LEGISLATORS yesterday unanimously supported moves to raise an urgent question in the Legislative Council amid growing speculation that the Government has decided to delay gazetting its bills on electoral reform. The question, drafted by veteran United Democrat Mr Szeto Wah, asks whether the Government has deferred the bills and if so, why. It still needs the approval of the newly-elected Legco President, Mr John Swaine, before it can be raised in next week's sitting, although he is expected to give it the green light. The bills giving effect to the constitutional package put forward by the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, were not gazetted yesterday, as previously expected. The Government has pledged to publish them this month. The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Michael Sze Cho-cheung, said yesterday the Government would definitely give an explanation if the bills had to be published after February. ''We have said in the past that we want to gazette the bills to implement Mr Patten's political reform within February,'' he said. ''If we are unable to publish the bills, we should give an explanation to the Legislative Council and the public.'' Legislators contacted yesterday remained divided on whether to support delaying the gazette move, saying this could be seen as a goodwill gesture to invite China's return to the negotiating table. The liberal United Democrats of Hongkong oppose any delay. Party chairman Mr Martin Lee Chu-ming said the Government had broken its promise that the bills would be tabled in Legco by the end of February. ''The delay has aroused fierce speculation and gives cause for concern for the public and Legco,'' he said. He said it was now too late for the bills to be handed to Legco by the end of February as scheduled. Legco's deliberation of the bills would not hinder Sino-British negotiations, and the two could happen at the same time, Mr Lee said. Meeting Point legislator Mr Fred Li Wah-ming said any deferment would be a sign there was something going on between the Hongkong and mainland governments, and the matter had spun out of the control of Hongkong. ''But the two governments should bear in mind that the Legco we have now is quite different from the past. They should consider local people's view on this,'' he said. Co-operative Resources Centre convenor Mr Allen Lee Peng-fei said a delay would facilitate the resumption of talks between China and Britain. He said a one to two-month delay in gazetting the bills would not cause much problem in terms of legislative procedures, and there was sufficient time for Legco to scrutinise them. Independent legislator Miss Christine Loh Kung-wai also welcomed the prospect of a re-opening of discussions between the two governments. She described it as the first step towards removing suspicions between them. Pro-China legislator Mr Tam Yiu-chung was not worried about meeting the pressing schedule. ''If we make our decision quickly and, in return, we could not get [the reforms] to straddle 1997, I do not think it's good for Hongkong,'' he said. Meanwhile, a vice-director of the local branch of the New China News Agency, Mr Zheng Kuoxiong, urged the British Government to remove any obstacles barring Britain and China from holding talks. Mr Zheng said it would not help Hongkong if the British Government created more obstacles. Asked if the delay in the gazetting of the reform bills had been a friendly gesture, Mr Zheng said it was entirely the decision of the Governor and reiterated that Mr Patten should not create further problems, as they would only serve as a bar to Sino-British talks. Mr Patten should abandon his political package, which had destroyed the channels for Sino-British co-operation, to pave way for future talks, Mr Zheng said.