Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. 164/96-97

Ref : PLC/HC/4

House Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council
Minutes of the meeting
held at the Main Hall, Huaxia Art Centre, Shenzhen
on Saturday, 26 April 1997 at 11:10 a.m.

Members present:

Dr the Honourable LEONG Che-hung (Chairman)
The Honourable IP Kwok-him (Deputy Chairman)
The Honourable WONG Siu-yee
The Honourable HO Sai-chu
Dr the Honourable HO Chung-tai
The Honourable NG Leung-sing
Prof the Honourable NG Ching-fai
The Honourable LI Kwok-po, David
The Honourable LEE Kai-ming
The Honourable LEE Peng-fei, Allen
The Honourable Mrs TU, Elsie
The Honourable Mrs CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, Selina
The Honourable Mrs LAM, Peggy
The Honourable WU, Henry
The Honourable NGAI Shiu-kit
The Honourable ARCULLI, Ronald
The Honourable YUEN Mo
The Honourable MA Fung-kwok
The Honourable CHEUNG Hon-chung
The Honourable Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
The Honourable LEUNG Chun-ying
The Honourable Mrs LEUNG LAU Yau-fan, Sophie
The Honourable MOK Ying-fan
The Honourable CHAN Choi-hi
The Honourable CHAN Yuen-han
The Honourable CHAN Wing-chan
The Honourable CHAN Kam-lam
The Honourable CHENG Kai-nam
The Honourable FUNG Kin-kee, Frederick
The Honourable WONG Wang-fat, Andrew
Dr the Honourable WONG Yu-hong, Philip
The Honourable WONG Ying-ho, Kennedy
The Honourable YOUNG, Howard
The Honourable YEUNG Chun-kam
The Honourable YEUNG Yiu-chung
The Honourable CHIM Pui-chung
The Honourable LIU Sing-lee, Bruce
The Honourable LAU Kong-wah
The Honourable LAU Wong-fat
The Honourable Mrs LAU Kin-yee, Miriam
The Honourable CHOY Kan-pui
The Honourable CHENG Ming-fun, Paul
The Honourable CHENG Yiu-tong
Dr the Honourable TANG Siu-tong
The Honourable FOK Tsun-ting, Timothy
The Honourable KAN Fook-yee
The Honourable NGAN Kam-chuen
The Honourable LO Suk-ching
Dr the Honourable LAW Cheung-kwok
The Honourable TAM Wai-chu, Maria
The Honourable TAM Yiu-chung

Members absent:

The Honourable TIEN Pei-chun, James
The Honourable CHU Yu-lin, David
The Honourable HO Sing-tin, Edward
The Honourable LI Ka-cheung, Eric
The Honourable TANG Ying-yen, Henry
The Honourable HUI Yin-fat
The Honourable TSANG Yok-sing
The Honourable LAU Hon-chuen, Ambrose

Clerk in attendance:

Ms Pauline NG    Clerk to the House Committee

Staff in attendance:

Mr Arthur CHEUNG    Legal Adviser
Miss Salumi CHAN    Assistant Committee Clerk 2

I.Confirmation of minutes of the 1st meeting held on 12 April 1997
(PLC Paper No. 142/96-97)
     The minutes were confirmed.
II.Matters arising
    (a)Report by the Chairman on his discussion with the President and the Chief Executive's Office on matters relating to Council meetings
         2. The Chairman advised members that he and the Deputy Chairman had arranged to meet the President to discuss on a regular basis the procedural arrangements for matters which would be put to the Council and other matters which would affect the work of the Council. A weekly meeting had also been set up for him and the Deputy Chairman to exchange views with Mr Michael SUEN, the Secretary for Policy Co-ordination of the Chief Executive's Office on matters raised at House Committee meetings.

    (b)House Rules
         3. The Chairman sought members' views on whether House Rules should be formulated to set out internal guidelines for the conduct of business in the Council and in committees. Members considered that there was such a need and suggested that the Working Group on Rules of Procedure should be asked to draw up the draft House Rules for the House Committee's consideration. Ms Maria TAM, Deputy Convenor of the Working Group, agreed that the matter would be taken up by the Working Group.

    (c) Election of chairman and deputy chairman of committees
         4. As the House Rules were not available yet, the Chairman invited members to discuss the arrangement for the calling of the first meeting of committees for the purpose of electing the chairman and deputy chairman of the committees. Members decided that the clerk should determine the date of the first meeting and issue the notice. The clerk should also be responsible for conducting the election until the chairman was elected.

    (d)Scheduling of meetings
         5. Members agreed to the following time slots for the scheduling of meetings of the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC):
Fridays:   8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Saturdays:   9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.Council meetings
    2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.House Committee meetings
    4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
    7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
    9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
    2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.
    7:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
         6. In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI's suggestion, members agreed that depending on needs, individual committees could decide to hold their meetings at other times, e.g. during other weekdays. However, in determining the date and time of meetings, committees should ensure that there was no problem with the quorum.

     (e) Consultation Document on "Civil Liberties and Social Order"
         7. The Chairman reported that the Secretary of Justice had responded to members' request and briefed Members on the Consultation Document on 26 April. He invited members to consider the manner to take the matter forward. He drew members' attention to the suggestions raised at the previous meeting.
         8. Most members were of the view that since the draft legislation would be put to the Council soon and a Bills Committee could be formed to study the bill in detail after introduction, the setting up of a subcommittee at this stage would serve little purpose. They were more inclined to have a motion debate so that Members could have a chance to express views on the subject. In this respect, members noted that Mr LIU Sing-lee had already submitted a notice to the President of his intention to move a motion at the Council meeting on 10 May 1997. Mr LIU Sing-lee expressed his wish to advance the motion debate to 3 May should the relevant bill be introduced to the Council on 10 May, to prevent the risk that his motion would become abortive because of the "rule of anticipation". Members generally agreed that there were merits in having a debate on the subject, and therefore endorsed in principle that leave from the President could be sought to advance the motion debate if there was such a need. Nevertheless, members were also concerned about the practice of allowing little or no time for Members to move amendments. Members were aware that before 1 July 1997, the need to seek the President's permission to dispense with the notice period would be frequent, but as far as practicable, Members should not be deprived of their rights and opportunity to move amendments.
         9. Members decided that the Chief Executive's Office be sounded out on the exact date on which the bill would be introduced. If the bill would definitely be coming before the Council on 10 May, members had no objection that the President's leave be sought for Mr LIU's motion be debated on 3 May.

III.Business arising from previous Council meetings
    (a) Legal Adviser's report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)

    (i) Holidays (1997 and 1998) Bill
    (PLC Paper No. 143/96-97)
         10. Legal Adviser informed members that the legal and drafting aspects of the Bill were in order subject to minor committee stage amendments.
         11. The Chairman invited members to consider whether a Bills Committee was necessary. Members noted that the substance of the Bill was basically straight-forward and no representations on the Bill had been received. Members however noted that Mr MOK Ying-fan intended to move amendments to the Bill by adding additional statutory and public holidays. Some members indicated that as there was a need to speed up the processing of the Bill so that Council's time could be used for other more controversial issues, no Bills Committee needed to be formed. The proposal of whether a Bills Committee should be formed was put to the vote. Five Members voted for and 36 against. The Committee decided that no Bills Committee should be formed.
         12. As for the deadline for moving amendments, the Chairman advised that he would consult the Chief Executive's Office on the date for the resumption of the second reading debate and would inform members accordingly.
        (Post-meeting note: The Director, Chief Executive's Office gave notice on 29 April 1997 to resume Second Reading debate on the Bill on 10 May 1997.)

(b) Procedure for the election of the chairman and members
of the Committee on Members' Interests

(PLC Paper No. 144/96-97)
         13. Members endorsed the proposed procedure outlined in the paper and agreed that the election would take place at the House Committee meeting on 10 May 1997. Members noted that the seven members to be elected should be broadly representative, and composed of a balanced composition, of Members of different parties and those who did not belong to any affiliations.

IV.Business for the Council meeting on 3 May 1997
    (a) Bills
         14. Members noted that no notice had so far been received on the first and second readings of bills and resumption of debate on the second reading of bills.

    (b) Motions
         15. Members noted that Mrs Selina CHOW had given notice to move a motion to adopt the English version of the Rules of Procedure of the PLC and the deadline to move amendment to the motion was 26 April 1997.

V.Business for the Council meeting on 10 May 1997

    (a) Bills
         16. Members noted that no notice had so far been received on the first and second readings of bills and resumption of debate on the second reading of bills.

    (b) Motions
         17. The Chairman advised that if Mr Bruce LIU's motion on the Consultation Document on "Civil Liberties and Social Order" was to take place on 10 May 1997, the deadline for moving amendments would be 3 May. As Mr LIU had revised the wording of his original motion, the Secretariat would circulate the revised motion to all Members.
(Post-meeting note : Mr Bruce LIU's revised motion was circulated to all Members vide PLC Paper No. 161/96-97 after the meeting.)
         18. Members also agreed that for the purpose of this debate, the House Committee should recommend to the President that other than the mover of the motion who could speak up to 15 minutes in total for moving his motion and giving his final reply, all Members including the mover of an amendment to the motion, shall only speak for no more than 7 minutes. The same time limit would apply in the case of a joint debate, and the time limit for the mover of the motion to respond to the amendment(s) should be 5 minutes.

VI.Any other business
        (a) Consultation paper on the provision of secretariat support to the Provisional Legislative Council on and after 1 July 1997
(PLC Paper No. 145/96-97)
         19. Mr IP Kwok-him, Convenor of the Working Group on Administrative Matters, introduced the consultation paper and explained the arrangements regarding the naming of the Commission and the Secretariat as well as the continued employment of the staff currently servicing the PLC. He invited members to give views on the paper in writing.

    (b)Matters arising from the Budget 1997-98
         20. Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the Finance Committee, said that from his discussion with the Chief Executive's Office, his understanding was that the Budget for 1997-98 would not be coming in the form of a bill. The initial thinking was that a motion would be moved to seek the Council's support on the Budget and the Finance Committee would examine the Budget in detail before the Council debated on the matter. As new Members might require a more in-depth briefing on the Budget beforehand, Mr ARCULLI invited Members to consider whether the briefing and meeting of the Finance Committee should take place before the moving of the motion or after. If it was decided that the motion should be moved first, there would be a need to adjourn the debate on the motion and refer the matter to the Finance Committee.
         21. The Chairman advised members that as far as time-table was concerned, if the motion was to be moved on 3 May, the Finance Committee could meet on 24/25 May and report back to the Council on 7 June. Resumption of debate could also take place at the same Council meeting.
         22. Members deliberated on whether it was necessary to examine the Budget before 1 July 1997. After considering the functions of the PLC as provided in the resolutions of the Preparatory Committee, members agreed that there was such a need and it was more appropriate for the Chief Executive to first move the motion. Members also agreed that the Chairman of the House Committee should move a motion without notice at the same Council meeting to adjourn the debate and also move to refer the matter to the Finance Committee. The briefing on the Budget should take place on 3 May.

    (c) Daily despatch service
    (PLC Paper No. 149/96-97)
         23. The Chairman referred to Mr CHAN Kam-lam's letter about the need to improve the current daily despatch service and advised members that it was not practicable to require the PLC Secretariat to take up the despatch service in view of staff constraints. The Clerk informed members that some alternative arrangements were being looked into to ensure that the Secretariat would know at the end of each day which deliveries had not reached Members as scheduled. She would also explore if those seven Members who were currently receiving despatch on the following day would be able to get the despatch on the same day.
         24. Members agreed that as the problems actually stemmed from the operations of the courier company, the Secretariat should not be given more work because of some individual cases. The Clerk undertook to look into those cases and find out how the problems could be solved.
         25. The meeting ended at 1:00 p.m.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
27 April 1997