The District Administration Scheme started in 1982 with the establishment of a
District Board and a District Management Committee in each district. Through the
scheme, the Government promotes public participation in district affairs and fosters a
sense of belonging and mutual care among the people of Hong Kong. The scheme
also helps to ensure that the Government is responsive to district needs and
problems. Following the 1998 review of the structure and functions of district
organisations, District Boards were renamed District Councils (DC) in 2000 to
underline their important role in reflecting public opinion and monitoring the delivery
of public services at district level.
The second term of the District Councils started on 1 January 2004. In addition
to the 400 elected members, there are 102 appointed members and 27 ex officio
members (chairmen of rural committees in the New Territories), making a total of 529
District Council members. The term of office of these council members is four years
starting from January 2004. The next District Council election will be held in
November 2007 and the third term will begin on 1 January 2008.
The main function of District Councils is to advise the Government on matters
affecting the well-being of the people living and working in the districts as well as on
the provision and use of public facilities and services within the districts. The
Government also consults the District Councils on a wide range of issues.
Each district has a District Management Committee, chaired by the District
Officer, and comprising the chairman, vice-chairman and committee chairmen of the
District Council as well as representatives of Government departments providing
essential services in the district. The District Management Committee serves as a
forum for consultation, coordination and collaboration between different
departments and the District Council to help resolve inter-departmental district issues
and ensure that district needs are promptly met.
Another key function of District Councils is to carry out minor environmental
improvement and community involvement projects with funds available. Such funds
have been increased from $130 million in 1999-2000 to $173.5 million in 2006-07.
In 2006, the Administration conducted a review of the role, functions and
composition of District Councils with a view to enhancing the functions of District
Councils and improving government work in districts. Recommendations under the
DC Review were generally well received. These include arrangements for District
Councils to participate in the management of some district facilities, measures to
strengthen communication between the District Councils and the Administration as
well as to set up a high-level Steering Committee on District Administration to
expedite resolution of district management issues, and proposals to provide better
support to District Council members. A pilot scheme in four districts to involve the
District Councils in the management of district facilities will be launched in January
2007. Experience from operating the pilot scheme is expected to facilitate the
smooth implementation of the DC Review in all 18 districts starting January 2008.
To maintain a direct dialogue with local residents, each District Council operates
a meet-the-public scheme, under which residents can meet council members face-to-face
to express their views on district problems. The scheme has been well received
by the public. It also provides a direct channel for District Councils to collect public
views on local matters and territory-wide issues. In addition, many District Council
members also operate ward offices to maintain contact with their constituents and to
better meet the needs of the local community.
To promote harmony in the community and encourage public participation in
district affairs, Area Committees have been set up in the 18 districts to advise on
local issues as well as to help organise community activities and government
campaigns. At year-end, there are 70 Area Committees.
Twenty Public Enquiry Service Centres, attached to the District Offices, provide a
wide range of free services to the public. These services include answering general
enquiries on government services; distributing government forms and information;
administering oaths and declarations; and referring cases under the District Council
members' meet-the-public scheme, the Free Legal Advice Scheme and the Rent
Officer Scheme. The Public Enquiry Service Centres and the General Telephone
Enquiry Centre served a total of 1.66 million clients in 2006.