Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2) 620

Ref : PLC/HC/4

House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the 25th meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber at 4:02 pm on Friday, 14 November 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
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry WU
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon CHAN Choi-hi
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon CHENG Kai-nam
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon KAN Fook-yee
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk

Members absent :

Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Allen LEE, JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon LO Suk-ching
Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Justina LAM
Clerk to the House Committee

Staff in attendance :

Mr Ricky C C FUNG, JP
Secretary General

Mr Jimmy MA
Legal Adviser

Mr LAW Kam-sang, JP
Deputy Secretary General

Mr LEE Yu-sang
Senior Assistant Legal Adviser

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Assistant Secretary General 3

Ms Bernice WONG
Assistant Legal Adviser 1

Miss Anita HO
Assistant Legal Adviser 2

Mr Stephen LAM
Assistant Legal Adviser 4

Mrs Anna LO
Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)

Ms Kathleen LAU
Chief Public Information Officer

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5

Mr LAW Wing-lok
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)5

Mrs Betty LEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (3)1

Mrs Eleanor CHOW
Senior Assistant Secretary (2)8

I.Confirmation of the minutes of the 24th meeting held on 7 November 1997
(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 574)

1.The minutes were confirmed.

II.Matters arising

Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration

(a) Introduction of legislation into Council

2.The Chairman said that the Administration would present the draft subsidiary legislation on the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) System before the end of November 1997. The Subcommittee on the MPF System had scheduled three more meetings for the Administration to brief Subcommittee members on the background of the System. As previously agreed by members, the Subcommittee would re-open its membership before it proceeded to scrutinize the draft subsidiary legislation.

3.The Chairman added that the Administration would introduce the Provident Fund Schemes Legislation (Amendment) Bill 1997 on 26 November 1997. The Bill would be considered at the House Committee meeting on 28 November 1997.

(b) Employment (Amendment) (No. 5) Bill 1997

4.Regarding the Administration's withdrawal of the notice for the Bill to resume its Second Reading debate on 5 November 1997, the Chairman said that the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) had explained that the Administration was taking stock of Members' views and therefore decided to defer the resumption of Second Reading debate to a later date.

Chairman 5.Miss CHAN Yuen-han expressed her concern over the delay. The Chairman said that he would reflect members' view to CS.

(c) Proposal to relocate Members' offices

6.The Chairman said that he had conveyed the House Committee's objection to the proposed relocation of Members' offices in Central Government Offices, West Wing, to Murray Building. CS suggested that the Director of Administration should meet Members to explain the reasons for the proposed relocation.

III.Business arising from previous Council meetings

Legal Service Division's report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 12 November 1997 (gazetted on 7 and 10 November 1997)
(PLC Paper No. LS 46)

7.Referring to the 24 items of subsidiary legislation covered in the paper, the Legal Adviser said that he would report on these items under five separate groups to facilitate members' consideration.

(a) 13 items dealing with fee and charges

8.The Legal Adviser said that there were 10 items dealing with revision of fees payable to the Director of Agriculture and Fisheries and one item involving the increases made under the Builders' Lifts and Tower Platforms (Safety) Ordinance. With the exception of two items, the majority of the proposed fee increases were 7% or less.

9.Another item concerned the Television (Royalty and Licence Fees) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 1997 which dealt with the increase in the annual licence fee for a commercial television broadcasting licence from $1,843,000 to $3,944,000. The increase was to implement the second phase of the cost recovery programme which aimed to achieve full cost recovery by 2001.

10.A further item dealt with the introduction of a new class of authorization and annual fees for captive insurers under the Insurance Companies Ordinance. The Legal Adviser pointed out that both types of fees were set at a level sufficient to achieve full cost recovery.

11.Referring to the Television (Royalty and Licence Fees) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation, the Chairman commented that the increase was quite significant. He added that the cost recovery programme was supported by the former Legislative Council after full discussion of the issues involved.

12.Mrs Selina CHOW opined that there would not be the need for a subcommittee to be formed to study the regulation unless the television stations concerned raised objection to the proposed increase. She suggested that the House Committee defer its decision on the formation of a subcommittee until the next meeting on 28 November 1997. Members agreed.

13.Members raised no queries on the other items of subsidiary legislation under this group.

(b) Two items dealing with increase in tunnel tolls

14.The Legal Adviser said that the first item under this group dealt with the increase in the return tunnel toll for taxi passengers using the Eastern Harbour Crossing and the Western Harbour Crossing from $10 to $15 and the imposition of an additional fare of $15 for taxi passengers using the Tai Lam Tunnel. The second item concerned an Amendment Notice made under the Eastern Harbour Crossing Ordinance to vary the Eastern Harbour Road Tunnel tolls pursuant to an arbitration award.

15.Mrs Miriam LAU said that members of the Panel on Transport had divided views as to whether the Administration's proposal for a standard return toll of $15 for using the three cross harbour tunnels or the Transport Advisory Board's recommendation of imposing a toll of $15 for using the Eastern Harbour Crossing and the Western Harbour Crossing should be supported.

16.Dr Raymond HO said that he was in favour of the Transport Advisory Board's recommendation which was endorsed by the Executive Council. He was of the view that there was no need for a subcommittee to be formed to study the subsidiary legislation. Members agreed.

(c) Four items dealing with Amendment Regulations made under the Buildings Ordinance

17.The Legal Adviser said that the four Amendment Regulations were made as a result of the enactment of the Buildings (Amendment) Ordinance 1996 to ensure greater safety of building works and street works. He drew members' attention to paragraph 10 of the PLC Brief which set out the concerns of the professional institutions and the Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong about certain provisions in the Amendment Regulations. He added that the Legal Service Division was still scrutinizing the Amendment Regulations and would provide a further report should there be any problem.

18.Mr Edward HO said that he would consult the professional institutions on the Amendment Regulations. He suggested and members agreed that a decision on the need to form a subcommittee be deferred to the next meeting on 28 November 1997.Mr Edward HO

(d) Four items dealing with Amendment Order and Notices

19.The Legal Adviser said that the four items comprised an Amendment Order made under the Import and Export Ordinance, a Declaration of Historical Building Notice made under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance, and two Commencement Notices made under the Buildings (Amendment) Ordinance 1996. The legal and drafting aspects of the four items were in order.

20.Mr MA Fung-kwok enquired why the Import and Export (General) Regulations (Amendment of Schedules) (No. 2) Order 1997 did not have retrospective effect on optical disc manufacturing equipment imported into the HKSAR before the commencement of the Order. The Chairman suggested that the Legal Adviser discuss the matter with Mr MA and seek clarification from the Administration if necessary. 21.Members raised no queries on the other items under this group.LA

(e) One item dealing with regulation made under the Electoral Affairs Commission Ordinance

22.The Legal Adviser said that the item in question was the Electoral Affairs Commission (Registration) (Electors for Functional Constituencies) (Voters for Subsectors) (Members of Election Committee) (Legislative Council) Regulation which was gazetted on 10 November 1997. As agreed by the House Committee, this Regulation was also being studied by the Subcommittee on the Electoral Affairs Commission (Registration of Electors) (Geographical Constituencies) (Legislative Council) Regulation under the chairmanship of Mr IP Kwok-him.

23.Mr IP Kwok-him said that the Subcommittee had held one meeting at which the Administration briefed members about the broad principles of the two Regulations. The Subcommittee would commence detailed scrutiny of the two Regulations at its next meeting.

24.The Chairman said that more subsidiary legislation relating to the Legislative Council Election in 1998 would soon be presented to the Council. He suggested and members agreed that the Subcommittee should be responsible for studying all election-related subsidiary legislation. Members also agreed that in view of the expanded terms of reference of the Subcommittee, membership of the Subcommittee should be re-opened on a one-off basis to enable members to join the Subcommittee.

IIIa. Further business for the Council meeting on 19 November 1997

25.The Chairman said that as Mr MOK Ying-fan had given notice to withdraw his question after the expiry of the deadline for giving notice of questions, only five questions seeking oral replies were therefore scheduled for the Council meeting on 19 November 1997.

IV.Business for the Council meeting on 26 November 1997

(a) Questions

(PLC Paper No. CB(3) 340)

26.The Chairman said that 20 questions (6 oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.

(b) Bills - 1st and 2nd Readings

(i) Cross-Harbour Tunnel (Cross-Harbour Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997
(ii) Tate's Cairn Tunnel (Tate's Cairn Tunnel Regulations) (Amendment) Ordinance 1997 (Amendment) Bill 1997 (iii)Provident Fund Schemes Legislation (Amendment) Bill 1997

27.The Chairman said that the above three Bills would be introduced into the Council on 26 November 1997 and considered by the House Committee on 28 November 1997.

(c) Bills - resumption of debate on 2nd Reading, Committee Stage and 3rd Reading

28.No notice had been received.

(d) Members' motions

(i) Motion on " Review of Hong Kong's financial management system "

29.Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen.

(ii) Motion on 'sale of Flats to Sitting Tenants Scheme "

30.Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr Frederick FUNG Kin-kee.

31.The Chairman advised members that the deadline for giving notice of amendments, if any, to the above motions was 19 November 1997. The normal speaking time limits would apply.

V.Advance information on motions for the Council meeting on 3 December 1997

(a) Motion on " Promoting Hong Kong's tourism industry "

32.Members noted that Mr Howard YOUNG had given notice to move the above motion.

33.Mr Howard YOUNG said that he would try his best to couch the wording of the motion in neutral terms to enable Members to freely express their views on the subject matter of the motion which encompassed a wide range of topics. He added that he would circulate to Members some 20 different topics on which he hoped that Members would express their views in the debate.

(b) Motion on " Youth policy "

34.Members noted that Mr Kennedy WONG Ying-ho had given notice to move the above motion.

35.The Chairman said that the deadlines for giving notice of, and amendments if any, to the above motions were 18 November 1997 and 26 November 1997 respectively.


(a) Position report on Bills Committees/Subcommittees

(PLC Paper No. CB(2) 579)

36.The Chairman said that there were two Subcommittees and one Bills Committee in action.

(b) Report of the Subcommittee on Resolution under section 29I(2) of the Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117)
(PLC Paper No. CB(1) 479)

37.Mr HO Sai-chu reported on the deliberations of the Subcommittee in the absence of its Chairman and Deputy Chairman. Having highlighted the major issues deliberated by the Subcommittee as set out in the paper, he said that the Subcommittee was unable to arrive at a consensus on the Administration's proposal for extending the validity period of the measure to charge stamp duty on all agreements for sale of residential property for a further two years until the end of 1999. He added that a Subcommittee member would move an amendment to shorten the period of extension to six months.

38.The Chairman informed members that the Administration intended to move the Resolution at the Council meeting on 26 November 1997. In this connection, the Administration would like to seek the House Committee's support for a recommendation to be made to the President to waive 12-day notice requirement under Rule 29(1) of the Rules of Procedure.

39.In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, the Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice of amendments to the Resolution would be 19 November 1997 if the President agreed to waive the notice requirement. Members supported the Administration's request.

VII..Any other business

(a) Question Time

40.The Chairman said that the Question Time at the last Council meeting lasted over two hours. He said that the President would welcome any views or suggestions from the House Committee on the duration of Question Time.

41.The Chairman said that Members should avoid asking multi-barrelled questions or giving long introduction before asking a question. He added that supplementary questions should be short and to the point, and that he would also ask the Administration to give concise answers to Members' questions.

42.The Chairman suggested that as a general rule, the duration of Question Time should be limited to one to one and a half hour at the most depending on the number of items of business on the agenda of a Council meeting. He further suggested that Members who asked fewer questions than other Members, or Members who had particular interest in the subject matter concerned should be given priority in asking supplementary questions.

43.Mr Ambrose LAU said that he was not in favour of the President giving priority according to whether a subject matter was of particular interest to a Member because it would be very difficult for the President to make such a judgement.

44.A few members were of the view that the Rules of Procedure and the House Rules governing the asking of questions should be applied more strictly by the President. The Chairman said that he would convey members' views to the President.Chairman

(b) Debate on motions

45.The Chairman said that there had been occasions where Members of the same political party were asked to speak one after the other which would not be conducive to generating a good debate. He asked members to give their views as to whether the existing practice of informing Members of the speaking order should be dispensed with so that the President could freely alter the speaking order as she saw fit.

46.Mr Edward HO said that allowing Members of different political parties to speak by turn and notifying Members concerned of their speaking order were two separate issues. He was in favour of the existing arrangement whereby Members were informed of their turn to speak. The President could still change the speaking order whenever she considered necessary.

47.The Secretary General explained that as a general rule, the President would invite Members of different political groups or Members without any political affiliations to speak by turn. As regards the speaking order, the Clerk would normally inform the next three Members who would be invited by the President to speak. Members agreed that the existing practice should continue.

48.The meeting ended at 4:52 pm

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
19 November 1997