CAB C 4/17/7

12 October 1999

Mrs Constance LI
Clerk to Bills Committee
Legislative Council
8 Jackson Road
Hong Kong
(Fax: 2509 9055)

Dear Mrs LI,

Bills Committee on
Provision of Municipal Services (Reorganization) Bill

Follow-up to meetings on 15, 17, 22 and 24 September 1999

Thank you for your letters of 21 and 28 September 1999, conveying the Bills Committee's concerns raised at the above meetings. We responded to most of the concerns regarding CSAs proposed by Members in our letter of 8 October 1999. Our response to the remaining concerns is set out below:

Concerns raised on 15 September 1999

I. (a) Section 83A: to consider whether one single authority will suffice

Section 83A deals with the making of hawker regulation and hence the authority is vested with the Secretary for Environment and Food. This regulation making authority applies to the entire section 83A. However, for the purpose of specifying conditions in relation to allocation of pitches to licensed hawkers and the erection of stalls (section 83A(1)(g)) and cancellation and suspension of hawker licence on conviction of a hawker offence (section 83(A)(1)(i)), we propose that the authority should be the Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene.

(b) Section 94: to advise whether this section will be retained or deleted

Section 94 requires the licensee of a scheduled premises (which includes restaurants, dancing establishments, theatres, cinemas, funeral parlours and factory canteens) to submit information on particulars of the fan, air intake area, air exhaust area and refrigerant of any new ventilating system installed in the premises. It also prohibits any alteration to the ventilating system without prior permission from the Licensing Authority. For the protection of public health, Second Schedule to Cap. 132 prescribes the amount of fresh air per hour to be provided to each person who may be accommodated in the scheduled premises and the Licensing Authority needs to be supplied with the information required in section 94 to assess adequacy of ventilation which is one of the factors for determining the grant of licence. In view of this need, we recommend that section 94 be retained.

(c) Section 105E: to provide CSAs

In the proposed Third Schedule, we have inadvertently omitted Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene as the designated authority in relation to fees, conditions for the use of stadia under section 105E. We will put up a CSA to rectify this omission.

(d) Section 105P: to provide information on the practice of the Provisional Urban Council in vetting applications for the use of Civic Centres

The PUC's civic centres can be classified into cultural centre (i.e. Hong Kong Cultural Centre, City Hall) and indoor stadia (i.e. Hong Kong Coliseum and Queen Elizabeth Stadium). Booking applications for the use of these venues are put up to the Culture Select Committee and Entertainment Select Committee respectively for endorsement. The criteria for vetting booking applications include the following consideration:

  • availability of the venue;

  • nature of the event in relation to the physical suitability of the venue;

  • compatibility of the event with policy guidelines prescribed by the PUC;

  • public safety and security concern in relation to the technical staging of the event; and

  • in the case of indoor stadia, potential rental revenue generated from the booking.

In the case of cultural centres, the priorities of competing applications will be decided according to a points system approved by the PUC, which takes into account the cultural content and artistic merit of the proposed function as well as the objective of the venue. There is, however, no such points system for indoor stadia.

All late bookings are considered on a first-come-first-served basis if the booking criteria are met. Late bookings for civic centres are approved by the Senior Manager in charge of the venue. For indoor stadia, late bookings are approved by the Chairman of the Entertainment Select Committee.

II. Sixth Schedule

Section 13(1): To provide a comparison table to explain the differences between existing and proposed authorities who will initiate proceedings for offences

A comparison table was forwarded under cover of our letter dated 23.9.99 and subsequently discussed at the Bills Committee.

III. Clause 91 in Schedule 3 (C1761)

To explain the licensing criteria for public table tennis saloon and billiard establishment, e.g. whether access/use by public is the primary consideration

Under section 92A of Cap. 132, billiard establishments (other than those for private use or with less than 4 tables) and public table tennis saloons are subject to licensing control because they are places open to use by the public. The established licensing criteria for these places of amusement are as follows:-

  • the applicant should be free from any convictions as defined under by-law 7 of the Places of Amusement of the PUC and ProRC;

  • the premises under application should be located in purely commercial buildings. If it is located in a commercial podium floor of mixed commercial/residential building, separate means of access segregated from the residential portion of the building should be provided;

  • the applicant shall comply with and observe at all times requirements issued by the Director of Fire Services; and

  • the premises for this purpose should meet the specific health requirements in relation to sanitary fitments, air-conditioning/ventilation system, etc.

However, as table tennis saloons are no longer in existence, we intend to introduce a CSA to delete public table tennis saloon from the proposed Places of Amusement Regulation.

V. Bathing Beaches Regulation

To enforce section 4(2) (clause 156) under the Regulation by prosecuting persons who fail to comply with a notice announcing the closure (or restriction of use) of a bathing beach during inclement weather or emergency

On the request of PUC, USD is now conducting a review on how to prevent swimmers from entering the water when the beach conditions are unsafe for swimming and on ways to enforce the regulation and recommendations will be submitted to PUC once available.

Concerns raised on 17 September 1999Schedule 3

I. Commercial Bathhouses Regulation (Clauses 180 - 194)

To provide a paper on the licensing policy, standards and procedures for private clubhouses, fitness centres the those in large private residential estates.

A paper is attached at Annex A.

II. Cremation and Gardens of Remembrance Regulation (Clauses 195 - 222)

(a) Section 13: To explain why there is a residency requirement for disposal of ashes at a crematorium.

Residency requirement for disposal of ashes at a crematorium is to ensure that the limited public crematorium facilities are made available for use by local residents only since the construction and maintenance of these facilities are met from the public funds. As for non-residents, facilities to dispose ashes are available in private columbaria run by non-profit making or religious organizations.

(c) New part IIIa: To provide further information on the registration policy, procedures and monitoring of private crematoria, and whether private crematoria are open for use by members of the public.

For many years in the past, a number of Buddhist monasteries and nunneries in the New Territories had their own cremators for the cremation of the remains of deceased monks and nuns. These facilities, however, were not authorized.

These private crematoria were regularised between the late 1970s and early 1980s to ensure that they would comply with the heath requirements and that proper records of cremation would be kept to prevent the possibility of bodies of persons being cremated without a permit issued by the Authority.

There are at present 5 private crematoria authorized under Part VI of the Fifth Schedule of Cap. 132 and they are all located within temples and monasteries in the New Territories. In accordance with the conditions for the operation of a private crematorium, the facility can only be used for the cremation of the encoffined dead body or exhumed human remains of members or resident inmates of the monastery/nunnery. Private crematoria are therefore not for use by members of the public. The manager of the private crematorium should apply for a cremation permit and strictly follow the procedures laid down set out in published guidelines.

(d) Administration to provide further information on the proposed arrangement for cremation of the dead bodies of pets, and incineration of animal carcasses and clinical waste, etc.

The pet cremation service used to be provided by USD has ceased since 30.9.1999 due to closure of the Kennedy Town Abattoir (KTA).

Until such time as a permanent animal carcass cremator is commissioned, the public will have to dispose of their pet at a centralized collection point at the Cha Kwo Ling USD Depot for delivery to the landfill for burial.

With regard to other animal carcasses, all are now required to be disposed by tipping at landfill and waste producers have to make their own arrangements with the EPD. We, however, intend to maintain the animal cremator in KTA as a standby facility in the case of an urgent need to incinerate infectious carcasses.

The Government proposes to build a permanent animal carcass cremator for commissioning by 2004 and to modify the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre at Tsing Yi Island to provide a proper incineration facility for clinical waste by 2001. The EA Panel will be consulted in due course.

III. Food Business Regulation

(a) To provide further information on the exempted categories and the rationale/policy.

At present, there are certain exemptions provided under the Food Business By-laws. This include person who carries on the business of

  1. restaurant selling cooked food or light refreshments or that of a siu mei and lo mei shop in a stall within a public/private market;

  2. bottling or canning edible oil;

  3. sorting, sifting, drying or repacking of tea; or

  4. packing of rice.

For (i), exemption is granted as a public/private market has already met the main building and fire safety requirements and is equipped with basic facilities for the purpose of food premises licensing. Though operators of food premises in a public/private market are exempted from holding a licence, they are still required to observe the relevant food and hygiene laws in the course of their business.

For (ii), (iii) and (iv), exemption is granted as these food items do not easily deteriorate and give rise to health risk.

Furthermore, under section 4 of the Food Business Regulation, any canteen provided in any school or work place for the exclusive use of the pupils of the school or persons employed in the work place is not classified as food business. Consequently, a food business licence is not required for these categories of canteens. The two Municipal Councils have recently discussed and endorsed in principle the following proposed control measures to cover canteens provided in government and non-government organizations, offices, hospitals, hostels, institutions and clubs as follows:

  • canteens serving staff, members inmates as well as outsiders are to be regarded as restaurants and shall be subject to control under the existing licensing system; and

  • canteens serving staff, members or inmates exclusively and those in hospitals serving hospital staff and sometimes patients shall be subject to control under a new registration system similar to that of a factory canteen.

Legislative amendments will have to be made before these changes can be introduced and necessary follow-up action will be taken by the new FEHD. Upon implementation, affected premises will be given a grace period to comply with the requirements.

(e) Schedules 1 and 2: to review the licensing policy and requirements for the sale of various types of prohibited/restricted food in restaurants, e.g. in Sushi or Yu Sang shops.

The Provisional Municipal Councils have established clear licensing policies and appropriate requirements to control the sale of prohibited food and restricted food in any scheduled retail outlets. For the time being, Schedule 1 and 2 are up-to-date but they can be reviewed as and when such a need arises.

IV. Frozen Confections Regulation (Clause 277)

Administration to confirm that the existing policies of Provisional Urban Council and Provisional Regional Council on itinerant hawkers in urban areas and the New Territories will remain unchanged for, say, two years, after the reorganization.

While PUC has re-affirmed the policy to delete the whole category of Itinerant Hawker Licence (IHL) under the IHL Compulsory Deletion Policy approved on 17.3.1993, it has yet to set a commencement date for the Hawker (UC) (Amendment) Bylaws to tie in with implementation of the policy. For the ProRC, it has since 1973 stopped the issue new IHL except IHL (Frozen Confection). We do not intend to implement compulsory deletion of IHLs in the urban area for the time being.

VI. Hawker (Permitted Places) Declaration and Hawker Regulation

Administration to provide a comparison table to illustrate the differences between the existing and proposed provisions, and to provide the reasons for adopting the proposed provisions

A table of comparison is attached at Annex B.

Concerns raised at the meeting on 24 September 1999

Public Cemeteries Regulation

f) To provide a list of provisions in the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance and the Regulations and examples in other legislation which contain similar disclaimer clause

There is similar provision under Cap. 132 to safeguard the Authority and the Government in respect of any loss or damage arising out of

  • seizure, carrying away or detention of any article in the prevention of obstructions (section 22); and

  • removal of canopy in the prevention of accumulation of litter or waste (section 22A).

In view of the nature of enforcement action involved, it is laid down clearly in the legislation that no liability or claim shall lie against the Authority or the Government.Examples of similar provisions in other legislation are section 7 of the Post office Ordinance and by-law 35 of the Housing (Traffic) By-laws.

Slaughterhouses Regulation

l) To consider imposing more stringent licensing conditions to reduce noise pollution and nuisance caused to the neighbourhood of Tsuen Wan Slaughterhouse

Pursuant to section 9(2), the Director is empowered to impose conditions on a slaughterhouse licence. Thus, appropriate conditions in relation to noise pollution may be imposed when there is a need.

Yours sincerely,

( John C. Y. Leung )
for Secretary for Constitutional Affairs



DUS (Attn:Mr Harris KAM -2524 1977)
DRS (Attn:Mr K T LAI-2691 4661)
D of J (Attn:Mrs N Dissanayake-2869 1302
Miss Selina LAU-2523 5104
Miss Vivian FUNG-2869 0670)