CHIEF Secretary Sir David Ford is expected to be given a three-year contract to become the next Commissioner to London. This would extend his service to just a few months before the handover to China and beyond the normal retirement age of 60. Sir David, who will turn 59 next February, is expected to step down at the end of November to enable Secretary for the Civil Service Anson Chan Fang On-sang to become the first local Chief Secretary. The arrangement for Sir David is likely to upset local officers during a bitter row between the administration and staff over the Government's localisation policy. Sir David's appointment and Mrs Chan's elevation to the top post is expected to be made today as part of a top-level reshuffle. The Governor, Chris Patten, is expected to make the announcement himself, accompanied by Sir David and Mrs Chan, after this morning's Executive Council meeting. In another move, former top aide to Mr Patten, Richard Hoare is expected to be appointed Director of Administration to succeed Nicholas Ng Wing-fui. Mr Hoare stepped down as Mr Patten's private secretary at the end of last year and was promoted to the D6 grade on the directorate pay scale, a grade normally taken up by heads of departments. He is currently taking a one-year course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. Mr Ng is likely to succeed Michael Sze Cho-cheung as Secretary for Constitutional Affairs with Mr Sze moving to take over as the Civil Service Branch chief. Other changes will include the departure of Secretary for Transport, Yeung Kai-yin, who will leave the service to join Sino Land as a top executive. It is suggested Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung, and Secretary for Recreation and Culture James So Yiu-cho are likely candidates to succeed Mr Yeung. Sir David's three-year contract as Hong Kong's man in London is made possible by the retirement of John Yaxley at 57. Mr Yaxley has been Commissioner to London since June 1989. One of Sir David's tasks will be to oversee the restructuring of the London Office, which will become Hong Kong's European headquarters. Although expatriate civil servants must retire at 57, and locals at 60, the Chief Secretary is not bound by this rule. His three-year contract will mean Sir David will stay on until he is almost 62. The appointment of the former secretary for the civil service, Barrie Wiggham, to head the Government's North America Office attracted criticism that the administration was trying to tailor a position as a bonus for a long-serving expat officer. In an apparent bid to fend off likely criticism of Sir David's contract, the Government has already decided to keep the rank of the London post at the D8 grade on the directorate pay scale. This will mean that Sir David, currently ranked at D10 with a monthly pay of $156,300, will move to a lower grade with a monthly salary of $130,650. However, the job comes with a large home in Cowley Street, Westminster, one of London's most-coveted addresses. The house, owned by the Hong Kong Government, was redecorated late last year. The Government, aware of likely criticism over Sir David's contract, is understood to be prepared to argue that at such a critical stage in Hong Kong's history, it would be in the territory's interest to have such a powerful representative in London. ''It's not going to block the promotion of the young up-and-coming brilliant officers here but with only a few years to go and the importance of the UK constitutional link, we really do need someone in London who has the complete confidence of Chris Patten and is extremely well-connected in Whitehall and Westminster and knows how to press the right buttons,'' an insider said. ''Hong Kong is lucky to have someone like him who is prepared to take it on. ''He's quite an extraordinarily well-qualified man for the job,'' the insider said. It is also argued that there has been a precedent: Sir Jack Cater also took up the London Commissioner post in the early 1980s after retiring as Chief Secretary. He also served beyond the age of 60 during his London tenure.