatisfactory and wasteful of public money and the time of all concerned. He asked the House Committee to support his request for the Chairman to lodge a protest with the Chief Secretary.

A few members echoed Mr HO’s view and commented that by giving perfunctory answers, the Administration was in fact undermining LegCo’s effectiveness in monitoring Government policies.

Dr LAW Cheung-kwok suggested that members who had similar experience to that of Mr HO should provide details of the questions and replies to the Secretariat, so that they could be referred by the Chairman to the Chief Secretary. Members agreed.

The Chairman pointed out that any member who found the reply to his or her LegCo question unsatisfactory was at liberty to pursue further with the Policy Secretary concerned in the first instance. The Chairman also undertook to raise the matter at the meeting of the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters on 4.6.96.


(b) Reply from The Rt Hon Jeremy Hanley on behalf of Prime Minister

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1411/95-96)

Referring members to the paper, the Chairman highlighted the latest development regarding the first three issues covered in the Minister’s reply. Members agreed to the Chairman’s suggestion of the follow-up actions set out below :


(i) Visa-free travel for HKSAR passport holders

- To request the British Government to continue its efforts and keep members informed of progress.

(ii) Non-Chinese ethnic minorities

- To keep in view the Prime Minister’s reply to the Chairman’s letter dated 9.5.96.

- To write to Mr Robin Cook, Shadow Foreign Secretary, regarding the assurance he had given to Members on the matter at the meeting on 1.5.96.

(iii) British citizenship for wives and widows of

Members noted that Mr Robin Cook had just replied to the Chairman’s letter of 13.5.96, apologizing for the mistake which led to the rejection of the previous Private Member’s Bill and assuring that the Labour Party would do everything possible to rectify the situation.

(Post-meeting note : Mr Cook’s letter was circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 1469/95-96 on 4.6.96.)

As regards the fourth and last issue on Breaches of Joint Declaration (JD) covered in the Minister’s reply, the Legal Adviser explained that the Minister had indicated in his reply that in the case of a breach of JD, Britain would explore all legal avenues to ensure that the document was honoured. The questions he set out in the paper were so designed as to make it more difficult for a general and bland reply to be given. He believed that specific answers to the questions would assist Members and the community in evaluating the practical relevance and value of the commitment made by the British Government.

In response to Mrs Elizabeth WONG and Dr YEUNG Sum, the Legal Adviser said that the JD had been registered with the United Nations (UN). If China were to consent to the jurisdiction of the relevant international judicial forum, there should not be a problem in taking proceedings. He pointed out that question (d) specifically addressed this concern. He further advised that in some cases a state could make an unilateral application, in the hope that consent of the other party would be inferred from its conduct after the initiation of proceedings.

In response to Mr James TIEN, the Legal Adviser said that the last sentence of the Minister’s reply : "that protection will extend to members of the Legislative Council as to any other resident of Hong Kong" simply meant, in his view, that LegCo Members would not have any extra protection under the JD.

Mr Albert HO Chun-yan said that apart from legal avenues, the UN could intercede in the event of a breach of the JD through other non-legal avenues. He cited the example of the UN Human Rights Commission, which was entitled to pass resolutions on human rights matters, irrespective of whether the country concerned was a signatory of certain human rights treaty.

The Chairman suggested and members agreed that in addition to the detailed questions about the legal avenues, the British Government should also be asked to amplify what it meant by "other avenues" in the Minister’s reply.

(c) Clash of meetings

The Chairman said that Mr Albert CHAN Wai-yip, who was then not at the meeting, was concerned about the clash of committee meetings. Mr CHAN referred specifically to the special briefing by the Administration on the second runway of the new airport and the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, both of which were scheduled at 10:45 am on 30.5.96.

The Chairman said that the clash on this occasion was understandable because the Public Accounts Committee meeting was scheduled some time ago, while the Administration was keen to brief Members on the first available opportunity after agreement was reached with the Chinese side.

Mr Edward HO agreed that there was urgency for the special briefing to be held as arranged. He pointed out that it was not uncommon for more than one meeting to be scheduled at the same time slot. In fact, the slow progress of some Bills Committees could be attributed to the difficulty in finding time slots for meetings.

Both Mr Michael HO and Mr Bruce LIU expressed concern about the problem of quorum if such briefings by the Administration were held at Panel meetings.

The Chairman said that the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters would be invited to look at the arrangements for briefings by the Administration in due course.


The meeting ended at 5:05 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
5 June 1996

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