IF the Governor's Business Council has a motto, it ought to be ''to do good by stealth''. For this collection of the great and the good, gathered by Mr Patten within three months of arriving in Hongkong, has yet to reveal anything of its workings. Despite having 18 of Hongkong's most prominent businessmen on the council, information on the meetings and the advice the Governor receives remains minimal. At the time of its establishment in October last year, the aims set out for the council were clear and ambitious. It was to develop competition policy to protect consumers, maintain Hongkong as a key business location in Asia, modify anti-business practices by government departments, maximise Hongkong's potential and promote trade and industry, including inward investment. The composition of the board immediately ran into criticism. It lacked the input of the smaller businessmen, complained some, while others made the point that competition for their own companies was the last thing any of the council members wanted. Despite the silence from the council itself, officials strongly deny that it has faded away. Cherry Ling, principal assistant secretary for trade and industry and the effective secretary of the council, said the agreement to meet every two months had been scrupulously kept. Despite international travel and hectic schedules there were rarely more than a couple of missing faces, and five away from the same meeting was the worst case, said Miss Ling. But the substance of the meetings - which usually last two hours - is classified. Competition has been a regular topic, but what advice has been offered to Mr Patten cannot be divulged. Maintaining confidentiality, it seems, is necessary to allow members of the council to speak freely, safe in the knowledge that they will not be besieged by the media for insights into their deliberations.