There will be no legal vacuum on July 1, the former chief justice Yang Ti Liang argued yesterday. The post-handover executive councillor rejected suggestions that the Reunification Bill to ratify 13 laws passed by the provisional legislature which may not be passed until 2.45 am would be retrospective legislation. The Bill of Rights prohibits retrospective criminal offences or penalties but Mr Yang said a matter of minutes or hours would not affect it. 'Under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance which is now, of course, in effect, it says quite clearly that any law which is passed at zero hours on any particular day starts to take effect at the beginning of the day . . . So there will not be any legal vacuum,' Mr Yang told a Better Hong Kong Foundation Forum at the Dynasty Club, Wan Chai. 'I think the interpretation then to be given to the law is that if you backdate by a day, then it is retrospective, then it is not allowed because of the Bill of Rights Ordinance. 'But if it is already an ordinance starting at the beginning of the day on which the law is passed, I don't think we will interpret the law by looking at minutes and seconds and so on. 'We will interpret the law sensibly so that it works.' Secretary of Justice-designate Elsie Leung Oi-sie briefed more than 20 members of the provisional legislature yesterday on the Reunification Bill. Ms Leung said the views gathered would be included in a blue bill to be gazetted and tabled for all three readings at the interim body's first meeting in Hong Kong at 2.45 am. This would be the first bill tabled to the interim body published in the Government Gazette. The Chief Executive-designate's office said this would ensure 'the smooth passage of the bill in the small hours of July 1, 1997'. Other provisions of the law include the endorsement of the appointment of the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, adaptation of law, establishment of courts and maintenance of administration of justice, continuity of public service, the transitional Budget, and national laws as applied to Hong Kong. The draft bill, will be submitted to the interim body by way of a 'consultation document'. It will be presented to the provisional legislature at its meeting in Shenzhen tomorrow. A provisional legislature member blamed a lack of communication between the incoming and outgoing governments on the drafting of the Reunification Bill for sparking doubts over the way it was drafted. At the centre of the controversy is a crucial legislative provision which aims at ratifying 13 bills passed by the provisional legislature before July 1. Bruce Liu Sing-lee said: 'There are queries as to whether it is written in the most appropriate manner.'