Legislators-elect were at odds yesterday as to whether they could propose amendments requiring public expenditure. Article 74 of the Basic Law requires legislators to obtain the Chief Executive's consent before submitting bills related to public expenditure, but it does not mention amendments to bills. Given such power, legislators could pass amendments, such as expanding social services or cutting rates. The Legco committee on rules of procedure decided yesterday to defer the dispute for action when the new council is in place. 'Of course we want a loose interpretation of our legislative power, but first of all we have to abide by the Basic Law,' said Dr Leong Che-hung, who convened the meeting. The Frontier will seek to amend the Standing Orders to maximise legislative power. 'If the Basic Law doesn't restrain us, why should we restrain ourselves?' the group's Lee Cheuk-yan asked. But Democrat Lee Wing-tat said he had reservations about distorting parliamentary tradition. 'With such power we'd be doing more than placing checks and balances on the Government,' he said. 'Even though our capacity is limited by this undemocratic political system, I don't want to expand our power in this way.' Independent Andrew Wong Wang-fat warned The Frontier that it would be 'playing with fire'. 'Of course they can interpret the article in the worst possible light, but actually they're damaging the parliamentary system,' he said. Professor Lau Siu-kai, of Chinese University, said it was ridiculous to suggest the Basic Law allowed legislators' amendments to have a charging effect. 'The mini-constitution is made to kill legislative initiatives and to entrench executive power,' he said. 'It's entirely impossible for the constitution drafters to shut the front door while leaving the back door open.'