JLG members seek to clear clogged agenda

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 December, 1994, 12:00am

THE Sino-British Joint Liaison Group (JLG) is expected to find ways to speed up work when it meets in London on Wednesday.

Chinese officials, led by new team leader Zhao Jihua, are likely to give a positive response to a proposal by the British head Hugh Davies to improve the operation of the JLG, which faces a backlog of outstanding issues.

British government spokesman in Hong Kong Bill Dickson said he was keen to see progress at the three-day session.

'We hope that they will regard this meeting, which will be the first to be attended by Mr Zhao, as an important opportunity to reach agreement on the issues which have now been on the agenda for far too long,' he said.

A source close to the JLG said the British side was anxious to urge Chinese counterparts 'to give a statement to the effect that it is in full support of the 1991 agreement' concerning the setting up of the Court of Final Appeal.

The British side believes there should be no problem with the court surviving beyond 1997 if it is set up according to the 1991 accord that laid down the ratio of local and overseas judges.

British officials will ask whether the Chinese members have queries on the draft bill.

The British team will also put forward a proposal over the adaptation of laws, following a statement by former Chinese leader Guo Fengmin that they would not accept the 'midnight legislation' arrangement.

Under the arrangement, amendments to laws to bring them into line with the Basic Law would be completed by the Legislative Council, but would take effect only at midnight on July 1, 1997.

The Government is likely to propose that discussions of laws that need to be changed be held in the JLG.

The details of the amendments would be made public before 1997 to reduce uncertainty, but no legislative process would be undertaken by the pre-1997 Legco.

The source said the Chinese side would also raise its concern over the introduction of a code of practice by the Government to enhance information access by the public.