As provided for in Article 73 of the Basic Law, the Legislative Council
of the HKSAR exercises the following powers and functions:
To enact, amend or repeal laws in accordance with the provisions
of the Basic Law and legal procedures;
To examine and approve budgets introduced by the Government;
To approve taxation and public expenditure;
To receive and debate the policy addresses of the Chief Executive;
To raise questions on the work of the Government;
To debate any issue concerning public interests;
To endorse the appointment and removal of the judges of the Court
of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court;
To receive and handle complaints from Hong Kong residents;
If a motion initiated jointly by one-fourth of all the Members
of the Legislative Council charges the Chief Executive with serious
breach of law or dereliction of duty and if he or she refuses to
resign, the council may, after passing a motion for investigation,
give a mandate to the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal
to form and chair an independent investigation committee. The committee
shall be responsible for carrying out the investigation and reporting
its findings to the council. If the committee considers the evidence
sufficient to substantiate such charges, the council may pass a
motion of impeachment by a two-thirds majority of all its members
and report it to the CPG for decision; and
To summon, as required when exercising the above-mentioned powers
and functions, persons concerned to testify or give evidence.
Under the Basic Law, the Legislative Council of the HKSAR is constituted
by election. The election of the second term of the Legislative Council
was held on September 10, 2000.
The 60 members of the council's second term comprise
24 members returned by geographical constituencies through direct elections,
30 members returned by functional constituencies representing different
sectors of the community, and six members returned by an Election Committee
comprising 800 elected representatives of the community. The President
of the Legislative Council is elected by and from among members of the
The second term of office of the Legislative Council
began on October 1, 2000, and in accordance with the Basic Law and the
Legislative Council Ordinance, the term of office is four years (2000-2004).
The Legislative Council normally meets on Wednesday afternoons in the
Chamber of the Legislative Council Building to conduct business which
includes the tabling of subsidiary legislation and other papers and reports
for the council's consideration; asking of questions for replies by the
Government; the introduction and consideration of bills and proposed resolutions;
and debates on motions concerning matters of public interest.
All Legislative Council meetings are open to the public
and are conducted in Cantonese or English with simultaneous interpretation
provided. Putonghua may be used where requested by members, with simultaneous
interpretation provided. The proceedings of the meetings are recorded
verbatim in the Official Record of Proceedings of the Legislative Council.
During the 2002-03 legislative session (from October
2002 to September 2003), the Legislative Council held 36 meetings. Four
of these were devoted to the Chief Executive's Question and Answer Sessions.
The council passed a total of 34 bills and asked 615 questions and 1 006
supplementary questions. Altogether, 250 items of subsidiary legislation
were tabled in the council for consideration through the negative vetting
procedure. Of the items tabled, 212 were not amended, 24 were amended
and two were repealed. The scrutiny of the remaining 12 items continued
in the next session. The Administration moved 22 motions relating to subsidiary
legislation through the positive vetting procedure and two motions under
Article 73(7) of the Basic Law to endorse the appointment of judges of
the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court. Members
of the council moved two motions concerning the council's procedural matters,
one motion to invoke the council's powers to order attendance of witnesses
and production of documents under the Legislative Council (Powers and
Privileges) Ordinance and 55 motion debates on issues concerning public
interests. One adjournment debate was moved by a member to allow members
to express their opinions on an issue concerning public interests, with
a view to eliciting a reply from the Administration.
The Finance Committee consists of all Members of the Legislative Council
except the President. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the committee
are elected from among its members. The committee normally meets in public
on Friday afternoons to scrutinise and approve public expenditure proposals
put forward by the Government. Its work includes the scrutiny of the annual
Budget presented by the Financial Secretary to the Legislative Council
during the proceedings related to the Appropriation Bill, which sets out
the Government's annual expenditure proposals for the following financial
year. During the 2002-03 session, the committee held 18 meetings and examined
a total of 70 financial proposals.
There are two subcommittees under the Finance Committee.
They are the Establishment Subcommittee and the Public Works Subcommittee,
both of which also conduct meetings in public. Their respective memberships
are open to all members of the Finance Committee.
The Establishment Subcommittee examines and makes
recommendations to the Finance Committee on the Government's proposals
for the creation, redeployment and deletion of directorate posts, and
for changes to the structure of grades and ranks in the Civil Service.
During the 2002-03 session, the subcommittee held nine meetings and examined
a total of 19 proposals put forward by the Administration.
The Public Works Subcommittee examines and makes recommendations
to the Finance Committee on the Government's expenditure proposals under
the Capital Works Reserve Fund for projects in the Public Works Programme
and building projects carried out by or on behalf of subvented organisations.
During the 2002-03 session, the subcommittee held 16 meetings and examined
a total of 78 proposals put forward by the Administration.
The Public Accounts Committee considers reports of the Director of Audit
on the accounts of the Government and the results of his value-for-money
audits of government departments and other organisations that are within
the purview of public audit. It may invite government officials and staff
of public organisations to attend public hearings to give explanations,
evidence or information, or any other persons to assist it in relation
to such explanations, evidence or information. The seven members of the
committee are appointed by the President of the Legislative Council in
accordance with the election procedure determined by the council's House
During the session under review, the committee examined
the Director of Audit's Report on the Accounts of the Government of the
HKSAR for the year ended March 31, 2002, and the Director's two Reports
on the Results of Value for Money Audits. The committee held 11 public
hearings and 29 internal meetings during the period. The conclusions and
recommendations of the committee are contained in its Report Nos. 39 and
40 tabled in the Legislative Council on February 19 and July 9, 2003,
The Committee on Members' Interests considers matters pertaining to the
declaration of interests and matters of ethics in relation to the conduct
of Members of the Legislative Council. It is also empowered to investigate
complaints regarding members' registration and declaration of interests,
and make recommendations to the council relating to matters concerning
members' interests. The committee examines arrangements for the compilation,
maintenance and accessibility of the Register of Members' Interests. The
committee comprises seven members who are appointed by the President of
the Legislative Council in accordance with the election procedure determined
by the House Committee. During the session under review, the committee
held two meetings.
The House Committee consists of all members except the President. The
Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the committee are elected by the members
of the House Committee. The committee normally meets on Friday afternoons
and is responsible for dealing with matters related to the work of the
Legislative Council and preparing members for council meetings. It decides
whether bills committees or subcommittees should be formed to scrutinise
bills and subsidiary legislation. During the 2002-03 session, a total
of 32 regular meetings of the House Committee were held.
The House Committee also holds special meetings to
discuss issues of public concern. During the session under review, the
committee held two special meetings to discuss with the Chief Secretary
for Administration various issues of public concern.
The Committee on Rules of Procedure is responsible for reviewing the
Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council and its committees, and
proposing to the council such amendments or changes as are considered
necessary. The committee consists of 12 members who are appointed by the
President of the Legislative Council in accordance with the election procedure
determined by the House Committee. During the session under review, the
committee held a total of seven meetings.
Any member, other than the President, may join a bills committee formed
by the House Committee to consider the principles, general merits, and
detailed provisions of a bill allocated to it for scrutiny. It may also
propose amendments relevant to the bill. A bills committee usually tables
a report in council after it has completed its task. It is dissolved on
the passage of the bill concerned through the Legislative Council or when
the House Committee so decides. During the 2002-03 session, the Legislative
Council set up 30 bills committees to scrutinise bills introduced into
the council, including the Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 2003, Companies
(Amendment) Bill 2002, Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2001, Landlord and Tenant
(Consolidation) (Amendment) Bill 2001, National Security (Legislative
Provisions) Bill, and Village Representative Elections Bill.
During the 2002-03 session, 26 subcommittees were formed by the House
Committee to consider 44 items of subsidiary legislation tabled in council,
and seven proposed resolutions presented by the Government to the council
for its approval.
The Legislative Council has established 18 panels to monitor and examine
the Government's policies and issues of public concern which relate to
their respective policy areas. These panels also give views on major legislative
or financial proposals before their introduction into the Legislative
Council or the Finance Committee, and examine relevant policy matters
referred to them.
The Legislative Council may appoint select committees to enable members
to consider matters in depth. Select committees report to the council
after they have completed consideration of such matters.
In response to public concern over the quality of
public housing, the Legislative Council appointed a Select Committee on
February 7, 2001 to inquire into the matter. The Select Committee submitted
its first report to the council on January 22, 2003.
The Legislative Council operates a redress system under which members
of the public may seek assistance for redressing any grievance which resulted
from implementation of government actions or policies and lodge complaints
against government departments and other organisations. The redress system
operates on a weekly roster with groups of six council members taking
turns to receive and handle complaints and representations from the public.
They also take turns to be on 'ward duty' during their duty week to meet
individual complainants and to give guidance to staff in processing cases.
The Legislative Council Commission is a statutory body independent of
the Government. It is chaired by the President of the Legislative Council
and consists of 12 other members. The commission's main function is to
provide support and services for the Legislative Council through the Legislative
Council Secretariat. It is empowered to employ staff of the Legislative
Council Secretariat and oversee its work, determine the organisation and
administration of support services and facilities, formulate and execute
policies on their effective operation and expend funds in ways it sees
fit to support these activities.
The Legislative Council Secretariat is headed by the
Secretary General. Its mission is to provide efficient administrative,
secretariat and research support for the council and its committees, enhance
the community's understanding of the activities of the council and ensure
an effective avenue for redress.