PLC Paper No. LS 109

Paper for the House Committee Meeting
of the Provisional Legislative Council
on 27 February 1998

Legal Service Division Report on
Adaptation of Laws (Nationality Related Matters) Bill

Object(s) of the Bill

  1. To introduce necessary adaptations to references to "British national", "commonwealth citizen" and similar expressions in the laws of Hong Kong to bring them into conformity with the Basic Law and with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR);

  2. to make supplementary provisions for right to land in Hong Kong enjoyed by former permanent residents.

PLC Brief Reference

2. PLC Brief dated 12 February 1998 and issued by the Security Bureau (no reference given).

Date of First Reading

3. 25 February 1998.


4. Substantive amendments proposed by this Bill are contained in the two schedules to the Bill.

5. Schedule 1 contains proposed amendments to 16 Ordinances. These amendments are mainly textual in nature and are for the purpose of adapting references of "British nationals", "British citizen", "British dependent territories citizen", "Commonwealth citizen" and "Commonwealth country", which have not been dealt with in the Hong Kong Reunification Ordinance.

6. Schedule 2 contains proposed amendments to the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115). These amendments are to provide for former Hong Kong permanent residents’ (HKPR) "right to land". These former HKPRs are conferred the "right to land" status upon ceasing to enjoy right of abode pursuant to the Immigration (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 1997 (Ordinance No. 122 of 1997) (Amendment Ordinance).

7. Under section 7A of the Immigration Ordinance (added by the Amendment Ordinance which came into operation on 1 July 1997), a person who had the right of abode in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR but loses the right after the establishment of the HKSAR are given the right to land.

8. Circumstances under which former HKPRs may lose their right of abode are provided in Schedule 1 of the Ordinance as amended by the Amendment Ordinance. Some amendments are proposed to Schedule 1 by this Bill, but they are technical in nature and are not intended to change the existing policy.

9. The amendments in Schedule 2 of the Bill are to provide in more detailed form the nature of "right to land" and which of the existing provisions in the Ordinance would apply to people with "right to land" status.

10. Clarifications are being sought with the Administration on the legal implications of the proposed amendment to section 49 of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap. 179) which relates to declarations of legitimacy by a court.

11. Clause 1(2) of the Bill provides for retrospective effect to 1 July 1997 subject to non-application to criminality. This approach is same as other adaptation of laws bills.

12. Clause 1(3) provides for a mechanism to allow the Secretary for Security to appoint a different commencement date for amendments to the Registration of Persons Ordinance (items 4 and 5 of Schedule 1). This is necessary in order to enable the Immigration Department to complete processing outstanding cases of application for permanent identity cards by British National (Overseas) Passport applicants.

Public Consultation

13. According to the PLC Brief, the Administration considers that public consultation is not necessary.

Consultation with Panel

14. No consultation with any PLC Panel has been carried out.


15. Subject to clarification of one minor point in relation to the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (see paragraph 10 above), Legal Adviser is of the view that the Bill is in order. However, since nationality related matters are by their nature of interest to the public, members may wish to set up a Bills Committee to examine the practical implications of the Bill.

Prepared by

MA Yiu-tim, Jimmy
Legal Adviser
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
25 February 1998