|LCQ4: Arrangements for Legislative Council election
Following is a question by the Hon Martin Lee and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (June 13).
In its Concluding Observations, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights pointed out that the current arrangements for the election of the Legislative Council include some undemocratic features which impede the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of its plan to improve the method for forming the Legislative Council in order to achieve "the ultimate aim" of "the election of all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage", as stipulated in Article 68 of the Basic Law; and
(b) whether, prior to the submission of the second report on the HKSAR to the Committee in 2003, it will conduct public consultation on the direct election of all members of the Legislative Council on a one-person-one-vote basis, the voting procedure of the Legislative Council and the provisions of Article 74 of the Basic Law regarding the introduction of bills by Members of the Legislative Council, and submit the outcome of the consultation to the Committee for its reference; if so, of the timetable for the consultation?
As regards the first part of the Question, the blueprint for Hong Kong's future constitutional development has already been drawn up in the Basic Law. The number of directly elected seats in the Legislative Council will increase progressively from 20 in the first term to 24 in the second. In 2004, there will be 30 directly elected seats in the third term of Legislative Council, constituting half of the total membership. The ultimate aim is the election of all members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage. We will introduce the relevant bill to the Legislative Council in due course to make specific arrangements for the 2004 Legislative Council Election. Regarding the fourth and subsequent terms of the Legislative Council, Annex II to the Basic Law has already provided a mechanism for the HKSAR to determine on its own the method for the formation of the Legislative Council after 2007.
After the reunification, the Government of the HKSAR has, in accordance with the timetable laid down in the Basic Law, held the first and second Legislative Council elections in 1998 and 2000 respectively. The number of directly elected seats in the Legislative Council formed by the above elections has also been increased progressively according to the Basic Law in order to realise the principle of gradual and orderly progress.
As regards the second part of the Question, when reviewing the issue of constitutional arrangements subsequent to the year 2007, including the method for the formation of the Legislative Council and its voting procedures, we are committed to conducting an extensive consultation so as to ensure sufficient and full public participation in the review process. In fact, we have been discussing with the Legislative Council and its Panel on Constitutional Affairs issues concerning constitutional development and the relationship between the executive and legislative authorities.
In January last year, a motion debate on constitutional arrangements was moved in the Legislative Council. Subsequent to the motion debate, the Panel on Constitutional Affairs invited all sectors of the community to submit representations to the Panel on the question of constitutional arrangements. After examining the representations and views of the public, the Panel on Constitutional Affairs published a report in June last year and a motion was passed by the Legislative Council urging the Administration to consider the recommendations of the report. In response to a recent request of the Panel on Constitutional Affairs, we briefed members of the Panel on the follow-up actions taken by the Administration with regard to the recommendations of the report yesterday.
As for the question concerning Article 74 of the Basic Law, it mainly involves a difference in understanding between the executive and legislative authorities of certain provisions of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council and the relevant articles of the Basic Law. The two sides are still in discussion over this particular issue.
We would continue the dialogue with Members on constitutional development and other related issues through the Legislative Council and the Panel. We will also in due course conduct extensive consultation on the important issue of constitutional development. In discussing the issue, we will have due regard to the overall interests, development and needs of the Hong Kong Community. But, we have no intention of submitting the public views to the relevant UN Committee in the form of a report.
End/Wednesday, June 13, 2001