Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in moving the second reading of the Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2011 in the Legislative Council meeting today (May 4):
I move the Second Reading of the Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2011 (the Bill).
The Bill amends various pieces of legislation to introduce changes to electoral and related arrangements for returning the Chief Executive (CE) and the Village Representatives (VR) and the formation of the Legislative Council (LegCo) and District Councils (DC), which includes mainly the appeal mechanism for election petitions, the arrangements for candidates to send promotional letters free of postage and the financial assistance scheme for the DC election. The Bill also makes technical adjustments as regards election expenses, and makes related and incidental amendments.
Appeal Mechanism for Election Petitions
Regarding election petition appeals, the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) and the Court of Appeal declared in December last year and March this year respectively the "finality provision" in the Legislative Council Ordinance and the District Councils Ordinance to be unconstitutional and invalid. In response to the relevant judgements, the Bill proposes to amend the appeal mechanism in relation to an election petition arising from the LegCo, DC and VR elections in order to introduce a leap-frog mechanism similar to that contained in the Chief Executive Election Ordinance.
Under the proposed mechanism, an appeal against the decision of the Court of First Instance in relation to an election petition arising from a LegCo, DC, and VR election, including a by-election, may be lodged to the CFA direct, subject to leave being granted by the Appeal Committee of the CFA. This arrangement will facilitate the speedy resolution of disputes in relation to the constitution of the LegCo and DC as well as the office of a VR.
Free Postage Arrangements for Candidates
Regarding promotional letters sent by candidates free of postage to electors, the existing legislation specifies that the letters must contain materials relating only to the candidature of the candidate at the election concerned.
Some LegCo Members have proposed that candidates of different constituencies should be allowed to print their campaign materials in the same promotional letter to be sent free of postage. Having regard to their views, the Government proposes to introduce legislative amendments to allow candidates to send promotional letters to the same elector/voter under the following three situations:
(a) a list of candidates in a LegCo geographical constituency and a list of candidates in the DC (second) functional constituency (FC);
(b) candidates in the LegCo Labour FC which has three seats; and
(c) candidates standing for election in the same Election Committee (EC) subsector which has multiple number of seats.
We believe that this would enable different parties and groupings to enhance the campaign publicity for their candidates at the same election and would also save paper.
Election Expenses Limit for CE Election
For the CE election, the Bill proposes to increase the election expenses limit from $9.5 million (which has been applicable since 2001) to $13 million. The increase has taken into account the cumulative inflation rate of 12.8 per cent from 2000 to 2012; the impact on the mode of canvassing as a result of the expansion of the EC and the revised voting system of the CE election; and the need for additional expense items in light of the experience in the previous CE elections.
Financial Assistance Scheme for DC Election
For the DC election, the Bill proposes that the subsidy rate for the financial assistance scheme for candidates will be revised from the lower of $10 per vote or 50 per cent of the declared election expenses to the lower of $12 per vote or 50 per cent of the election expenses limit, provided that the subsidy amount does not exceed the amount of the declared election expenses of the candidates. The revised financial assistance scheme for the 2011 DC election will be the same as that for the 2012 LegCo election.
The Bill also proposes to increase the election expenses limit of the DC election from $48,000 to $53,800. The amendment has taken into consideration the cumulative inflation rate of 12 per cent from 2008 to 2011.
President, following the passage of the Chief Executive Election (Amendment) Bill 2010 and the Legislative Council (Amendment) Bill 2010 by the LegCo on March 3 and March 5 respectively, the Administration has been making preparations actively for the four elections to be held in 2011 and 2012. The proposed Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2011 seeks to amend the related electoral arrangements for the elections. I hope that Members will support the passage of the Bill as soon as possible so that the revised electoral arrangements can be implemented for the 2011 DC election in November and the other elections afterwards.
Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, May 4, 2011