Powers and Functions
Under Article 73 of the Basic Law, the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region shall exercise 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 Central People's Government (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 for the Third Legislative Council was held on September 12,
The 60 members of the Third Legislative Council comprise 30 members returned
by geographical constituencies through direct elections and 30 members returned by
functional constituencies representing various sectors of the community. The
President of the Legislative Council is elected by and from members of the council.
The term of office of the Third Legislative Council began on October 1, 2004,
and in accordance with the Basic Law and the Legislative Council Ordinance, the term
of office is four years (2004-08).
Meetings of the Legislative Council
The Legislative Council normally meets on Wednesdays in the Chamber of the
Legislative Council Building to conduct its business, including tabling subsidiary
legislation and other papers and reports for the council's consideration; asking
questions for replies by the Government; introducing and considering bills and
proposing resolutions and debating motions concerning matters of public interest.
All Legislative Council meetings are open to the public and are conducted in
Cantonese and English, and occasionally in Putonghua, with simultaneous
interpretation provided. The proceedings are recorded verbatim in the Official Record
of Proceedings of the Legislative Council.
During the 2005-06 legislative session (from October 2005 to August 2006), the
council held 37 meetings, five of which were devoted to the Chief Executive's
Question and Answer Sessions. The council passed 25 bills and asked 598 questions
and 1 003 supplementary questions. Altogether, 220 items of subsidiary legislation
were tabled in the council for consideration through the negative vetting procedure.
The scrutiny of 204 items was completed, with six of them amended by the council
through the passage of motions moved by the Government. The scrutiny of the remaining 16 items continued in the next session. In addition, the council completed
the scrutiny of 18 items of subsidiary legislation, which had been tabled in the
previous session. The Government proposed 22 resolutions through the positive
vetting procedure to either make new or amend existing subsidiary legislation, and all
were passed by the council.
Apart from those relating to subsidiary legislation, seven motions to amend the
Rules of Procedure were passed. The council debated 55 members' motions with no
legislative effect and three adjournment motions on issues concerning public interests
during the 2005-06 legislative session.
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 2005-06 session, the committee held 21
meetings and examined 43 financial proposals.
There are two subcommittees under the Finance Committee: the Establishment
Subcommittee and the Public Works Subcommittee, which also conduct meetings in
public. Membership of both is 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 2005-06 session, the subcommittee held six
meetings and examined 20 proposals put forward by the Government.
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 2005-06 session,
the subcommittee held 12 meetings and examined 61 proposals, covering 60 projects
and the Block Allocations for 2006-07 put forward by the Government.
Public Accounts Committee
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, public organisations or any other
persons to attend public hearings to give 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 2005-06 session, the committee examined the Director of Audit's
Report on the Accounts of the Government for the year ended March 31, 2005 and
the Reports on the Results of Value-for-Money Audits (Reports Nos. 45 and 46). The
committee held 12 public hearings and 40 internal meetings during the period. The
conclusions and recommendations of the committee are contained in the committee's
Reports Nos. 45 and 46, which were tabled in the Legislative Council on February 15,
2006 and July 12, 2006 respectively.
Committee on Members' Interests
The Committee on Members' Interests comprises seven members who are
appointed by the President of the Legislative Council in accordance with the election
procedure determined by the council's House Committee. It considers matters
pertaining to the declaration of interests, such as the arrangements for the
compilation, maintenance and accessibility of the Register of Members' Interests, and
matters of ethics in relation to the conduct of members of the Legislative Council. It
is also empowered to consider and investigate complaints regarding members'
registration and declaration of interests, and make recommendations to the council
relating to matters concerning members' interests.
During the 2005-06 session, the committee held seven meetings to review the
registration requirements for remunerated directorships and consider a proposal for
the committee to take up the additional responsibility for handling complaints
relating to members' operating expenses reimbursement claims and applications for
advance of operating expenses. A motion to amend the Rules of Procedure to
implement the proposal was moved and passed at the council meeting held on July
5, 2006. The committee also made consequential amendments to its procedure for
The House Committee, which consists of all members except the President,
elects its Chairman and the Deputy Chairman. 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 2005-06 session, the House Committee held 32
Committee on Rules of Procedure
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 council's House
Committee. During the report period, the committee held five meetings.
Any member, other than the President, may join a bills committee formed by the
House Committee to consider the general merits and principles of a bill allocated for
scrutiny. A bills committee may also consider the detailed provisions of and
amendments to the bill. It usually tables a report in council and is dissolved on the
passage of the bill or when the House Committee so decides. During the 2005-06
session, the Legislative Council set up nine bills committees to scrutinise bills
introduced into the council, namely the Chief Executive Election and Legislative
Council Election (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2006, Interception of
Communications and Surveillance Bill, Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2006, Betting
Duty (Amendment) Bill 2006, Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel Bill,
Hazardous Chemicals Control Bill, Rail Merger Bill, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(Amendment) Bill 2006 and Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill. A total of 26 bills
committees, including those carried forward from the previous session, were in
operation during the 2005-06 session.
Subcommittees on Subsidiary Legislation
During the 2005-06 session, the House Committee formed 14 subcommittees to
consider 20 items of subsidiary legislation, and three proposed resolutions presented
by the Government for the council's approval.
The House Committee may also appoint subcommittees to assist in the
consideration of any other matters relating to the business of the council. Three such
subcommittees were appointed during the 2005-06 session.
The Legislative Council has established 18 panels to monitor and examine the
Government's policies and issues of public concern that 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 particular matters or bills. Select committees report to the council after they
have completed consideration of such matters. No select committee was appointed
during the report period.
The Legislative Council operates a redress system under which members of the
public may seek assistance for redressing any grievance resulting from 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
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 give guidance to staff in processing cases.
The Legislative Council Commission and Legislative Council Secretariat
The Legislative Council Commission is a statutory body independent of the
Government. It is chaired by the President of the Legislative Council. In the 2005-06
session, the commission comprised 10 members, including the chairman. 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.