The first chief executive will be named in November, with nominations for the 400-member Selection Committee opening officially on Thursday. Sources said the latest thinking in Beijing on the timetable was revealed by Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Director Lu Ping at a private gathering with Preparatory Committee members. He said the Selection Committee was to be in place in October to choose the chief executive in November and the provisional legislature in December. Preparatory Committee members are expected to endorse the criteria for Selection Committee candidates before the plenum closes today. Nominations will close on September 14 - two weeks earlier than originally planned, although there will be a month in which to declare candidacy. Chairman of the committee Qian Qichen had said previously that the chief executive would be named by the end of the year. Chinese officials, including Xinhua (New China News Agency) director Zhou Nan and other members, said the timetable had not been moved forward. But they said the present timetable allowed more time for setting up the Special Administrative Region government. Mainland co-convenor of the Selection Committee sub-group Xiao Weiyun said the original closing time for nomination was not convenient because it would coincide with the eve of China's National Day, October 1. The British Government's spokesman in Hong Kong, Bill Dickson, said the position was the earlier the chief executive was named the better. 'It gives the Hong Kong Government more time to prepare for the transition and remove uncertainty. It can only be a good thing,' he said. In his opening speech, Mr Qian described the nomination as 'historic' because 'Hong Kong people will be able to participate in democratic politics for the first time in history'. Head of the Political Affairs Department of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Xu Ze said officials had requested a list of all registered groups from the Government for them to confirm the background of nominations. They had also asked for API (announcement of public interest) time slots through the Government's Liaison Office to publicise the nomination drive. The short announcement will be jointly produced by China's Central Television and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. Mr Xu revealed his office would send a team to Hong Kong to assist the committee's Secretariat in processing nominations.