LegCo Paper No. ESC 13/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/3/2

Establishment Subcommittee

Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting held on Wednesday, 27 November 1996 at 10:45 am in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members present :
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Margaret NG
Members absent :
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public officers attending :
    Mr Kevin HO, JP
    Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
    Mr Mike STONE, JP
    Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
    Mr Matthew K C CHEUNG, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower (1)
    Mr Joshua LAW, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)
    Mr Herman CHO
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
    Mr Tony YEN, JP
    Law Draftsman, Legal Department
    Mr Peter H K CHEUNG, JP
    Chambers Manager, Legal Department
    Mrs Carrie YAU, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Security
    Refugee Coordinator, Security Branch
    Mr Kelvin PANG, JP
    Deputy Commissioner of Correctional Services
    Mr Nicholas
    FRY Civil Secretary, Correctional Services Department
    Mr K C CHEUK, JP
    Assistant Director of Immigration
    Crown Solicitor, Legal Department
Clerk in attendance :
    Mrs Constance LI
    Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
Staff in attendance :
    Miss Pauline NG
    Assistant Secretary General 1
    Mr Andy LAU
    Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)

As Mr Ronald ARCULLI had other commitments, Mr CHEUNG Bing-leung, the Deputy Chairman, chaired this meeting.

EC(96-97)45 Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Education and Manpower Branch of the Government Secretariat with effect from 1 January 1997 to cope with the additional workload in respect of industrial safety and other related issues

2. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong declared an interest as a member of the Education Commission which was serviced by a Principal Assistant Secretary (PAS) in the Education and Manpower Branch (EMB).

3. Members noted that this was a re-submission item and the Administration had provided additional information in the Supplementary Note attached to paper EC(96-97)45.

4. While agreeing that there was a need to create an additional D2 post to take charge of the work on industrial safety, a member remarked that the paper indicated an uneven distribution of work among the PASs in EMB. PAS(EM)3 and PAS(EM)6, in particular, appeared to have a lighter schedule than other PASs in EMB. The member also pointed out that the job description of PAS(EM)6 given in the Supplementary Note was somewhat different from paper EC(96-97)45.

5. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower (DS/EM) (2) clarified that both PAS(EM)3 and PAS(EM)6 had a heavy schedule. With regard to the duties of PAS(EM)3, the public consultation process and preparation work for the publication of the Education Commission Reports had become more complicated and more time-consuming. For instance, the Commission had, within the past three years, produced two major reports, both involving extensive consultation with key players and stakeholders. As Secretary to the Commission and its various working groups, PAS(EM)3 was fully engaged in the policy input and the consultation process. She also served as secretary to the Working Group on General Teaching Council and supervised the Statistical Unit in EMB. As for the duties of PAS(EM)6, DS/EM apologised that the information given in paper EC(96-97)45 was unclear. He clarified that policy formulation work in respect of special education and pre-primary education had in fact been undertaken by PAS(EM)6 instead of PAS(EM)2 since the creation of the former post. He added that PAS(EM)6 would also be required to oversee the establishment of a General Teacher Council if the proposal was accepted by the Administration.Admin

6. Since some of the workload undertaken by PAS(EM)3 might be affected by the outcome of the consultation on Education Commission Report No. 7 and the future direction of the Commission, the Administration undertook to review the workload of the PASs in EMB after the creation of the additional D2 post and provide a report to members in due course.

7. The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(96-97)47Proposed retention of a supernumerary post of Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DL2) from 1 April 1997 to 30 September 1997 in the Law Drafting Division of the Legal Department to deal with the localisation of United Kingdom legislation now applicable to Hong Kong and the adaptation of Hong Kong laws to conform to the Basic Law

8. While members were generally in support of the proposal, they expressed serious concern about the progress of the localisation and adaptation of laws in view of the short time available prior to the transfer of sovereignty. They asked in what way the retention of the Deputy Principal Crown Counsel (DPCC) post would help speed up the work in this area.

9. In response, the Law Draftsman (LD) advised that localisation of laws was progressing satisfactorily. The Administration had enacted 17 localising Ordinances and another seven localising bills were already in the pipeline. In respect of the remaining nine localising bills, the Administration would need to seek the agreement of the Chinese side. It was envisaged that the localisation programme could be completed before July 1997.

10. On the reasons why the DPCC post had to be retained up to 30 September 1997 when the localisation programme should have been completed before July 1997, LD advised that the incumbent was also responsible for the adaptation of law programme which had proven to be more complicated. Although the Administration had already handed over to the Chinese side about 120 consultation papers containing detailed adaptation proposals for about 430 Ordinances, about 200 Ordinances were still awaiting consultation with the Chinese side. Since no further response had been received from the Joint Liaison Group in this respect, it was likely that some residual work on adaptation of law could not be completed before July 1997. In this connection, the DPCC would continue to steer the adaptation programme during this period.

11. Responding to members’ concern about the interface problems if the affected Ordinances could not be adapted before July 1997, LD emphasized that the Administration had been in discussion with the Chinese side over the localisation and adaptation of law programme. Subject to the agreement of the Chinese side, the Administration would complete the drafting work for introduction to the Legislative Council as soon as possible.

12. Some members expressed grave reservation that the Preparatory Committee for the National People’s Congress had reportedly proposed to promulgate legislation on behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government to ensure that the SAR legislation would conform to the Basic Law. In response, LD advised that he was not in a position to interpret such reports, but it had always been the Administration’s intention to complete the localisation and adaptation programme before July 1997. He assured members that there would be ways to overcome the technical difficulties. Some members considered that such arrangements would have impact on the staffing proposal and suggested the matter be discussed at the LegCo Panel on Constitutional Affairs before a decision was taken on the proposal. In response, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury advised that the proposal was to ensure adequate staffing for the completion of the localisation and adaptation of law. As it would be necessary to have members’ approval before the cut-off date for the 1997-98 Draft Estimates in mid-December to enable the retention of the supernumerary post to be reflected in the Draft Estimates, the Administration would like the proposal to be considered at this meeting.Admin

13. In concluding the discussion, the Chairman suggested that the wider issue concerning the implications of the delay in the adaptation of law programme should be dealt with separately by the Panel. As the proposal had been thoroughly discussed, the Chairman put the item to vote.

14. The item was voted on and endorsed. Miss Emily LAU objected to the proposal.

EC(96-97)49Proposed retention of four supernumerary posts of one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3) and one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Security Branch, one Assistant Commissioner of Correctional Services (GDS(C)2) in the Correctional Services Department and one Assistant Director of Immigration (GDS(C)2) in the Immigration Department until 30 September 1997 to deal with the repatriation of Vietnamese Migrants (VMs) and other related problems of VMs, and the resettlement of the Vietnamese Refugees

15. Noting that the Vietnamese Migrant (VM) population was decreasing, a member asked if there was still a need to retain the posts up to 30 September 1997. In response, the Administration clarified that despite the reduction in the number of VMs, negotiations and arrangements for the repatriation of the remaining VMs had been very complex and difficult, requiring careful planning and execution under the command of directorate officers. At present, there were still 7,000 VMs under the management of the Correctional Services Department, and they would likely resist vigorously any repatriation arrangements. There were also legal challenges of the status of some of these VMs, and these cases would require very careful handling by officers of sufficient experience and ranking in the Security Branch, the Correctional Services Department and Immigration Department.

16. In response to the member’s concern that there might be insufficient workload to justify the four posts up to September 1997, the Administration undertook to review in March 1997 the workload and the continued need for these posts. If such posts were no longer required, the Administration would either seek the Subcommittee’s approval to delete the posts, or to leave them unfilled until their expiry.

17. The item was voted on and endorsed.

EC(96-97)48Proposed retention of the consultancy position of one Consultant (at Principal Crown Counsel (DL3)) from 21 May 1997 to 27 December 1997 in the Civil Division of the Legal Department to provide legal advice and conduct litigation in relation to Vietnamese asylum seekers and illegal immigrants

18. Members noted that the establishment and consultancy posts for individuals in the Legal Department had been discussed previously at this Subcommittee and the relevant LegCo Panels. With regard to the present proposal to extend the retention of a consultancy position (DL3) up to 27 December 1997, the Crown Solicitor advised that the incumbent was required to provide continued legal support on the VM-related legal proceedings. As the bulk of the cases should be completed around mid 1997 and other VM-related posts requested in EC(96-97)49 would expire on 30 September 1997, members asked why the consultancy post in Legal Department was to be retained after September 1997. In reply, the Crown Solicitor advised that the consultant had accumulated about three months leave which he had not been able to take due to heavy commitments in the past years. It was therefore necessary to extend the post to enable the consultant to take such leave before his departure. The Administration would review the continued need of the post in June 1997.Admin

19. With regard to the implications of Privy Council’s recent ruling on a case concerning the entitlements of the Ex-China Vietnamese Illegal Immigrants, the Crown Solicitor advised that the Administration and the consultant would further examine the implications on the current VM policy and its implementation. The Administration would brief the LegCo Panel on Security on the current position of VM repatriation at a meeting scheduled for December 1996.

20. The item was voted on and endorsed.

21. The Committee was adjourned at 12:10 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
12 December 1996

Last Updated on 12 August 1999