Plan to create new top legal posts scrapped

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 1996, 12:00am

A proposal to create two top posts in the Legal Department was withdrawn yesterday when legislators questioned their necessity.

The Government had proposed that two permanent Deputy Crown Counsel posts be set up to handle Legislative Council and constitutional matters.

It said a post dedicated to Legco work was needed to help Attorney-General Jeremy Mathews' work with Legco.

'He [the Attorney-General] is speaking in more motion debates - six in the last session as compared to one in each of the previous two sessions - and is attending more meetings of committees and panels than before - eight in the last session, as compared to five in 1993-94 and four in 1992-93,' the Government said.

However, Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong said he did not see any justification for creating a post especially for Legco-related work.

'I see no top officials who don't need to come to Legco frequently to explain government policies and answer our questions,' he told yesterday's Legco Establishment sub-committee.

'I don't see why the Attorney-General needs such a top official to help just because he comes to the council more often. And he rarely came to Legco meetings before.' Solicitor-General Daniel Fung said there should be a senior official in the Legal Department dedicated to Legco-related work.

'We can't continue to borrow officers to do it part-time as the work related to Legco has increased in both intensity and professionalism,' he said.

Another Democrat, Dr Huang Chen-ya, questioned why the Government proposed to set up another permanent post of Deputy Crown Counsel to look at whether local laws were consistent with the Basic Law.

'Does it mean the Government wants to create a permanent position so that the counsel will be seconded to help the Preparatory Committee and even the future provisional legislature?' he asked.

Mr Fung said there was no plan to second individual officials to the Preparatory Committee and the Government had made it clear it would be unable to give assistance to the provisional legislature. He said legal advice would only be given to the Government.