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LCQ5: The work of Under Secretaries

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 19):


     The Government, in creating the posts of Under Secretaries, had pointed out that one of their duties was to maintain regular liaison with Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo Members). However, recently the requests from myself and some LegCo Members to meet with some Under Secretaries to discuss policy matters have been rejected from time to time. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the LegCo Members from whom requests for meetings to discuss relevant policy matters had been received by each Under Secretary last year, the matters to be discussed at the meetings, whether their requests were acceded to, with a breakdown of the requests which were rejected, and the reasons for rejection; and

(b) whether the Government has drawn up any guideline to facilitate Under Secretaries to effectively fulfill their duty of maintaining regular liaison with LegCo Members; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Mr President,

(a) The day-to-day work of the Under Secretaries covers different aspects. Depending on the needs and the actual situation, they communicate and liaise frequently with Members of the Legislative Council (LegCo), stakeholders in the relevant sectors and the community through various channels, including telephone and meeting, as well as through attending meetings, forums, seminars and consultation sessions.

     As the meetings with LegCo Members could be proposed through letters, emails, telephone calls or at other occasions and the format of the meetings varies, we could not keep information about all relevant meeting requests and the details of the meetings. If a meeting did not take place eventually, it could be due to a number of reasons, e.g. failure to identify a mutually convenient timeslot, or there were other more suitable occasions for exchanging views, or the communication has been undertaken by other persons of the Bureau (e.g. the Director of Bureau). In the light of the reasons as set out above, we could not keep information and statistics about whether each of the meeting requests was acceded to.

(b) The HKSAR Government published in October 2007 the "Code for Officials Under the Political Appointment System", which set out the basic principles which politically-appointed officials should follow in the performance of their duties. In November of the same year, the HKSAR Government also set out the job description for Under Secretaries in a discussion paper submitted to the Establishment Subcommittee of Finance Committee.

     In terms of handling LegCo-related business, the work of the Under Secretaries includes:

(i) attending the main meetings, as well as committee, subcommittee and panel meetings of the LegCo as assigned by Directors of Bureau;

(ii) maintaining liaison with LegCo Members; and

(iii) securing the passage of bills, motions and subsidiary legislation as well as public expenditure proposals through the LegCo.

     With different portfolios, different subject matters and different sectors to liaise with, the work of Under Secretaries is bound to be different. The Under Secretaries will, in accordance with their duties and depending on the needs and the actual situation, communicate and liaise with LegCo Members, stakeholders in the relevant sectors and the community through various channels.

Ends/Wednesday, January 19, 2011