Interim body sees how to pass laws before July

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 March, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 March, 1997, 12:00am

The provisional legislature has taken legal advice on how it could pass laws before the handover, according to a senior member of the body.

Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee of the Liberal Party, who is convenor of the working group drafting the rules of procedure, said there were three options to choose from: Bills could be tabled to the provisional legislature for first, second and third readings before July 1 and then endorsed by the chief executive on July 1; The interim body would hear the first and second readings of bills before July 1 but leave the third until after that date; Bills would be scrutinised but the three readings would be left until after the handover.

Mrs Chow said: 'They are all in line with what was set down in the Preparatory Committee.

'However, in order to avoid controversy and having considered the views within the community, the working group will conduct widespread consultation before making a final decision.' The chairman of the Democratic Party, Martin Lee Chu-ming, who is a Queen's Counsel, said that the only way for the provisional legislature to avoid legal challenges was not to table any bills for reading before the handover.

'Before July 1, it will make no difference as to whether bills are tabled for first, second or third readings,' Mr Lee said.

However, he warned: 'These laws will be subject to challenge after the handover when passed by the provisional legislature.' Mrs Chow said members' views would be canvassed before the working group met again this Saturday and Sunday.

She hoped the rules of procedure would be ready for passing at the next session of the provisional legislature on March 22.

Asked about the gazetting of bills, Mrs Chow said that she would ensure there would be a channel to notify and consult the public, as in the form of a White Bill, before the handover.

On the system of committees, Mr Chow said that the working group saw a pressing need to set up a finance committee, a house committee and a declaration of interests committee.

Others to be established included select committees and a public accounts committee.