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LC: Speech by SCMA on moving Second Reading of District Councils (Amendment) Bill 2013

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, on moving the Second Reading of the District Councils (Amendment) Bill 2013 at the Legislative Council today (February 20):


     I move the Second Reading of the District Councils (Amendment) Bill 2013 (the Bill).

     The object of the Bill is to amend the District Councils Ordinance (Cap. 547)(DCO) to abolish the system of appointing members to the District Councils (DC) with effect from January 1, 2016, the commencement date of the next term of office of the DCs.

     In 2010, while the Administration put forth a constitutional reform package, we undertook to put forth proposals concerning the abolition of the DC appointment system for consultation with the Legislative Council and the public.

     The Administration started a two-month public consultation on the DC appointment system in February 2012. On June 26, 2012, the Administration issued the Consultation Report on the DC Appointment System. According to the views received and the opinion polls conducted, the community supported the abolition of all DC appointed seats over one term.

     The proposed abolition of the DC appointed seats is also included in the 2013 Policy Address of the Chief Executive (CE), which states that "we will amend the legislation as soon as possible to abolish all DC appointed seats from 2016 onwards".

     The provisions of the Bill include the short title and the commencement date of the Bill (i.e. January 1, 2016). The Bill amends the DCO to repeal all references to appointed members in the DCO including the definition of appointed members; the provisions that the CE may appoint persons as members of the DCs; the eligibility criteria for a person to be appointed as a DC member; the requirement for a person appointed as a DC member to swear acceptance of office in order to become a DC member; the grounds on which a person is disqualified from holding office as an appointed member; the maximum number of members to be appointed to respective DCs.

     As consequences of the amendments to the DCO, three pieces of subsidiary legislation will also be amended accordingly. The systems of DC elected and ex officio members will not be dealt with by the Bill.

     President, the District Councils (Amendment) Bill 2013 proposed this time aims to abolish the appointed seats in the DCs, on which a consensus has been reached in the community. I hope members will support the Bill and have it passed as soon as possible.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, February 20, 2013