Urgent clarification is being sought of the number of mainland children entitled to right of abode after the handover. It was impossible to work out a long-term solution if the facts were not clear, Secretary of Justice-designate Elsie Leung Oi-sie said yesterday. 'The difficulty for the SAR exco is that we do not have the information,' she said. 'We listened to, on one hand, Guangdong putting the figure at 130,000, and on the other, the Government saying there were about 33,000. 'We don't know which is correct. If Guangdong is correct, it may take five or six years for all of them to come on the basis of the quota of 66 a day.' Ms Leung said she felt the quota could be increased if the territory's resources were able to cope. The future legal chief admitted legal opinion varied on whether mainland children who arrived illegally in the territory could be sent back after the handover. She said one argument was the children had to exercise their right of abode through legal channels. 'How to deal with the issue in SAR laws is a matter for exco . . . I think the issue is more a policy matter than a legal matter,' she said. Ms Leung said Lu Ping, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, had discussed Preparatory Committee proposals about right of abode during her visit to Beijing on Monday. 'It was not an attempt to interfere with our legislative work,' she said. 'Their findings have provided a good reference for us . . . it is not binding on us.' Ms Leung said the immigration authorities would take into account various factors when deciding whether non-Chinese nationals were habitually resident in the territory. She said those who did not own a flat in Hong Kong, but had property overseas, might not necessarily be classified as having no habitual residence in the territory. 'You still have to look at their behaviour such as whether they stay overseas most of the time and take Hong Kong as their home,' Ms Leung said.