Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. CB(2) 1278
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/3/97
Bills Committee on
Legislative Council Bill
Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 10 September 1997 from 8:30 am to 11:55 am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building
Members Present :
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP (Chairman)
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon YUEN Mo
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Members Absent :
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-Hong
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Public Officers Attending :
- Mr NG Sek-Hon
- Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs
- Mr Patrick HO Chung-kei
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs
- Mr James OEIL
- Principal Government Counsel
- Ms Phyllis KO
- Senior Assistant Law Draftsman (Acting)
Clerk in Attendance :
- Mrs Percy MA
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2)3
Staff in Attendance :
- Mr Jimmy MA
- Legal Adviser
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 1
I.Discussion on Members' initial proposed amendments to the Bill
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(01) and 274(02))
Mr Andrew WONGs proposed amendments relating to Functional Constituency (FC)
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(01), 276(06) and 286(03))
Mr Andrew WONG referred members to his speech delivered at the sitting of the former Legislative Council on 29 June 1994 on "A Comprehensive and Democratic Electoral Reform Package" which stated the rationale of his then amendments to the Legislative Council (Electoral Provisions) (Amendment) Bill 1994. He considered that the amendments met the requirements of Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, i.e. elections must be universal and equal. He therefore would like to move similar amendments to the Legislative Council Bill in respect of FC elections. He proposed to group the 30 functional seats into 5 FCs (Commerce ; Education and Culture ; Industry ; Labour ; and Public and Social Services) of 6 seats each and all registered electors on the general electoral roll would be entitled to vote. Moreover, candidates for FC elections should be confined to persons who possessed substantial knowledge and experience in the function concerned.
2.Mr Howard YOUNG queried whether the proposal to allow all registered electors to be entitled to vote in FC elections would contravene Article 6 of the decision adopted by the Preparatory Committee on 23 May 1997 on the "Specific Method for the Formation of the First Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People Republic of China" (the Specific Method). Mr Andrew WONG responded that he hoped that the President of the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) would take a liberal view and allow him to move the amendment.
3.While Mrs Elsie TU considered the proposal a far-sighted and ideal system for democracy, she did not feel that it could be implemented at this time.
4. Mr CHAN Kam-lam did not support the proposal. He considered it difficult to ascertain whether the candidates possessed "substantial knowledge and experience" in the function concerned.
5.Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (DS(CA)) advised that the Administration did not support the proposal as it deviated from the form of FC elections which had all along been adopted.
Mr WONG Siu-yees proposed amendment relating to authorized representative (AR)
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(01) and 276(01))
6.Mr WONG Siu-yee pointed out that under clause 24(1) and (2), a corporate elector was required to select one eligible person to be its authorized representative for the purposes of casting its vote at a FC election and the person concerned must have a substantial connection with the corporate elector. Under clause 3(2)(b), the circumstances in which a person had a substantial connection with a FC included, but were not limited to, being a member, partner, officer or employee of a corporate elector of the constituency or a corporate member of such a corporate elector. Mr WONG considered this requirement too loose as any employee of a corporate elector might be selected as its AR. He therefore proposed that persons who were to be appointed as ARs must be of management level, such as directors of the board or senior management officers of corporate electors.
7.DS(CA) considered that corporate electors should be allowed to choose their own ARs to represent them to vote in the FC elections and that it would not be appropriate to tighten up the requirements. Mr Howard YOUNG shared his view and pointed out that tightening up of the requirements might cause practical difficulties for corporate electors to select their ARs and as a result, might deter them from voting in FC elections, just as what had happened in the 1995 Legislative Council election. Mr Ronald ARCULLI also considered it difficult to define "senior management". Ms CHOY So-yuk opined that employees should be allowed to be appointed as ARs but it would be better to state clearly the level of employees who could be appointed.
8.Some members considered the definition of "substantial connection" provided in clause 3(2)(b) unclear. Principal Government Counsel (PGC) advised that the question of whether a person had a substantial connection with a company would be a question of fact depending on the circumstances of individual case. Responding to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, PGC said that normally, a company doctor would not be considered to have a substantial connection with the company. However, it had to depend on the exact circumstances of each case. DS(CA) suggested the Legal Adviser and PGC to look into the drafting aspect to see if the wording of the clause could be refined.
Mr Frederick FUNG/Mr Bruce LIUs proposed amendment relating to corporate elector
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(01) and 276(05))
9.Regarding Mr Frederick FUNG/Mr Bruce LIUs proposed amendment that a maximum of six directors of a corporate elector should be allowed to vote, DS(CA) advised that the Administration could not support the proposed amendment as it did not conform with the PCs decision.
Proposed amendments relating to the voting system for Election Committee (EC) by Mr CHAN Choi-hi and Mr Andrew WONG respectively
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(01), 266(02) and 276(06))
10. Mr CHAN Choi-hi proposed to adopt the Single Transferable Voting (STV) system for the EC election to avoid domination by any particular party. Mr Andrew WONG commented that although the STV system was acceptable, the simplest way was to adopt the list system of proportional representation.
11.Referring to explanation given at previous meetings of the Bills Committee, DS(CA) reiterated that the Administration considered it appropriate to use the Block Vote system. In response to Mr Andrew WONG queries, DS(CA) advised that the STV system had been adopted in 1995 because the then EC comprised only 283 electors, hence it was necessary to adopt a voting system which would prevent domination by any particular group. However, the EC for the first Legislative Council election in 1998 would have 800 electors coming from four equal-sized sectors and mostly be chosen by election. The risk of domination should therefore be greatly reduced. In the circumstances, the Administration had opted for the Block Vote system which was simpler and easier to understand.
Prof NG Ching-fais proposed amendments to replace the Insurance FC by the Higher Education FC
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(02) and 276(03))
12.Prof NG Ching-fai pointed out that under Article 5 of the Specific Method, the new nine FC seats should be divided among nine groups to be chosen by the HKSAR from the 15 groups listed therein, one of which being Higher Education. In view of the contribution of the higher education sector and the differences between primary education and higher education, he considered that Higher Education deserved to have its own seat. He therefore proposed to replace item 5 of Schedule 1 of the Bill, i.e. the Insurance FC by the Higher Education FC and to transfer the electors of Insurance FC to item 23 of Schedule 1, i.e. the Financial Services FC.
13.DS(CA) responded that the decision on the proposed allocation of the nine new FC seats was made after extensive consultation. The Administration did not support the proposal to replace the Insurance FC by the Higher Education FC as the former should be a separate FC because of its important role, and the latter could basically be represented in the Education FC.
14.Mr Howard YOUNG believed that the Administrations proposed allocation of the new nine FC seats was the same as that proposed by the Chinese side during the Sino-British talks in 1992-1994, where Higher Education was not included. As requested by Mr YOUNG, DS(CA) undertook to provide published information in this aspect, if any.
15. Mr Andrew WONG said that he had no objection to the proposed Higher Education FC, but had difficulty in deciding which one of the proposed new nine FCs should give way to this FC. Moreover, he considered it inappropriate to group the electors of the Insurance FC under the Financial Services FC. Prof NG Ching-fai responded that he appreciated the difficulties involved. He emphasized that all the 15 groups listed in Article 5 of the Specific Method were important but his proposal would offer a more balanced combination, i.e. to divide the new nine FC seats among commerce and industry, grassroots and professionals in the ratio of 4:3:2 instead of 5:3:1 as proposed by the Administration.
Mr CHAN Kam-lams proposed amendments to expand the electorate of the Social Welfare FC
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(02) and 278(01))
16.Mr CHAN Kam-lam proposed to expand the electorate of the Social Welfare FC by including the following -
- members entitled to vote at general meetings of societies established solely for religious, charitable, social or recreational purposes or as a rural committee or a federation or other association of rural committees and exempted from registration by the Societies Officer under the Societies Ordinance ;
- members of companies formed for promoting commerce, art, science, religion, charity or any other useful object registered under the Companies Ordinance entitled to vote at general meetings ; and
- members of kaifong welfare associations entitled to vote at general meetings.
17.DS(CA) responded that as he had pointed out at the last meeting, the Social Welfare FC mainly comprised corporate members of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) entitled to vote at general meetings of the HKCSS, and social workers registered under the Social Workers Registration Ordinance. The Administration did not support Mr CHAN proposal as it would alter the delineation of the electorate for the Social Welfare FC. Mr CHAN Kam-lam was not convinced and pointed out that under the Bill, the Administration had already expanded the former electorate for this FC by including registered social workers.
18.The Legal Adviser enquired about the Administrations view regarding the legislatures authority to define the composition of each of the groups listed in Article 5 of the Specific Method. PGC responded that the Administrations proposal complied with the PCs decision. As he had not examined the Members proposal in that context, he would not be in a position to advise. DS(CA) added that under Article 6 of the Specific Method, for FCs which were composed of individuals with professional qualifications, each individual member should cast one vote. It was therefore appropriate for the Administration to include registered social workers as electors for the Social Welfare FC.
19.In response to the Chairmans enquiry, Mr CHAN Kam-lam said that he aimed to include all kaifong welfare associations as electors for the Social Welfare FC. Mr WONG Siu-yee, Mr YUEN Mo and Ms CHOY So-yuk supported this proposal. DS(CA) pointed out that it was his understanding that kaifong welfare associations would like to be included as electors in the Third Sector of the EC and that Mr CHANs proposal was not what these associations had requested.
Mr Howard YOUNGs proposed amendments to expand the electorate of the Tourism FC
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(02) and 278(02))
20.Mr Howard YOUNG considered that as hotels were part of the tourism industry, members of the Hong Kong Hotels Association and members of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners should be included as electors for the Tourism FC. The two associations concerned supported this proposal. As far as he knew, this proposal would not significantly affect the number of electors for the Tourism FC as most of the members of these two associations were also travel industry members of the Hong Kong Tourist Association which were entitled to vote in the Tourism FC under the Bill.
21.DS(CA) responded that the Administration did not consider the amendment necessary but would not object to Committee stage amendment (CSA) to be moved by Members in this regard.
Ms CHOY So-yuks proposed amendments to expand the electorate of the Textiles and Garment FC
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(02) and 278(07))
22. Ms CHOY So-yuk pointed out that at present, export companies of the textiles industry had to apply for the certificate of Hong Kong origin while import companies had to apply for registration as Textile Traders. She considered that as the former had been included in the list of electors for the Textiles and Garment FC, the latter should also be included. She would move a CSA to this effect. Mr WONG Siu-yee and Dr Charles YEUNG supported the proposal.
23. DS(CA) advised that the Administration was considering this proposal and would provide a response later.
Proposed amendments to expand the electorate of the Information Technology FC by Dr Raymond HO and Ms CHOY So-yuk respectively
(PLC Paper Nos. 274(02), 276(02) and 276(07))
24.Dr Raymond HO proposed to add the Information Technology (IT) Division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers to the list of electors for the Information Technology FC. DS(CA) said that the Administration was looking into the proposal and would provide a response later.
25. DS(CA) said that having considered the views of deputations and Members, the Administration would move a CSA to include members of the Hong Kong Association for Computer Education Ltd, members of the Hong Kong Society of Medical Informatics Ltd and members of the Hong Kong Telemedicine Association in the list of electors for the Information Technology FC. It was therefore not necessary for Ms CHOY So-yuk to move a CSA to this effect.
26.The Chairman referred to previous discussion on the subject and said that some of the professional bodies listed as electors for the Information Technology FC in item 28 of Schedule 1 of the Bill, such as item 28(3) - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc., Hong Kong Section, Computer Chapter and item 28(4) - Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc., Hong Kong Section, Hong Kong Joint Chapter on Circuits and Systems/Communications, were American associations which did not have specific entry requirements on membership, hence it would be difficult to gauge their professional standard. DS(CA) advised that the membership criteria of the professional members listed as electors for the Information Technology FC were of comparable standard. Besides, the professional bodies mentioned were all registered in Hong Kong.
Mr CHAN Kam-lams proposed amendments to the composition of the Second and Third Sectors for EC
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(02) and 278(01))
27.Mr CHAN Kam-lam proposed to transfer the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication Subsector from the Third Sector for EC to the Second Sector and redistribute the number of members in these two sectors. Regarding the Third Sector, Mr CHAN proposed that the number of members for the four subsectors of Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour, Religious, Social Welfare should either be 30, 100, 30, 40 respectively or 40, 80, 40, 40 respectively. Mr Ronald ARCULLI queried why the number of members was not divided evenly among the four subsectors.
28.DS(CA) said that the Administrations proposal on the composition of the EC sectors conformed with the PCs decision. The Administration did not support Mr CHANs proposal.
Proposed amendments to the Fourth Sector for EC by Mr CHAN Kam-lam and Mr Frederick FUNG/Mr Bruce LIU respectively
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(2) 274(02), 278(01) and 276(05))
Mr CHAN Kam-lam considered that all Provisional District Boards (PDBs) should be grouped under one subsector in the Fourth Sector for EC. He proposed to combine Subsector 5 of the Fourth Sector - "Hong Kong and Kowloon PDBs" with Subsector 6 - "New Territories PDBs".
29.DS(CA) advised that the Administration considered it fair and reasonable to place the Hong Kong and Kowloon PDBs and the New Territories PDBs in two separate subsectors.
30.To ensure that each PDB would have its representatives in the Fourth Sector for EC, Mr Bruce LIU proposed to specify that each PDB would have three members in the Fourth Sector, resulting in a total of 54 members for the 18 PDBs. As this figure exceeded the figure of 42 in the Bill by 12, Mr LIU proposed to reduce the number of members of Subsector 4 of the Fourth Sector - "Heung Yee Kuk" from 21 to 20, and that of Subsector 3 - "Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)" from 41 to 30.
31.DS(CA) advised that apart from the ex-officio members and Hong Kong members of the CPPCC, the remaining number of members of the Fourth Sector was divided evenly among the remaining three subsectors. It should not be increased or reduced without justifications.
32.Mr LEE Kai-ming supported Mr Bruce LIUs proposal as an even distribution of members among PDBs could avoid domination by any particular party. Mr CHAN Kam-lam disagreed and opined that Mr LIUs proposal could not prevent any one party from getting a majority of votes. Moreover, he considered that as PDBs varied in size, it would be unfair for all PDBs to have the same number of members on the EC.
33.Mr Bruce LIU reiterated that the rationale of his proposal was to ensure that each PDB would have its representatives in the Fourth Sector for EC. This was similar to the arrangement in the election of the Urban Council(UC) or Regional Council(RC) where each PDB had one representative. Dr TANG Siu-tong pointed out that the EC election was different from election of the UC/RC which had a direct relationship with PDBs.
II. Discussion on other issues
Date of the first meeting of the first term of office of the Legislative Council, procedures for the election of the President and timing for the taking of the Legislative Council Oath by Members
34.The Legal Adviser pointed out that under clause 4(2), the first term of office of the Legislative Council was to begin on 1 July 1998. However, the Bill had not provided for :
- the date of the first meeting of the first term of office of the Legislative Council ;
- the procedures for the election of the President ; and
- the timing for taking of the Legislative Council Oath by Members.
35.Responding to the Chairmans enquiry on the past practice on paragraph 35(a) above, the Legal Adviser explained that Article XXIA(1) of the Royal Instructions stated that "the sessions of the Legislative Council shall commence on such date and end on such date as the Governor shall from time to time appoint by notice published in the Hong Kong Government Gazette,........'. Some members proposed to add a provision in the Bill to the effect that the date of the first meeting of the first term of office of the Legislative Council should be decided by the Chief Executive. Some other members proposed to specify a date in the Bill, e.g. 1 July 1998.
36. On paragraph 35(b) above, Mr Ronald ARCULLI proposed to add a provision in the Bill to the effect that the election of the President would be conducted at the first meeting of the first term of office of the Legislative Council and that a Member should be elected to preside at the election. Some members suggested that reference should be made to the Rules of Procedure of the PLC.
37.DS(CA) undertook to look into the issues set out at paragraph 35 above and provide a response later.
III. Way Forward
Date of resumption of the Second Reading debate of the Bill
38.Whilst appreciating the need for early passage of the Bill, some Members considered it impracticable for the Administration to resume the Second Reading debate of the Bill on 24 September 1997, having regard to the fact that clause-by-clause examination of the Bill had not yet been started. As requested by the Chairman, DS(CA) undertook to consider postponing the date of resumption.
IV. Date of next meeting
39.The next meeting would be held on Thursday, 11 September 1997 at 8:30 am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building.
40.The meeting ended at 11:55 am.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
22 November 1997