None of the reports filed by the Law Reform Commission since the handover has resulted in new legislation or changes to law, sparking criticism that the administration is slow to act on matters of legislation. One legislator said the findings proved correct Premier Zhu Rongji's criticism of the Government as indecisive. The Law Reform Commission is a part of the Department of Justice but operates largely independently of the department. The commission studies the need to legislate or update laws on issues referred to it by policy bureaus, with the approval of the Secretary for Justice or Chief Justice. The commission's reports since July 1997 have covered issues ranging from civil liabilities for unsafe products to a law on stalking and a new system for winding up companies. Only one of the proposals - raising the age of criminal responsibility - has been drafted as a bill, while two others have been released only this year. Of the other five, two are still being considered by policy bureaus, two are unlikely to be implemented and one does not require legislation. Of 33 other reports published between the commission's founding in 1981 and June 1997, 25 resulted in law changes or the formation of watchdogs such as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data. Barrister and independent legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who has sat on several commission sub-committees, said the figures seemed to confirm Mr Zhu's allegations. In September, Mr Zhu said of Hong Kong: 'We cannot always discuss without decisions, make decisions without execution.' Ms Eu said: 'I think it actually reflects what Zhu Rongji had commented about this Government, that a lot of time is spent discussing and commenting, but finally, nothing is implemented.' Democratic legislator James To Kun-sun said the figures raised concerns about the status of the commission since the handover. 'Previously the [commission] was a very powerful committee, but now collectively the policy branches seem to care little about the recommendations,' he said. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, representing the legal sector, said it was worrying that the Government was increasingly using the excuse of an economic slump to delay or reject good laws. Ms Ng was referring to a report on civil liability for unsafe products released in February, 1998, which is still awaiting action by the Economic Services Bureau because of objections from retailers who worry it would drive up business costs. 'It seems increasingly in the past few years there has been a polarisation - good laws, protection of property rights and interests and safety, even protection of workers, has to be kept back because it will increase the cost of doing business,' she said. The Economic Services Bureau said the civil liability report drew impassioned responses from traders as well as farmers and fishermen who worried about being held liable for bad fish or poor-quality produce. The report on sales descriptions of overseas flats, issued in September 1997, was held up because of lobbying by property developers, Ms Eu said. 'Consumer interest representation is quite weak in Hong Kong. Even mainland law is far more advanced in its standards of consumer protection,' she said. The Housing Bureau said a developers' trade association had issued guidelines on the issue and they were 'monitoring the situation to see if it is enough'. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, an assistant law professor at the University of Hong Kong who had been a commission member for six years, said the Government was slow in responding to its reports. 'A deadline between three to six months should be set for the administration to accept a report. Such practice is now common among other bodies' investigations, such as the Ombudsman and Legco's public accounts committee,' he said. Commission secretary Stuart Stoker acknowledged reports took a long time to be handled, but said with complex issues, this was understandable. 'The important thing is that the administration gives [the commission] reports a full, fair and timely consideration and that proposals do not languish unaddressed in a government pending tray,' he said.