LC Paper No. CB(2) 70/98-99
Ref : CB2/H/5
House Committee of the Legislative Council
Minutes of the 4th meeting
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
at 5:37 pm on Friday, 17 July 1998
Members present :
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Kenneth TING Woo-shou, JP
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Hon Cyd HO Sau-lan
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, SC, JP
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon LEE Kai-ming, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon NG Leung-sing
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
Hon Margaret NG Ngoi-yee
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum, JP
Hon HUI Cheung-ching
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fan, JP
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Gary CHENG Kai-nam
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon Jasper TSANG Yok-sing, JP
Hon LAU Chin-shek, JP
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing, JP
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon LAW Chi-kwong, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
Members absent :
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Dr Hon LUI Ming-wah, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Bernard Charnwut CHAN
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting, JP
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, JP
- 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
- Mr Ray CHAN
- Assistant Secretary General 3
- Miss Connie FUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 3
- Mr Stephen LAM
- Assistant Legal Adviser 4
- Mr Arthur CHEUNG
- Assistant Legal Adviser 5
- Mr KAU Kin-wah
- Assistant Legal Adviser 6
- Mrs Anna LO
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Complaints)
- Ms Kathleen LAU
- Chief Public Information Officer
- 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
- Miss Salumi CHAN
- Senior Assistant Secretary (3)2
- Miss Mary SO
- Senior Assistant Secretary (3)3
I. Confirmation of the minutes of the 2nd and 3rd meetings held on
6 and 10 July 1998
(LC Paper Nos. CB(2) 10 & CB(2) 38/98-99)
The minutes of the two meetings held on 6 and 10 July 1998 were confirmed.
II. Matters arising
Report by the Chairman on his meeting with the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS)
2. The Chairman said that CS had informed him that the membership of the independent team to investigate the operations in the new airport would be made known to Members as soon as possible. CS also said that the investigation report would be made available to Members after the investigation.
3. The Chairman further said that he had written to CS conveying members concern about the suspension of air cargo operations. The reply from CS was tabled for members information.
(The letter from the Chief Secretary for Administration was tabled at the meeting and circulated to members vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 69/98-99 on 20 July 1998)
III. Business arising from previous Council meetings
- Legal Service Divisions report on bills referred to the House Committee in accordance with Rule 54(4)
- Evidence (Amendment) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 3/98-99)
4. Referring to the paper, the Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to implement the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission to abolish the rule against hearsay evidence in civil proceedings and introduce a simpler system for the admission of hearsay evidence in those proceedings. He added that the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong had expressed views on the Bill. The Legal Service Division was seeking clarification from the Administration on some technical points of the Bill.
5. Miss Margaret NG said that the proposed amendments set out in the Bill had far reaching implications on civil proceedings. She suggested and members agreed to form a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following members agreed to join: Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr Martin LEE Chu-ming, Mr Eric LI Ka-cheung and Miss Margaret NG Ngoi-yee.
- Supplementary Appropriation (1997-98) Bill 1998
(LC Paper No. LS 15/98-99)
6. The Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to provide for the appropriation of $10.7 billion for the service of the Government in the financial year which ended on 31 March 1998 in addition to the sum appropriated by the Appropriation Ordinance 1997 (24 of 1997). The Bill was legally in order.
7. Members agreed that the Second Reading debate on the Bill be resumed.
- Legal Service Divisions report on subsidiary legislation tabled in Council on 15 July 1998 (gazetted on 10 July 1998)
(LC Paper No. LS 14/98-99)
8. The Legal Adviser introduced the paper which detailed the nine items of subsidiary legislation gazetted on 10 July 1998. Referring to the two items of subsidiary legislation concerning the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 1994, the Legal Adviser explained that the first item was a corrigendum to the 1997 Commencement Notice which had been published without consultation with the Executive Council as required under Article 56 of the Basic Law. The second item was a Commencement Notice which sought to rectify the problem by making a fresh commencement notice. He said that the Legal Service Division had written to the Administration seeking clarification on whether anything had been done in reliance on, and the effect of, the first notice. He would make a further report to the House Committee if necessary.
9. Members raised no queries on the subsidiary legislation covered in the paper.
10. The Chairman said that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 29 July 1998 was 22 July 1998.
IV. Further business for the Council meeting on 22 July 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 67/98-99)
11. The Chairman said that 18 questions (six oral and 12 written) had been scheduled. He advised members that Mr Andrew CHENG had withdrawn his question and that Dr TANG Siu-tong and Mr TAM Yiu-chung had each submitted a new question (Questions Nos. 10 and 18 respectively).
12. The Chairman urged members to avoid changing the subject matter of questions as far as possible in order not to cause unnecessary work to the Administration.
- Government motions
Two resolutions under section 48A of the Employees Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) and section 40 of the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 360) - to be moved by Secretary for Education and Manpower
13. The Chairman said that the Administration had given notice to move the above two resolutions on 22 July 1998. The subcommittee formed to study the resolutions would report under agenda item VI(c) below.
V. Business for the Council meeting on 29 July 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 68/98-99)
14. The Chairman advised members that 20 questions (six oral and 14 written) had been tentatively scheduled.
- Bill - resumption of debate on Second Reading, Committee Stage and Third Reading
Holidays (Amendment) Bill 1998
15. The Chairman said that the Bills Committee formed to study the Bill would report under agenda item VI(b) below.
- Government motions
No notice had been received.
- Members motions
(i) Motion on "Review of district organisations"
17. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Mr Ambrose CHEUNG Wing-sum.
(ii) Motion on "Central harbour reclamation"
18. Members noted the wording of the above motion to be moved by Miss Christine LOH.
19. The Chairman advised members that the deadline of giving notice of amendments to the above motions was 22 July 1998.
- Report of the Subcommittee on subsidiary legislation gazetted from 13 March 1998 to 6 July 1998
(LC Paper No. CB(2) 67/98-99 tabled at the meeting and issued vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 69/98-99 on 20 July 1998)
20. Referring to the paper which was tabled at the meeting, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Chairman of the subcommittee, reported that the subcommittee had recommended that the 51 items of subsidiary legislation gazetted between 9 April 1998 and 26 June 1998, as well as the Fugitive Offenders (New Zealand) Order gazetted on 3 July 1998, be supported.
21. Mr ARCULLI further said that Mr LEE Wing-tat had indicated that he might move a resolution to amend the Housing (Amendment) (No. 2) Ordinance 1998 (24 of 1998) (Commencement) Notice 1998.
22. The Chairman advised members that the deadline for giving notice to amend the subsidiary legislation at the Council meeting on 29 July 1998 was 22 July 1998.
- Report of the Bills Committee on Holidays (Amendment) Bill 1998
23. Mr Andrew CHENG, Chairman of the Bills Committee, reported that the Bills Committee had held one meeting with the Administration to discuss the provisions of the Bill in detail. He said that members of the Bills Committee had divergent views on some of the proposals in the Bill. Whilst some members were in support of the Bill, there were other members who were of the view that the exclusion of the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day from the Schedule of General Holidays was inappropriate as the Administration had not consulted the concerned groups and educational bodies in its consultation exercise. These members had also questioned the rationale for limiting the number of general holidays (other than Sundays) to 17 days in a year.
24. The Bills Committee had also considered an amendment to the Bill proposed by a member which sought to re-instate the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day as a general holiday as from the year 2000 onwards. The Bills Committee concluded that it would not put forward the proposed amendment in the light of the Administrations initial view that the proposed amendment might be regarded as having a "charging effect" within the terms of Rule 57(6) of the Rules of Procedure.
25. Members of the Bills Committee were however in general agreement in urging the Administration to consider designating a school day as the "National History Educational Day" so as to enhance students understanding of their national history. The Bills Committee had requested the Administration to give a response to the proposal by 22 July 1998 in order that its members could decide whether they would support the Bill in the light of the Administrations response. In view of the need for the general holidays in 1999 to be confirmed as early as possible, the Bills Committee recommended resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill to take place on 29 July 1998. The Bills Committee would submit a written report to the House Committee at its next meeting on 24 July 1998.||CAS(2)2
26. Mr Martin LEE asked the Legal Adviser whether the amendment seeking to retain the Sino-Japanese War Victory Day as a general holiday proposed by a member of the Bills Committee had a "charging effect". The Legal Adviser explained the legal effect of the proposed amendment and advised that it was a matter for the President to form an opinion as to whether the amendment would have the effect of disposing of or charging general revenue.
27. Miss Margaret NG asked what principles or tests would be applied in determining whether or not a legislative proposal by a Member had a charging effect under Rule 57(6) of the Rules of Procedure.
28. Mr Andrew WONG said that the Legal Adviser had a dual role to play as Counsel to the Legislature. On the one hand, the Legal Adviser had a duty to provide legal advice to Members to assist them in dealing with matters relating to the business of the Council. On the other, it was the duty of the Legal Adviser to provide legal advice to the President. Mr WONG considered that it would be inappropriate for the Legal Adviser to give his opinion formally to a committee of the Council on an issue which had yet to be decided by the President.
29. The Legal Adviser said that he would prepare a paper setting out the principles applied in previous rulings made by the Presidents of the former LegCo and the President of the Provisional Legislative Council relating to the "charging effect" issue.||LA
- Report of the Subcommittee on Government Motions under section 48A of the Employees Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282) and section 40 of the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 360)
(The letter from the Acting Secretary for Education and Manpower dated 17 July 1998 was tabled at the meeting and circulated vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 69/98-99 on 20 July 1998)
30. Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Chairman of the subcommittee, reported that the subcommittee was concerned about the delay in the revision of the level of compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenities (PSLA) under the Pneumoconiosis (Compensation) Ordinance (PCO), which had not been revised on 1 January 1998 as originally scheduled. In response to the subcommittees view, the Administration had agreed to increase the level of compensation for PSLA by $180 on top of the original proposed new compensation level of $3,000. The subcommittee considered the revised level of compensation for PSLA acceptable.
31. Mr CHAN further reported that the subcommittee supported the resolution seeking to revise the levels of compensation payable under the Employees Compensation Ordinance. One subcommittee member however had reservations about increasing the ceiling for monthly earnings from $18,000 to $21,000 on which the maximum amount of compensation for permanent total incapacity and for death would be calculated.
32. Mr CHAN added that the subcommittee agreed with the Administration that it should give fresh notice to move the two resolutions on 22 July 1998 as originally scheduled, so that the new rates could take effect on 1 August 1998 if approved by the Council.
33. The Chairman advised members that the President had given permission to waive the normal notice requirement for moving the resolutions under Rule 29 of the Rules of Procedure. The President had also agreed to extend the deadline of notice of amendments to 12:00 noon on Saturday, 18 July 1998.
34. Mr LEE Cheuk-yan informed members that he had given notice to move a motion under the PCO to raise the level of the compensation for bereavement from $70,000 to $150,000, as against $100,000 proposed by the Administration in the resolution.
- Report of the Subcommittee to prepare for the setting up of the Select Committee to inquire into matters relating to the opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 89/98-99 was tabled at the meeting and circulated vide LC Paper No. CB(2) 69/98-99 dated 20 July 1998)
35. Mr LAU Kong-wah, Chairman of the subcommittee, highlighted the deliberations of the subcommittee as detailed in the paper.
36. Members endorsed the recommendations as set out in paragraphs 5 to 8 of the paper.
37. Mr LEE Wing-tat informed members that he would give notice to move amendments to the resolution on the formation of the Select Committee to remove the "three-month period restriction".
VII. Election of Members to The Legislative Council Commission
(LC Paper No. AS 29/98-99)
38. The Chairman said that ten nominations had been received, which was equal to the number of Members to be elected to The Legislative Council Commission. In accordance with the election procedure approved by the Council on 8 July 1998, the Chairman declared that the following Members were elected to The Legislative Council Commission -
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon NG Leung-sing
Hon CHAN Kwok-keung
Hon Bernard CHAN
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
VIII. Formation of Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee
(LC Paper No. CB(3) 62/98-99)
39. The Chairman suggested and members agreed that the item should be deferred for discussion at the House Committee meeting on 24 July 1998.
40. The meeting ended at 6:35 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
22 July 1998