A COMMITTEE of Legislative Councillors yesterday voted to scrutinise the Governor Chris Patten's democratic reform legislation in a decision almost certain to anger China. With pro-democracy legislators impatient with the failure of Sino-British talks to produce any deal yet on the territory's political future, the Constitutional Development Panel voted to start discussing the bill next week even though Mr Patten has delayed it to give the Beijing negotiations a chance. China and Britain completed a fourth round of the secret talks on Saturday but gave no indication of any progress, apart from announcing the next round will be held from June 14 to 16. Mr Patten said yesterday he was confident the committee's decision to discuss the bill in three special meetings from June 7 would not be an obstacle to the talks. United Democrats chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming initiated the move at yesterday's panel meeting, gaining majority support when Meeting Point legislator Leong Che-hung and liberal Jimmy McGregor voted with the seven United Democrats. The conservative Liberal Party's only representative, Peter Wong Hong-yuen, left before the proposal was discussed. Veteran legislator Elsie Tu and Chim Pui-chung objected to the move, fearing the talks would be hampered. Mr Lee said the discussions, which sought to identify all problematic areas of the bill, could shorten the time required to pass the bill when and if it was eventually tabled in the Legislative Council. ''The Government has said the scrutinising work of the bill and the talks could take place at the same time,'' Mr Lee said. ''We don't have to wait until after the talks have finished.'' The liberals were, however, quick to say the meetings would not come up with any binding decisions. A report will be presented to other legislators for reference only. Mr Patten said the move would not pose an obstacle to the smooth progress of the Sino-British talks. ''No, I think study is always a constructive way for approaching problems. That is to study matters first rather than to make a lot of noise before you study the issues,'' he said. ''So I don't think that studying that proposals put forward last October which have been debated in a number of occasions in the Legislative Council could in any way be an obstacle to the smooth progress of the talks which we hope, all of us, lead in duecourse to a satisfactory conclusion.'' Meanwhile, the Liberal Party's Allen Lee Peng-fei cold-shouldered the plan as a useless gesture. ''If they want to study the bill, they should leave it to a bills committee in the future, that is the right place to study a bill,'' Mr Lee said. ''The UDHK's intention is obvious. They wants to push the Hongkong Government to put the bill to undergo first and second reading. ''When the Government refuses to do so, they resort to this method,'' he said. But Mr Lee did not predict the move would block the Sino-British talks. ''They always want to provoke China. ''But I don't think we should take it too seriously,'' he said.