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LCQ13: Review of policy portfolios of policy bureaux

Following is a question by Hon Frederick Fung Kin-Kei and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 25):


In reply to my question at the Legislative Council meeting on October 18 last year, the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs said that if the third term Chief Executive (CE) took the view that it was necessary to consider reshuffling the responsibilities among the existing policy bureaux, the suggestions received in the consultation sessions held by CE prior to the delivery of the 2006/2007 Policy Address would be referred to. It has been reported that CE had indicated in his election platform that he would reshuffle the existing three departments and 11 bureaux. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has conducted an internal study of the functions and structures of various policy bureaux as well as the distribution of responsibilities among them; if so, of the preliminary results of the study, and whether the above relevant suggestions received from various sectors have been referred to and adopted; if so, of the details of those suggestions adopted;

(b) of the functions of the Development Bureau which the Chief Executive earlier proposed to set up; whether the work of this bureau will overlap with that of the existing Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau and of the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau (ETWB), whether the Government will reshuffle the responsibilities of the above two policy bureaux; and to avoid giving members of the public the impression that the Government only cares about development and neglects conservation, whether the Government will consider setting up an Environmental Protection Bureau with dedicated responsibility for environmental protection work, which currently falls within ETWB's policy portfolio, so that the Government can take forward environmental protection efforts in a more focused and independent manner; if not, of the reasons for that;

(c) given that the scope of the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau (HWFB)'s existing policy portfolio is too wide, whether the Government plans to restructure the bureau and hive off some of its functions; if so, of the details of the plan; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) whether it will consider my repeated suggestion that one single policy bureau should be designated to be responsible for labour-related matters (including employment support, unemployment assistance, protection of labour rights and upgrading of skills, etc), which are currently the respective responsibilities of HWFB and the Economic Development and Labour Bureau, so as to facilitate co-ordination of the relevant work and more effective allocation and utilisation of resources; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(e) given the public's increasing interest in culture as well as my repeated mentioning of the necessity to set up an independent bureau for cultural affairs, whether the Government will consider setting up a new Cultural Affairs Bureau to be responsible for all the work relating to culture, and to be involved in the process of formulation of policies by other policy bureaux, so that cultural concerns in the community can be fully reflected in the policies introduced by the Government; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

The Administration is studying the structure and division of responsibilities among policy bureaux of the third term HKSAR Government. In formulating the relevant proposals, the Government will take into account the views received, including those views on the reshuffling of responsibilities among policy bureaux expressed during the consultation sessions held prior to the delivery of the 2006/07 Policy Address by the Chief Executive.

Ends/Wednesday, April 25, 2007