Twenty-nine ordinances enacted in or before 2004 contained provisions that have yet to be enforced, a submission by the government to the Legislative Council has shown.
The paper, to be discussed at today's meeting of the administration of justice and legal services panel, showed that the oldest ordinance dated to the 1960s.
The provisions of the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance require an owner of equipment to register, appoint an examiner to test it before first use and periodically thereafter, and to notify the authorities of the date of first use and of subsequent sale or change of address.
One of the main reasons the provisions were not enforced was that equipment had been largely replaced by technologically more advanced cookers or stoves, fuelled by liquefied petroleum gas or kerosene pumped directly to burners by an electric pump, the paper said.
It also said pressurised fuel containers were used mostly by hawkers and cooked-food stalls.
'It is very difficult to keep track of the owners and the equipment, and results in difficulty in enforcement,' the paper said. 'The Labour and Welfare Bureau or the Labour Department has no plan to bring the provisions into operation.'
The second-oldest law on the list is the Labour Relations Ordinance, enacted in 1975. This empowers the Chief Executive in Council to impose a cooling-off period of, initially, not more than 30 days - with a possible extension to 60 days - in an industrial dispute that could cause grave harm to the economy and welfare of society.
The government said the provisions had not been enforced because there had been no major labour disputes warranting their use. It also said it had no plans to enforce the provisions.
In response to a request by legislators, the administration agreed to provide the panel with an updated list once every two years on the commencement of bills passed by the legislature.