Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2) 42

Ref : PLC/HC/4

House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council
Minutes of the special meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber at 12:25 pm on Wednesday, 9 July 1997

Members present :

Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Hon IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon LO Suk-ching
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Members absent :

Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Justina LAMClerk to the House Committee

Staff in attendance :

Mr Ricky C C FUNG, JPSecretary General
Mr Jimmy MALegal Adviser
Mr LAW Kam-sang, JPDeputy Secretary General
Mr LEE Yu-sang Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
Ms Pauline NGAssistant Secretary General 1
Ms LEUNG Siu-kum Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
Ms Kathleen LAUChief Public Information Officer
Mrs Betty LEUNGChief Assistant Secretary (2)3
Mrs Percy MAChief Assistant Secretary (2)5
Mrs Eleanor CHOW Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8

I.Report of the Subcommittee on Immigration (Amendment) (No. 5) Bill 1997

    Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Chairman of the Subcommittee, made a verbal report to members, highlighting the deliberations of the Subcommittee on the retrospective effect of the Bill, its compatibility with the Basic Law and details of the Certificate of Entitlement (C of E) Scheme. He said that the Subcommittee had agreed to support the Administration's proposal that the Bill received three readings at the Council meeting that afternoon. He added that the Administration would move some Committee Stage amendments (CSAs) which were either technical in nature or would improve the drafting of the Bill (copy of his speaking note is attached in Appendix). The Legal Adviser referred members to a marked up copy of the Bill tabled at the meeting.

  1. Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that Members of the Liberal Party had reservations about the retrospective effect of the Bill because retrospective legislation would only be enacted in exceptional circumstances and would not apply to criminal offence. He did not consider it necessary to provide the Director of Immigration with retrospective power to remove eligible children who claimed right of abode (ROA) and who had entered Hong Kong before the date of enactment of the Bill. In any event, these children would have to establish their status after enactment of the Bill. Mr ARCULLI said that he would move a CSA to delete the relevant clause. In response to Mr Ambrose LAU, Mr ARCULLI said that if his proposed CSA was agreed to, eligible children who had entered Hong Kong illegally before enactment of the Bill could not be repatriated. The Legal Adviser pointed out that persons claiming to have ROA in Hong Kong under Article 24(2)(3) of the Basic Law would not be able to exercise their ROA under the Bill unless they held a valid travel document issued to them with a valid C of E affixed on their valid travel documents. It would be difficult for these children to obtain a valid travel document from China if they remained in Hong Kong. Mr ARCULLI's CSA might lead to operational difficulties and might give rise to cause for challenge in court that the Bill was in contravention of the Basic Law.

  2. Mr CHAN Choi-hi said that although he had left the Subcommittee's meeting early, he had indicated at the meeting that he objected to the Bill being given three readings at one meeting.

  3. Mr Bruce LIU and Mr Andrew WONG said that they were considering moving separate CSAs to the Bill.

  4. In view of the number of CSAs to be moved by individual Members, members agreed that the CSAs should be submitted to the Secretariat by 1:30 pm on that day and distributed to Members before the Council meeting. Members also agreed that the Subcommittee should hold a meeting at 1:30 pm for members who would move CSAs to explain the effect of the amendments to other interested members.

II. Working Group on Rules of Procedure
(PLC Paper No CB(2)27/97-98 tabled at the meeting)
  1. Mrs Selina CHOW reported on the deliberations of the Working Group as contained in the report.

    (Post-meeting note : The word “而” in paragraph 5(c) of Chinese version of the report should read “對”.)

  2. Members agreed that the two motions on amendments to the Rules of Procedure and formation of Panels should be moved at the Council meeting on 16 July 1997 and recommended that the President's approval be sought to waive the notice requirement. In anticipation of the Council's approval of the proposed amendments to Rules 75 and 77, members endorsed the terms of reference of the Panels. They also recommended that a total of 18 Panels should be set up, and in the event that a Panel could not be formed due to the lack of requisite membership, the relevant issues raised could be taken up by any existing Panel as appropriate or could be referred to the House Committee for a decision. The House Committee could refer the issues raised to a particular Panel or set up a subcommittee to study the issues raised.

  3. In response to Mr Andrew WONG, the Chairman said that a previous House Committee meeting had endorsed the principle that Panels should be placed under the Council, hence the terms of reference and number of Panels should be approved by the Council by way of a motion.

  4. To enable Panels to operate as soon as practicable, members agreed that all election meetings of Panels should be held before the recess of the Council on 23 July 1997. They also agreed to Mr Eric LI's suggestion that Members should be advised of the latest enrollment position before the closing date.
III. Legislative Provision (Suspension of Operation) Bill 1997

  1. The Chairman said that in view of members' objection to completing three readings of the Bill that afternoon, the Administration had advised that it would not move a motion under the Rules of Procedure not to adjourn the Second Reading debate on the Bill. However, in view of the urgency of the Bill, the Administration hoped that the Second Reading debate on the Bill could be resumed on 16 July 1997. Should members decide to study the Bill in detail and in order to expedite scrutiny, the Administration requested members to consider setting up a subcommittee or Bills Committee at this meeting, so that it could meet urgently and if possible report back to the House Committee meeting on 11 July 1997. The Chairman sought members' view on the proposal.

  2. Noting that the House Committee had agreed at its special meeting held on 8 July 1997 that the Bill should go through the normal legislative process and after discussion, members agreed to set up a Bills Committee which should only commence work after the Bill was introduced into the Council on 9 July and referred to the House Committee on 11 July 1997. Meanwhile, the Secretariat could issue a circular to invite members to signify membership for the Bills Committee.

  3. On Mr Eric LI's suggestion that the seven Ordinances should be dealt with separately, the Chairman said that it was a matter for the Bills Committee to consider. Mr James TIEN supported the Administration's proposal and suggested that the Bills Committee should only consider whether the operation of the seven Ordinances should be suspended pending a review to be conducted by the Administration, and should not study the detailed provisions of the Ordinances.

  4. The meeting ended at 1:05 pm
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
15 July 1997