Officials have been urged to scrap government-appointed district council seats and to broaden the franchise of the elite-based functional constituencies in the next Legislative Council polls. Pro-democracy groups, including The Frontier and the Power for Democracy, yesterday expressed concern over the electoral arrangements and the pace of democracy during a meeting with Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung. The activists called for moves to broaden the electorate of the profession- and trade-based functional constituencies in the next elections in 2004. The 30 functional constituency seats have fewer than 180,000 voters at present. The groups also demanded the scrapping in elections next year of the 102 appointed district council seats, account for one-fifth of all seats. Appointed seats were undemocratic, they said. The Basic Law allows for universal suffrage in elections for the chief executive and the Legislative Council from 2007 onwards. The government has promised wide public consultation on the way forward at the appropriate time. Speaking after the meeting, Mr Lam said the government had already decided on a 'no-change' approach regarding the appointed seats at district council elections. The views calling for a bigger functional constituency electorate would be carefully considered. He said both sides should adopt the attitude of 'widening their common ground and accommodating mutual differences'. 'We would stand a better chance of forming a broadly based consensus in taking this exercise forward,' he said. Mr Lam stressed the principle of 'gradual and orderly progress' when reviewing the constitutional development according to the Basic Law. He promised sufficient time to accommodate the necessary changes to local laws and other mechanisms prescribed in the Basic Law. Meanwhile, two candidates yesterday signed up to contest the by-election for a seat on Kowloon City District Council. They are Lam Ming, of the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance, and Bruce Liu Sing-lee, the candidate of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood. The seat was rendered vacant by the suicide last month of David Chu Chor-sing, 45, of the Progressive Alliance. The ballot will start on November 3 following a two-week nomination period which closes on September 26.