Commission says it is being ignored

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2005, 12:00am

Lack of government action on law reform proposals is a waste, says legislator

Members of the Law Reform Commission are disappointed at the government's lack of action on a series of reports made in the past eight years on issues ranging from stalking to consumer rights.

Of 16 reports the commission has issued since the handover, only one has been acted upon. This compares with 26 out of 33 reports before the change of sovereignty.

Commission head Stuart Stoker said members of the commission and its sub-committees had regularly expressed concern at the government's failure to implement the commission's recommendations 'in a timely fashion'.

Barrister-legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee described the lack of action as a total waste.

The commission is an independent body that forms sub-committees of experts to produce consultation papers on important topics referred to it by the secretary for justice and the chief justice.

The sub-committees - often including judges, senior academics and industry representatives - study laws in other jurisdictions before issuing the consultation papers. Based on the results, the commission issues reports with recommendations to government bureaus for action, such as legislative changes.

'Every commission report is the result of detailed analysis and discussion,' Mr Stoker said. 'A public consultation exercise is carried out in every case before the commission finalises its recommendations. Each report reflects input from a sub-committee of persons with expertise in the area under review.

'Given this background, it is reasonable to expect that any commission report will be accorded proper and timely consideration by the government.'

John Bacon-Shone, who chaired a sub-committee on stalking almost five years ago, said it was hard to accept such a delay.

'I am disappointed that nothing much has happened on the stalking report because that is an example of people continuing to suffer because of legislation not being put into place,' he said.

Ms Eu, who has chaired committees on consumer rights, said the government should be held accountable for not acting on reports that resulted from public consultation and in-depth research.

'It is a total waste, and I think the government and the secretary for justice ought to explain why this is.'

A spokeswoman for Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said issues handled in commission reports were usually complicated and often controversial and the government had to consider their implications for existing policy.

'More importantly, the government must consult stakeholders. For instance, the public expressed divergent views on the proposal for a mandatory cooling off period for either party to a sales agreement ... one of the main recommendations in the Report on Description of Flats on Sale,' she said.