Protesters on the streets showing their opposition to the handover could be arrested for breaching public order laws to be made active on the stroke of midnight. Incoming Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie said that 13 laws making up the Reunification Bill, including controversial amendments to the Public Order Ordinance, would become effective from midnight, although they would not be passed until about 3am. She told the final pre-handover meeting of the provisional legislature that common law practice was that legislation should be regarded as active from zero hour of its promulgation. 'If someone deliberately makes use of the few hours of legal vacuum, I don't think they should complain about the law having retrospective effect,' she said. But University of Hong Kong legal expert Dr Nihal Jayawickrama said the Basic Law did not support Ms Leung's argument. 'As far as the Basic Law is concerned, if they pass that law at 3am, then at best it is valid at 3am. It cannot be a minute earlier,' he said. Support for pro-democracy parties was rising a week before the handover, a poll for the South China Morning Post revealed. Two-thirds of the people who had made up their minds said they backed the Democratic Party, The Frontier, Citizen's Party or Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, though 37 per cent said they did not know who they would vote for if there was an election that day. The Democrats were the most popular, with 43.8 per cent of decided voters, followed by the Liberal Party at 15.1 per cent. Mainland children were set to take the Government to court to fight for right of abode, it emerged. The Society for Community Organisation said it would take several children who had been in hiding after entering Hong Kong illegally to the Immigration Department. Authorities would be asked to issue them with identity cards. If they were refused, legal action could follow to get clarification on the Basic Law which grants the children of permanent residents the right to live in Hong Kong. Thousands of foreign journalists were flocking to tours of cage homes and rat-infested temporary housing areas, leaving official press conferences nearly empty. Welfare groups said they had been inundated with requests to interview the cagemen and new immigrants. Cageman Au Hung, 53, was stunned by the attention. 'They can't even turn around, with their cameras and lights, in our cramped flat,' he said. 'They spent more than two hours in the flat, sweating profusely.' But when Secretary for Housing Dominic Wong Shing-wah gave a briefing on housing policies, only about a dozen foreign journalists turned up. Mr Wong and his government colleagues were accused by an academic study group of trying to make speculators the scapegoats for the volatile property market while continuing to restrict housing supply. A report by the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics said: 'It seems that when government policies fail, a convenient scapegoat is always needed - enter the speculator.' WHAT THEY SAID 'It is atrocious that we are about to see the last of the democratically elected Legislative Council replaced by people they [Beijing officials] have appointed. That's bad.' Hugh Davies, leader of the British team on the Joint Liaison Group. FOR THE RECORD The Hang Seng Index stood at 15,154.36, up 647.87 points. TAKING THE PULSE More than 43 per cent of people would have voted for pro-democracy parties if an election was held, but 37 per cent had not decided.