Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in moving the Second Reading of the Adaptation of Laws Bill 2009 in the Legislative Council meeting today (February 11):
I move that the Adaptation of Laws Bill 2009 be read the second time.
There are three offices set up by the Central People’s Government (CPG) in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). These three offices are, namely, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR; the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the HKSAR; and the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
There are provisions in the Basic Law which make it clear that the offices set up by the CPG in the HKSAR and their personnel must abide by the laws of the HKSAR. According to Article 22(3), “[a]ll offices set up in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by departments of the Central Government, or by provinces, autonomous regions, or municipalities directly under the Central Government, and the personnel of these offices shall abide by the laws of the Region.” Article 14(4) of the Basic Law also stipulates that “[i]n addition to abiding by national laws, members of the garrison shall abide by the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”
That the offices set up by the CPG in the HKSAR and their personnel must abide by the laws of the HKSAR is, therefore, very clear. In this regard, I would like to make clear the following two points :
(a) Firstly, according to section 66 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance, a legislation does not bind the State unless it expressly says so or it appears by necessary implication that this was so intended. This principle is commonly adopted by some other common law jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Under the Basic Law, Hong Kong remains a common law jurisdiction and this principle continues to apply here.
(b) Secondly, the circumstances of different ordinances are different, and the scope of applicability of an ordinance should reflect the policy intention. As a matter of fact, in Hong Kong, only some ordinances expressly provide for their application to the HKSAR Government.
Regarding the ordinances which currently expressly bind the HKSAR Government, there are 16 where the HKSAR Government has been studying and discussing with the relevant authorities of the CPG as to whether and how these ordinances can be made applicable to the offices set up by the CPG in the HKSAR. Progress has been made. In accordance with the consensus attained, we are introducing the present Bill in the 2008-09 legislative session to amend four ordinances, namely The Legislative Council Commission Ordinance, the Plant Varieties Protection Ordinance, the Patents Ordinance and the Registered Designs Ordinance.
Purpose and content of the Bill
The Bill seeks to amend these four ordinances to provide that these four ordinances will, apart from the HKSAR Government, also apply to the three offices set up by the CPG in the HKSAR.
Moreover, the Bill also seeks to include in the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance a definition of “Offices set up by the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”, which means the three offices mentioned at the beginning of my speech.
President, with these remarks, I would like to appeal to Members to support the Bill.
Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, February 11, 2009