LC Paper No. CB(2)2869/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB2/BC/16/98
Legislative Council Bills Committee on
Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 1999
Minutes of 13th meeting
held on Wednesday, 12 May 1999 at 8:30 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP (Chairman)
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Members Absent :
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Christine LOH
Hon Bernard CHAN
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon YEUNG Sum
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Public Officers Attending :
Clerk in Attendance :
- Mr Robin IP
- Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs
- Miss Shirley YUNG
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (4)
- Mr Bassanio SO
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (5)
- Mr James O'NEIL
- Deputy Solicitor General (Constitutional)
- Ms Phyllis KO
- Acting Deputy Principal Government Counsel (Elections)
Staff in Attendance :
- Mrs Percy MA
- Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 3
- Mr Jimmy MA, JP
- Legal Adviser
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mrs Eleanor CHOW
- Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 7
I. Date of next meetings
Members agreed to schedule three more meetings on 21 May 1999 at 10:45 am, 24 May 1999 at 2:30 pm and 31 May 1999 at 8:30 am.
II. Administration's responses to points raised on 22 and 27 April by Members of the Bills Committee
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 1854/98-99(03))
Item 1 - Election Committee (EC) under Annexes I and II of the Basic Law
|2. Members noted that the issue was discussed at the last meeting and the Administration was requested to respond to members' query on whether the EC for the second term LegCo referred to in Annex II of the Basic Law and the EC for selection of the Chief Executive (CE) in 2002 which had a term of office of five years and referred to in Annex I of the Basic Law were the same or not.
Item 2 - Statistics on EC subsector elections
3. Members noted the reply in Annex I to the paper.
4. Noting that the turnout rate of the Catering subsector election in 1998 was only 11.62%, Mr LEE Kai-ming asked the Administration the measures it would take to improve the turnout rate in the 2000 LegCo election, if the proposed Catering functional constituency (FC) was established. Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (DS for CA) responded that the Administration would carry out a major voter registration drive in early 2000 and a publicity campaign to promote the election in mid-2000.
Item 3 - Composition of EC
Excess seats arising from ex-officio members of EC
5. Ms Emily LAU asked about the procedure for dealing with the excess seats that might arise from Members of LegCo and the local deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) declining registration as ex-officio members of the EC.
6. DS for CA explained that the Legislative Council Ordinance (LCO) provided for ex-officio members of the EC who were also electors of FC be given the choice to vote between EC and FC to which they belonged. If an ex-officio member of the EC had declined to be registered as an EC member so as to retain his vote in the FC, then in accordance with the principle that no electors should have more than two votes in a LegCo election, he would not be put on the register of EC members and thus ceased to have a right to vote in the EC. Principal Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (4) (PAS for CA(4)) supplemented that in order to protect the electorate size of the EC, section 1(10) and (11) in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the LCO provided that any unused quota of ex-officio seats of EC should be transferred to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) subsector first and then to the Provisional District Boards (to be renamed as District Councils) subsectors.
7. Miss Cyd HO asked about the rationale for allocating excess seats to the CPPCC subsector before the District Councils subsector. DS for CA replied that there was a total of 151 Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the CPPCC and 113 of them had registered as eligible electors in the subsector election. Given that the Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the CPPCC were allocated with 41 seats in EC only, as compared to 63 seats for Heung Yee Kuk and the Provisional District Boards, it was reasonable that the unused quota be allocated to them first. He urged that LegCo Members should refrain from declining registration in the EC in order to minimise the number of excess seats. The Chairman recalled that the former Bills Committee set up to study the Legislative Council Bill in 1997 supported the Administration's proposal of allocating excess seats to the Hong Kong members of the National Committee of the CPPCC first, on the ground that excess seats, if any, could not be divided evenly among the Provisional District Boards and the Heung Yee Kuk subsectors.
8. In response to members, DS for CA said that Members of the LegCo and the local deputies to the NPC would normally be registered as ex-officio members of the EC. Section 1(9) in Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the LCO stipulated that an ex-officio member who was registered as an elector in an FC might, by giving written notice to the Electoral Registration Officer, decline registration as a member of the EC. If an ex-officio member of the EC was not registered as an elector in any FC, he could not decline registration as a member of the EC. Ms Cyd HO questioned the basis for imposing such a restriction. The Chairman remarked that a LegCo Member who was not satisfied with the electoral arrangement might choose not to vote at the EC election, or consider introducing an amendment to the Bill to enable LegCo Members to withdraw as members of the EC.
|9. Mr Andrew WONG pointed out that there was no legal basis for the existing arrangement to allocate any unused quota of EC seats arising from overlapping membership of both the LegCo and the NPC, as it was not expressly stated in law that such a person was only entitled to one vote. DS for CA replied that section 1(10) stipulated that if the aggregate of the persons who were ex-officio members was less than 96, the difference was to be added to the number of members allocated to the CPPCC subsector. The number of ex-officio members would be less than 96 only when there was duplication of membership or an ex-officio member had declined registration as an EC elector in order to vote in an FC. The Chairman suggested and the Administration undertook to consider whether it was necessary to improve the drafting of the relevant provisions.
10. The Chairman asked how the 40 seats were allocated to the six bodies of the religious subsector. DS for CA explained that section 3(1) in Part 2 of Schedule 2 provided that each designated body might nominate a number of persons selected by it as members representing the religious subsector. Each designated body could use a method that it considered appropriate to select its nominees. Given that the 40 seats could not be divided evenly among the six bodies, the bodies concerned would resolve among themselves the number of seats to be assigned to each body. In accordance with section 2(2) in Part 2 of Schedule 2, the CE in Council might, by order published in the Gazette, distribute the number of members allocated to the religious subsector among the designated bodies. PAS for CA (4) supplemented that in the 1998 LegCo election, the 40 seats for the religious subsector were distributed as follows -
- Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong - 7 seats;
- Chinese Muslim Cultural and Fraternal Association - 7 seats;
- Hong Kong Christian Council - 7 seats;
- The Hong Kong Toaist Association - 6 seats;
- The Confucian Academy - 7 seats; and
- The Hong Kong Buddhist Association - 6 seats.
11. Ms Emily LAU asked that in the event that the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Christian Council decided not to take part in the 2000 EC election as reported in the press, whether amendment would be made to the composition of the religious subsector. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong asked about the role played by the Government in case of disputes among the six designated bodies.
12. DS for CA replied that the Administration was discussing the matter with the two bodies concerned and would keep members informed of the progress. Some members of the religious subsector had made certain suggestions on the procedure for selecting their representatives and the Administration was currently considering these suggestions. He assured members that the majority of the members of the religious subsector was satisfied with the arrangement in the 1998 LegCo election. He undertook to revert to members if any legislative amendments to the relevant provisions were required.
Item 4 - LegCo Members as ex-officio members of the EC
13. Referring to the Administration's reply, Ms Emily LAU asked about the basis for the proposal in the Bill that Members of the LegCo holding office on 30 June 2000 were eligible to become ex-officio members of the EC. PAS for CA (4) responded that the function of the EC was to elect LegCo Members. In view of the time gap, it was necessary for LegCo Members of the pervious term to become ex-officio members of the EC and to elect Members of the next LegCo term. Mr NG Leung-sing considered the arrangement acceptable.
|14. While Mr Andrew WONG generally agreed with the arrangement, he suggested that the Administration should provide expressly in the Bill that when there were no incumbent LegCo Members, the persons holding office as LegCo Members during the previous term should be deemed to be ex-officio members of the EC. The Chairman supported the suggestion and added that the same arrangement should apply to other subsectors of the EC. The Administration undertook to consider Mr WONG's suggestion.
Item 5 - Termination of election proceedings
15. Members noted that in response to the Bills Committee, the Administration had agreed to delete the relevant provisions which allowed the Returning Officers (RO) of the geographical constituency (GC) elections to add the names of surplus nominees to the relevant list of candidates, when they came to know that a candidate on a list had been disqualified or had died.
16. DS for CA briefed members on the proposed arrangements under the new clauses 42A and 46A and the existing arrangements under the LCO in respect of termination of election proceedings (Annex II to the paper). He highlighted two major changes as follows -
- Under the existing LCO, if a validly nominated candidate died or had become disqualified after the close of nomination but before close of polling, the RO must terminate the election proceedings. The new arrangement allowed the RO to delete the name of the candidate so that the election might continue; and
- If a validly nominated candidate died or had become disqualified after the close of polling, counting would continue under both the existing and new arrangements. If the candidate was successful, a by-election would be arranged under the existing arrangement. Under the new arrangement for GC, the need for a by-election would depend on whether there was any candidate on the relevant list who ranked below the candidate. If there was only one candidate on the list, a by-election would be arranged. If there was more than one candidate on the list, the seat would be taken by a candidate ranked below in accordance with the order of priority of the relevant list. As for FC, since it adopted mainly a "single seat, single vote" system, a by-election would be arranged if the candidate was successful. If more than one Member was required to be returned for a particular FC or by the EC and if the candidate in question was successful, the RO would declare the election to have partially failed and a by-election would be arranged.
17. In response to the Chairman and Mrs Miriam LAU, PAS for CA (5) said that if the seats for a GC were only partially filled, as a result of a candidate becoming disqualified or had died, a by-election would be arranged. In the case of an FC election where there were two candidates and one had become disqualified or died, the remaining candidate would be automatically elected as a Member of the LegCo. The Chairman commented that such an arrangement might not be fair, as it deprived electors from selecting another candidate to represent them.
Item 6 - Date for publication of Final Register
18. DS for CA said that having regard to the need to conduct advance polling and the EC subsector elections before holding the LegCo general election in September 2000, the proposed deadline of 25 May 2000 for the publication of the Final Register was considered appropriate. On the Chairman's suggestion to set different deadlines for the publication of final registers for the EC and GC/FC, DS for CA replied that since the eligibility for registration in GC, FC and EC subsector was interrelated, it was not appropriate to set different deadlines. In this regard, he pointed out that a person must be a GC elector in order to be qualified as an FC or EC elector. In the case of EC subsectors which were based on FCs, there was an additional requirement that the person must be an elector of the corresponding FC.
19. In response to Mr NG Leung-sing, PAS for CA (4) advised that for the 1998 LegCo election, the deadline for publication of the provisional register and the final register were 15 February 1998 and 15 March 1998 respectively. The EC subsector elections and the LegCo election were conducted on 2 April 1998 and 24 May 1998 respectively.
Item 7 - Publication of Final Registers in 1991 and 1995
20. Members noted the reply.
Item 8 - 1998 Voter registration exercise
21. Members noted the reply.
(Post meeting note - The Administration's response to concerns raised by the Bills Committee at this meeting was circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 2028/98-99(02))
22. The meeting ended at 10:20 am.
Legislative Council Secretariat
23 September 1999