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LC: Speech by SCMA in moving the District Councils Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 3) Order 2013

     Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in moving the District Councils Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 3) Order 2013 in the Legislative Council today (November 6):

Acting President,

     I move that the motion on the District Councils Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 3) Order 2013 (the Order), as printed on the Agenda, be passed. The purpose of this piece of subsidiary legislation is to increase the number of elected seats of nine District Councils (DCs) by 19, starting from the fifth-term DCs which will commence operation on January 1, 2016.

     The proposed increase in the number of elected seats is based on the forecast of the population in Hong Kong by mid-2015 (i.e., 7 311 300), the continued application of a population quota of about 17 000 residents to one DC elected seat, the abolition of DC appointed seats from the fifth-term DCs onwards, and the increasingly important role that DCs are expected to play in district administration.

     Our specific recommendation is to increase the number of elected seats by one for the Tsuen Wan and North DCs respectively; by two for the Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Kwun Tong, Yau Tsim Mong and Sha Tin DCs respectively; by three for the Sai Kung DC; and by four for the Yuen Long DC.

     The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau consulted the Legislative Council Panel on Constitutional Affairs and the Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the 18 DCs on the proposal in May this year, and obtained their general support. The Chief Executive in Council made the Order at the Executive Council meeting on June 25, 2013. The House Committee of the Legislative Council examined the Order at its meeting on July 5 and decided that there was a need to form a Subcommittee on Subsidiary Legislation to scrutinise the Order. The Subcommittee on Subsidiary Legislation has completed the scrutiny after holding two meetings.

     I wish to take this opportunity to thank the work of the Hon Ip Kwok-him, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Subsidiary Legislation and other Subcommittee members. I understand that during the discussion, the Subcommittee has suggested the Administration to consider whether the circumstances in Tung Chung warrants the provision of one more elected seat for the Islands DC. I would like to make a brief response to this issue. According to the population projections provided by the authorities, the projected population for the Islands District in mid-2015 is 148 700. According to the methodology adopted in reviewing the number of elected seats in all DCs, the number of elected seats of the Islands DC shall be 8.6. However, taking into consideration that the operations of the DCs will be affected after the abolition of the DC appointed seats and the more important role that the DCs are expected to assume in district administration, etc., the Administration has decided to maintain the existing number of elected seats of the Islands DC at 10. The same arrangement is also applicable to four other DCs. The Administration considers that the current proposal is put forward on the basis of objective data and reasonable considerations. As for the projected increase in population brought about by the completion of new residential developments in Tung Chung, they will be dealt with in the context of the next review exercise for the DC ordinary election because the completion and in-take period for most of the developments will be beyond mid-2015.

     Subject to the approval of the District Councils Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 3) Order 2013 by the Legislative Council today, the Electoral Affairs Commission will make recommendations for the demarcation of constituency boundaries for the 2015 DC election next year having regard to the revised number of DC elected seats. The Registration and Electoral Office will also make preparation for the conduct of the 2015 DC ordinary election in accordance with the revised number of DC elected seats.

     With the above, I invite Members to approve the District Councils Ordinance (Amendment of Schedule 3) Order 2013 to implement the increase of 19 elected seats for the fifth-term DCs.

     Thank you, Acting President.

Ends/Wednesday, November 6, 2013