PLC Paper No. CB(2)206
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration and cleared with the Chairman)
Ref : CB2/PL/PS/1

LegCo Panel on Public Service

Minutes of meeting held on Monday, 26 May 1997 at 10:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon IP Kwok-him(Chairman)
    Hon LEE Kai-ming (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung

Member attending :

    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee

Members absent :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Public officers attending :

For All Items
Secretary for the Civil Service

For Item III
Deputy Secretary (Civil Service)2
Mr Philip CHAN
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Director of Personnel & Training
Royal Hong Kong Police Force
Mr NG Wai-kit
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Personnel

For Item IV
Ms Sandra LEE
Deputy Secretary (Civil Service)1
Miss Angela LUK
Principal Assistant Secretary (Civil Service)

For LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2338/96-97(03)
Mr Cletus LAU
Director of General Grades

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Sharon TONG
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)1

Staff in attendance :

Mr Paul WOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (2)5

I. Confirmation of minutes of meetings held on 27 January 1997

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2293/96-97)

The minutes of meeting held on 27 January 1997 were confirmed.

II. Date of next meeting and items for discussion

2. Subject to any agenda items proposed by members, the next meeting would be held on 16 June 1997 at 8:30 am.

(Post-meeting note: As there was no agenda item, the meeting was cancelled vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2525/96-97.)

III. Update on localization of the Police Force

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2338/96-97(01))

3. In response to members’ questions, Director of Personnel and Training made the following points:

  1. The Force’s localization strategy was adopted in 1985. The aims to achieve, by the year 1995, a local Commissioner of Police and at least one local Deputy Commissioner, and by the year 2000, a higher proportion of local officers than expatriate officers at the rank of Superintendent and above had already been met.
  2. The majority of expatriate officers remaining in the Force i.e. about 330, were on contract terms, and about 125 officers were on pensionable terms.
  3. The Force had ceased to recruit expatriate officers since 1994. Officers might be recruited from overseas if it was absolutely necessary.
  4. Promotion of police officers was based on merits, experience and potential to assume higher responsibilities.

    4. On the question of localization, Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS(CS)1) informed members that the Government’s localization policy did not apply to officers at the Inspectorate rank of the Police Force and the Judiciary. All matters on recruitment and promotion of police officers were handled by the Police Force itself.

    5. Mr Michael HO Mun-ka expressed concern that the monitoring of the recruitment and promotion of police officers fell outside the purview of the Public Service Commission (PSC). DS(CS)1 said that the Commissioner of Police had statutory power to appoint staff of the Force. Being part of the Government, the terms of appointment and conditions for service determined by the Force had to be made in accordance with the general principles adopted by the Civil Service Branch (CSB). In practice, should there be any change on the Force’s terms of appointment and condition of service, CSB would be consulted. PSC would give advice informally to the Force on recruitment and promotion matters. At the moment, there was no plan for any change to the present mode of operation as to these matters of the Force. At the request of Mr HO, DS(CS)1 agreed to provide the background to and rationale for the Force’s exemption from the jurisdiction of PSC.


    IV. Follow-up on appeal channel in the civil service after the handover

    (LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2338/96-97(02))

    6. In response to Mr CHAN Wing-chan’s questions on the proposed appeal channel in the civil service, DS(CS)1 said that the Administration had agreed with the staff side that after the transfer of sovereignty, the appeal process should end in Hong Kong. In this connection, the Administration intended that the right of officers to make representations to the Governor, the Secretary of State and The Queen should be collectively replaced by a similar right of appeal to the Chief Executive (CE). This would be in addition to the general right of persons living in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to petition CE under Article 48(13) of the Basic Law (BL). Therefore, as an immediate first step to provide a post-June 1997 channel of appeal, the Administration proposed to include a right to petition CE by civil servants in the proposed Executive Order to be issued by CE under BL 48(4). The Administration was exploring further the establishment of a review board under the proposed Executive Order on the administration of the civil service to advise the CE on the handling of representations. Regarding the earlier proposal to set up a review board under the umbrella of PSC, both the Administration and the staff side saw limitations with this proposal as it would exclude police officers whose appointment, promotion and discipline were outside the ambit of PSC. It was also unable to deal with appeals on disciplinary cases for junior officers of the other disciplined services who were subject to relevant Ordinances and their own departmental disciplinary regulations. The Administration was still consulting the staff side further on the option and details of coverage of the proposed appeal mechanism. At members’ request, DS(CS)1 undertook to provide more details on the six petitions to the Secretary of State or The Queen under CR69 and 70 during 1990-1996.

    (Post-meeting note: Details on the six cases of petitions were forwarded to members vide LegCo Paper No.CB(2)2785/96-97.)

    7. While supporting that the appeal process should end in Hong Kong, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong suggested that a 3-tier appeal mechanism be adopted to better safeguard the interest of civil servants and that a review board under the umbrella of PSC should be considered. Mr CHEUNG questioned why police officers were exempted from the jurisdiction of PSC. He opined that opportunity should be taken to put police officers on an equal footing with their counterparts in the civil service in that their appeals should be subject to the same mechanism as other civil servants. DS(CS)1 responded that as explained earlier the Administration had reservations about the proposal to establish a review board under the PSC. The Administration hoped to come up with a proposal whereby all civil servants would be covered and be accepted by the staff side.

    8. Mr Anthony CHEUNG Being-leung commented that it was opportune time to re-examine the functions and powers of PSC with a view to including, at the least, appeals involving appointment and promotion of police officers after the handover. Appeals on disciplinary cases for police officers could continue to be handled by the Police Force. DS(CS)1 noted the view. She added that the functions and powers of PSC were governed by the Public Service Commission Ordinance. Any changes to its powers would require amendment to the Ordinance.

    . Regarding the composition of the review board under the proposed appeal mechanism, DS(CS)1 said that one of the possible options was to have a board with, among others, one or two retired judges. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong considered it not desirable to appoint serving judges, who had already been heavily involved in court works, as board members.

    V. Any other business

    Development of a multi-skilled general support service in the civil service

    (LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2338/96-97(03))

    9. The Chairman said that at the Special Finance Committee meeting held on 25 March 1997, the Deputy Chairman requested the Administration to provide further details on the Civil Service Branch’s proposal to develop a multi-skilled general support service. Details of the proposals were set out in LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2338/96-97(03). Members noted that the Administration had recently completed a comprehensive review on the work of the clerical and secretarial grades and concluded that there was a need to streamline existing grade structures and rationalize office practices in order to make better use of human resources. A package of measures had been developed to restructure the clerical and secretarial grades to provide the multi-skilled office support service. These measures included a reduction in the establishment of typists and phasing out of the Office Assistant grade whose duties would be absorbed by clerical assistants or workmen II, as appropriate.

    10. The Deputy Chairman said that the staff associations concerned had no objection to the proposal which would not adversely affect the terms and conditions of service as well as the promotion prospect of the existing staff. Whilst supporting a multi-skilled general support service to enhance office efficiency, some members opined that the Administration should provide more flexibility in the revised duties of the clerical and secretarial staff. With such a flexibility, the clerical and secretarial staff concerned could take up new duties without the need to award incremental credit as proposed in para 7 of the Administration’s paper. The Director of General Grades (DGG) said that the award of incremental credit to clerical staff who had attained specific level in providing a full-range of word-processing aimed to encourage and recognize increase in productivity.

    11. Regarding the timetable for developing the multi-skilled general support service, DGG pointed out that the restructure of the clerical and secretarial grades to provide a multi-skilled office support service might take several years to complete. Phasing out of the Office Assistant grade might only be completed when those Office Assistants who were not qualified for appointment as Clerical Assistants left the service.

    Civil service pay adjustment 1977

    12. At the Chairman’s invitation, the Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS) briefed members on the proposed civil service pay adjustments. He said that an offer of a pay adjustment of 6.81% for the lower and middle salary bands and 6.90% for the upper band and the directorate, with effect from 1 April 1997, had been put to the staff sides of the four central consultative councils who had responded to the Administration on the pay offer. With the exception of the Disciplined Services Consultative Council Staff Side (which maintained its demand of a pay adjustment of 8.14% across-the-board), the staff sides of the three other councils had sought a pay adjustment of not less than 6.90% across-the-board. After considering their views and on the advice of the Executive Council, the Administration would decide on the pay offer before mid-June 1997. Subject to the funding approval by the Finance Committee of LegCo, the revised salaries, together with arrears, would be paid at the end of July 1997.

    13. In view of the far-reaching implications of the departure from the pay trend survey results in 1990 and 1991, Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong opined that civil service pay adjustments should follow the pay trend indicators (PTIs). If the pay trend survey could not realistically reflect the pay adjustments in the private sector, the mechanism on pay adjustments should be reviewed. In deciding pay adjustments, the Administration should take into account the views of the lower band staff who could only have a very small amount of pay rise with a low adjustment level, and the negative impact on the morale of lower band staff which might arise from the great difference between the pay adjustment levels of the upper and lower bands.

    14. SCS said that since 1993 the Administration had followed strictly the net PTIs for the upper and middle bands. In line with prevailing Government practice following a recommendation of the 1988 Committee of Inquiry, where the net PTI for the lower band was below that of the middle band, the lower band pay increase would be brought up to the same level as the middle band. In bringing up the pay adjustment of lower band officers to the highest net PTI, the Administration had to be cautioned that it would not give rise to incomparability with the private sector. The Administration had taken into account other factors like staff morale and the aim not to widen the income disparity amongst civil servants in drawing up the pay adjustments. Hence, the Administration would continue the practice this year despite a relatively large (0.43%) difference between the net PTIs of the middle and lower bands. SCS added that if the staff side considered that there was a need to review the mechanism on pay adjustments, the Administration would be willing to do so.

    VI. Close of meeting

    15. The meeting ended at 12:00 noon.

    Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
    25 August 1997

    Last Updated on 21 August 1998