PLC Paper No. CB(1)556
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/7/96/2
Bills Committee on Railways Bill
Minutes of meeting held
on Friday, 2 May 1997, at 8:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Members present :
Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Chairman)
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Members absent :
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Public officers atteding :
- Mr Paul LEUNG
- Deputy Secretary for Transport
- Mrs Agnes Allcock
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
- Ms Linda SO
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
- Mr Francis NG
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Lands)
- Mr C K MAK
- Government Engineer/Railway Development
- Mr Roger Harding
- Government Land Agent
- Miss Sherman CHAN
- Acting Senior Assistant Law Draftsman
- Mrs Hedy CHU
- Assistant Secretary for Transport
Clerk in attendance:
- Miss Odelia LEUNG
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance :
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Matthew LOO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4 (Atg)
I Matters arising from previous meetings
(Paper No. CB(1)1410/96-97(01) - concerns raised by members at the meeting on 4 April 1997
Paper No. CB(1)1410/96-97(02) - Administrations response to members concerns raised at previous meetings
Paper No. CB(1)1410/96-97(03) - a letter from Assistant Legal Adviser advising that the proposed Committee stage amendments are in order)
At the Chairmans invitation, the Deputy Secretary for Transport (DS for T) and Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport (PAS for T) made a report on the Administrations decisions regarding imposition of a statutory time for handling objections and conduct of public hearings for objections by administrative means. The Administration agreed to move amendments to the Bill to the effect that any unresolved objections would be submitted to the Governor in Council for consideration within nine months after the expiry of the 60-day period for lodging objections. The Administration also agreed to conduct public hearings for objections by administrative arrangements. Under these arrangements, only unresolved objections would be heard on a collective basis by a panel of independent persons to be appointed by the Secretary for Transport (S for T). The panel would compile a report on its deliberations for S for Ts consideration. The report, however, would not affect the power of the Governor in Council to deal with the objections. Since these arrangements were administrative in nature, the Administration would give an undertaking to that effect at the resumed debate on the Bill. At members request, DS for T undertook to provide a written response to confirm the above proposals.
(Post-meeting note : The written response regarding the two proposals had been circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1476/97-97 on 5 May 1997.)
2. Under the Administrations proposal, resolution of objections to amendments to a railway scheme would take further nine months. Some members considered this period too long and suggested shortening it. A member proposed three months since the Governor might extend the period depending on the circumstances of the case. Whilst welcoming the proposed statutory period which was in line with that in the Town Planning White Bill, another member considered it unnecessary to specify a time limit for handling objections to amendments as the Administration would be keen on expediting the process. In response, DS for T advised that the Administration would handle each objection immediately without waiting until the expiry of the objection period, although past experience suggested that most objections would be lodged just before the deadline. Under the proposed arrangement, it would take 11 months at the most from gazettal of a railway scheme to submission of unresolved objections to the Governor. He noted members concerns and agreed to revise the period for handling objections to amendments to a railway scheme to three months.
(Post-meeting note : The revised Committee stage amendments regarding the statutory time for handling objections had been circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1476/97-97 on 5 May 1997.)
3. Hon Albert HO Chun-yan said that the Democratic Party supported the proposed administrative arrangements for conducting public hearings for objections. He, however, disagreed with a suggestion that the New Territories Heung Yee Kuks (NTHYK) must be represented in a hearing. He emphasized that members appointed to the panel should be independent, and ex-officio members were not appropriate. DS for T noted the members views and advised that the Administration would have regard to such criteria as independence, fairness, and avoidance of conflict of interest in appointing members to the panel.
4. Referring to clause 27(1)(c) and (d) of the Bill, a member enquired whether compensation would be payable to affected persons if the Building Authority (BA) required amendments to or imposed conditions on a building plan to avoid incompatibility with the railway works. In response, the Government Land Agent (GLA) and Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (Lands) (PAS for PEL) affirmed that an affected person might apply for land resumption if the BA refused to give approval to the building works. Where amendments or conditions imposed by the BA had resulted in a diminution in the value of the land, he might apply for compensation for loss under item 9 of Part II of the Schedule.
5. Hon LAU Wong-Fat pointed out that 68.5% of affected parties would receive statutory compensation three months after resumption of lands, and some of them experienced financial difficulties in the interim. He suggested that interest should be payable for ex-gratia compensation. He also suggested that the Administration should apply the same rate in calculating compensation for lands resumed irrespective of their locality. In response, PAS for PEL and GLA advised that it was established policy to pay compensation in the N.T. generally on the basis of zonal rates, which reflected the difference in value in different locations. The Administration was reviewing the subject and would follow this up with NTHYK. Hon Edward S T HO suggested that the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works might discuss the issue at appropriate time.
6. Mr LAU also opined that an indigenous villagers priority for small house grants should not be affected by resumption of the relevant land for a railway project. Other members echoed his view. In response, PAS for PEL advised that his priority might be retained if he could identify private land to build the small house. Otherwise, such an arrangement would affect the turn of other small house grant applicants. The Administration would follow this up with NTHYK.
7. Members noted the Assistant Legal Advisers advice that the Committee stage amendments (CSAs) proposed by the Administration were in order.
8. Members agreed that a report on the deliberations of the Bills Committee be made to the House Committee on 16 May 1997 to recommend resumption of Second Reading debate on the Bill on 4 June 1997.
9. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 9:40 a.m.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
26 November 1997
Last Updated on 7 December 1997