The administration was to blame for the row over housing benefits for senior Hospital Authority staff, the Public Accounts Committee said. The committee investigated the policy after the Director of Audit reported that the authority's housing benefits were out of line with the civil service. Its 3,150 senior staff would be paid $6.7 billion more than their civil service counterparts over 20 years. And married staff were able to collect double housing benefits, but civil service couples could only collect one. The lack of a clear definition of cost comparability gave rise to different interpretations of the policy between the Director of Audit, the administration and the authority, the committee said. The administration has refused to disclose how the Executive Council made the decision on benefits. Committee chairman Eric Li Ka-cheung said: 'We do not consider it the proper role of the committee to decide or adjudicate policy matters when the administration's own policy is silence. The role falls squarely on the administration.' Mr Li said the Government should define the policy clearly, and review the Hospital Authority remuneration package. There should be no double benefits for employees whose spouses were eligible for a housing allowance, the committee ruled. But the difficulties of enforcing this on current staff were recognised. Dr Andrew Yip Wai-chun, of the Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association, said there would be industrial action if the new double benefits rule were applied to existing staff. Legislator Dr Leong Che-hung, a Hospital Authority member, also disagreed with the report, saying there was a clear definition of cost comparability at the time when the staff package was designed. The Hospital Authority said that it was reviewing the pay package, but stressed the double-benefit rule had been factored into the costing of the entire package.