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LCQ22: Consultation work in relation to updating the electorate of functional constituencies

     Following is a question by the Hon Charles Peter Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (June 10):


     Currently, the "eligible persons" (e.g. fellows and full members) of those bodies specified in the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) may register as electors in the information technology functional constituency (ITFC) of the Legislative Council. Last year, I submitted a proposal on ITFC to the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB), with a view to amending the definition of the "eligible persons" in respect of three bodies (i.e. the Information Technology Division of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, The Institution of Engineering and Technology Hong Kong and the Professional Information Security Association), and to including the eligible persons in respect of six new bodies (i.e. the Information Security and Forensics Society, the IT Service Management Forum Hong Kong Chapter, the Hong Kong Retail Technology Industry Association, the Chamber of Hong Kong Computer Industry Co. Ltd., the Hong Kong Electronic Industries Association and the Government Information Technology Professionals Association) as electors. I also requested to have a meeting with the authorities together with the relevant bodies to discuss the proposal, but no meeting was arranged. On the other hand, in March this year, CMAB submitted a paper on legislative amendments regarding the 2016 Legislative Council election to the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of this Council, proposing, among other things, to include "fellows and full members of the Information Security and Forensics Society entitled to vote at general meetings of the Society" as new electors in ITFC. However, some members of ITFC have pointed out that this proposal does not have any obvious effect on expanding ITFC. Regarding the authorities' consultation work in relation to updating the electorate of functional constituencies (FCs), will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether CMAB consulted the nine aforesaid bodies on updating the electorate of ITFC before formulating the aforesaid proposal; if it did, of the dates of the meetings and details of the discussions; the views put forward by these bodies, whether the authorities have accepted such views and the justifications for that;

(2) given that at the meeting of the Bills Committee on Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 of this Council on May 18 this year, the Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs said that the authorities had consulted the relevant bureaux when formulating proposals on updating the electorate of FCs, of the details of the views given by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to CMAB; whether the former consulted the nine aforesaid bodies before tendering such views; if it did, of the details and the correspondence exchanged, communications or records of meetings;

(3) of the bureaux which CMAB consulted on updating the electorate of FCs, and the FC electorates for which views were offered by each of the bureaux consulted;

(4) whether the practice of CMAB consulting the relevant bureaux on updating the electorate of FCs is a long-standing policy of the Government; if so, by whom and when the decision of adopting this practice was first made, and whether this practice was made public at the time; if it was made public, of the details; and

(5) whether the authorities, when reviewing the electorate of Legislative Council FCs, liaised with the relevant bodies on the definition of "eligible persons" belonging to the bodies under the FCs specified in Cap. 542, including enquiring whether the membership qualifications of such bodies had undergone any changes after such bodies were included as the bodies under FCs; whether such bodies have any statutory obligation to report such changes to the authorities; if such bodies do, of the details; whether the authorities will review afresh the definitions of "eligible persons" related to such bodies after noting that there have been changes in membership qualifications of such bodies; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The information technology functional constituency (ITFC) is one of the nine new functional constituencies (FCs) that the Government in July 1997 proposed to be set up for the 1998 Legislative Council (LegCo) election. At that time, the Government published the "Consultation Document on the Delineation of the Electorate for the New Functional Constituencies and the Election Committee for the First Legislative Council Election of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region", setting out the proposed delineation of the electorate of the nine new FCs for public consultation and stating that the proposal was drawn up following consultation with the relevant bureaux and departments (B/Ds). After considering the views received, the Government introduced the Legislative Council Bill to the Provisional LegCo, and the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) (LCO) was passed in September 1997.

     Since then, relevant B/Ds are consulted before each LegCo general election to review whether the delineation of the electorate of the FCs needs to be adjusted. Requests (e.g., from bodies for inclusion into or deletion from FCs, change of names of the bodies, etc.) received since the last review are also considered. After the review, if there is a need for adjustments, proposals will be put to the LegCo Panel on Constitutional Affairs for consultation, and then introduced in the form of a Bill to LegCo for scrutiny. The consultation and legislative process with LegCo provides opportunities for LegCo Members and the public to discuss the proposed changes.

     The Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 (the Bill) under the scrutiny by a LegCo Bills Committee at present has also gone through the same procedure. We consulted relevant B/Ds before consulting the Panel on Constitutional Affairs in March 2015. When the Bills Committee examines the Bill, it also arranged a meeting on June 9, 2015 to hear views from the public or bodies.

     For the proposals in the Bill that concern the ITFC, they were drawn up after consultation with the relevant bureau (i.e. the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau) and taking into consideration its comments. The table below sets out the bureaux which have been consulted and the corresponding FC(s) when we conducted the aforementioned review for preparing the Bill.

B/D                                FCs
1. Commerce and       1. Tourism
    Economic              2. Commercial (first)
    Development         3. Commercial (second)
    Bureau                  4. Industrial (first)
                                5. Industrial (second) 
                                6. Sports, performing arts,
                                    culture and publication 
                                7. Import and export
                                8. Textiles and garment 
                                9. Wholesale and retail
                               10. Information technology

2. Development         1. Engineering
    Bureau                 2. Architectural, surveying
                                   and planning
                               3. Real estate and

3. Education Bureau   1. Education

4. Food and Health     1. Agriculture and
    Bureau                      fisheries
                                2. Medical
                                3. Health services
                                4. Catering

5. Financial             1. Insurance
    Services and       2. Accountancy
    the Treasury       3. Finance
    Bureau               4. Financial services

6. Home Affairs        1. Heung Yee Kuk
    Bureau                2. Sports, performing arts,
                                  culture and publication
                              3. District Council (first)
                              4. District Council

7. Department of      1. Legal

8. Labour and           1. Labour
    Welfare Bureau     2. Social welfare

9. Transport and         1. Transport
     Housing Bureau     2. Real estate and

     Generally speaking, electors of individual FCs include members of bodies entitled to vote at general meetings of the bodies as provided by the bodies' constitutions. In accordance with section 3(2A) and (2B) of the LCO, amendments to or substitution of the constitutions of these bodies require the approval of the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs in writing for the purpose of defining the composition of the relevant FCs under the LCO in so far as the amendments or substitution relate to –

(a) the objects of the body; or
(b) the criteria and conditions of membership of the body; or
(c) the eligibility of members of the body to vote at a general meeting of the body.

     The above requirement is to ensure that changes made by the relevant bodies to their constitutions will not alter the electorate or the nature of the relevant FC without the approval of the Government. This requirement is effective in protecting the integrity of the electorate of the relevant FCs.
Ends/Wednesday, June 10, 2015