Press councils are a basic part of journalism in many countries, the Law Reform Commission said yesterday. Such bodies already existed in many developing and developed nations, the commission said in a report which named more than 30 countries which had them. Compiling its report, the commission studied closely the press councils or similar bodies of eight jurisdictions: Australia, Canada, Germany, Peru, Sweden, Taiwan, Britain and the United States. The powers the commission has recommended for the Hong Kong council exceed theirs. The press bodies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden can only investigate and reprimand newspapers or magazines that are members and, in some cases, only through voluntary co-operation. The recommendations by the Law Reform Commission are drawn extensively on Britain's experience in handling press complaints in the post-World War II era. It recommends putting in practice proposals rejected by the last Conservative government. The original General Council of the Press set up in 1953 in Britain had responsibilities for both press freedom and making it accountable, but it had no enforcement power. The Press Council that replaced it began to handle complaints. It had an adjudication policy on privacy but no code of practice. The Press Complaints Commission set up in 1991 expanded its powers to handle complaints and no longer considered press freedom its responsibility. A year later, the Calcutt Review recommended the setting up of a statutory press complaints tribunal that most resembles the press council recommended by the Law Reform Commission yesterday with wide-ranging powers. The proposal was rejected by the Conservative administration because it feared it would open the Government to accusations of censoring the press.