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LC: SCA's speech at motion moved by Hon Albert Ho

Following is the speech (English portion) by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in response to a motion on "Regretting the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to rule out universal suffrage in the years 2007 and 2008" moved by the Hon Albert Ho at the Legislative Council meeting last night (May 19):
Madam President,
I also would like to take this opportunity to respond to a few points which the Hon Audrey Eu has made. It is unfortunate she is not here at this moment.
She made comments on the statement made by the Secretary for Justice. I have three points to make. Firstly, the powers of the Central Authorities to deal with Hong Kong's constitutional development are derived not just from the Basic Law, and certainly not just from Annexes I and II of the Basic Law. They flow from the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. Articles 31, 62, 67 have been referred to by the Secretary for Justice.
Secondly, the Hon Audrey Eu has also called for voluntary restraints on the part of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in exercising the Standing Committee's powers. On some occasions, she or some of her friends have suggested that the Standing Committee should undertake not to exercise this power again in future. I have to say the constitutional powers as enacted are to be exercised constitutionally. No individual, not even the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, will be in a position to volunteer non-exercising of such powers.
Thirdly, I am very surprised that the Hon Audrey Eu has suggested that the concept of original intent does not exist and it is unknown to the common law. Clearly the common law rules of interpretation exist to help us identify the legislative intent. Precedents such as Pepper vs Hart are authorities which enable us to use ministerial statement to clarify legislative intent. These rules are familiar to any common law lawyer. They are part of our tool box. So I wish to place these points on the record.
(Please also refer to the Chinese text of the speech.)
Ends/Thursday, May 20, 2004