LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1182/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/11/96

Bills Committee on
Freight Containers (Safety) Bill

Minutes of the meeting
held on Thursday, 13 March 1997, at 8:30 a.m.
in Conference Room B of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon LEE Kai-ming

Member absent :

    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Public officers attending :

Mr Richard YUEN
Deputy Secretary for Economic Services
Assistant Director of Marine/Multi-lateral Policy
Ms Sharon LEE
Assistant Secretary for Economic Services

Clerk in attendance :

Ms Estella CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (1) 4

Staff in attendance :

Miss Connie FUNG
Assistant Legal Adviser 3
Mr Daniel HUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (1) 7

I Follow-up on matters arising from last meeting

1. Members considered that the issue of freight container safety should cover more than structural safety of freight containers. They noted that according to a study in the United States, 98% of the accidents involving freight containers were due to human errors while only 2% were due to structural safety of freight containers. Some overseas cities had produced codes of practice in handling freight containers. They asked whether the Administration had information on these codes of practice and whether it would consider setting up an inter-departmental committee to co-ordinate issues relating to freight container safety.

2. The Deputy Secretary for Economic Services (DSES) agreed that the subject of freight container safety should cover more than structural safety of freight containers. He would consult relevant Government departments on existing measures for ensuring freight containers safety other than the structural safety aspects, and forward the information to members. He stated that the Administration’s effort in enhancing freight container safety would not cease after enactment of the Bill. Follow-up actions on measures to enhance safety in handling of freight containers would be considered.


3. As regards whether the driver of a container vehicle would be liable if the freight container was overloaded, DSES confirmed that the driver concerned would be liable under ordinances related to road safety.

II Clause-by-clause examination of the Bill and Committee stage amendments (CSAs)

4. The Assistant Legal Adviser (ALA) said that the CSAs prepared by the Administration as circulated in LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1041/96-97(01) had addressed comments raised by the Legal Service Division of the LegCo Secretariat and had also accommodated amendments suggested in the container terminal operators’ submission. She had suggested some further amendments to the proposed CSA on clause 17(2) and was awaiting the Administration’s reply. In response, DSES advised that he had no objection in principle to the suggested amendments by ALA but a reply would be made after consultation with the Law Draftsman. The Chairman remarked that as the amendments proposed by ALA were not concerned with matters of principle, the issue could be resolved between ALA and the Administration.

(Post-meeting note: A complete set of CSAs provided by the Administration was circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1135/96-97 dated 22 March 1997.)

Clause-by-clause examination of the Bill

Clauses 1-7

5. Members had no particular comments.

Clause 8

6. ALA noted that the Director of Marine (DoM) would make orders under clause 8 and the Secretary for Economic Services might make regulations under clause 27 for the purpose of the Bill. She enquired whether the Administration’s timetable for implementation of the Bill would be dependent on those orders and regulations being made. DSES advised that if enacted, the Bill should come into operation on a day to be appointed by the Secretary for Economic Services. Two orders and one regulation under the Ordinance had been prepared and would come into effect the same time as the Ordinance. Before the Ordinance would come into operation, it was necessary for the United Kingdom Government to extend the application of the International Convention for Safe Containers 1972 to Hong Kong. In any event, the Ordinance was to be implemented before 1 July 1997.

Clauses 9-10

7. Members had no particular comments.

Clause 11

8. Mr CHAN Kam-lam sought clarification on the condition of a freight container which would be considered as being "in an efficient state" as required in clause 11(2). DSES advised that the three conditions as specified in clause 11(2) should be read together, i.e., a safe container should be "in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair". The totality of this requirement was that a container would be considered safe if it could be used in a safe and efficient manner. The Assistant Director of Marine further explained that "an efficient state" referred to the safety condition of a container which could be inspected visually. For example, a container with a broken corner-fitting would not be considered as being in an efficient state. On the other hand, the "efficient working order" of a container could only be observed while the container was in operation.

Clauses 12-22

9. Members had no particular comments.

Clauses 23-24

10. ALA noted that these clauses provided for a person who was aggrieved by a decision made by an authorized person or DoM, to appeal against the decision. In order that the person concerned could make an appeal, an authorized person or DoM should, in making a decision, inform the person concerned of the reasons for the decision. She informed the meeting that she had raised this concern with the Administration who agreed to make known to the person concerned the reasons for a decision made under the Bill.

Clauses 25-29

11. Members had no particular comments.

III Any other business

12. Members agreed to report the deliberations of the Bills Committee to the House Committee on 4 April 1997 and to recommend resumption of Second Reading debate on 16 April 1997.

13. The meeting ended at 9:00 a.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
2 April 1997

Last Updated on 14 October 1997