LEGISLATORS have called on the Government to issue a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction (CNCC) to former offenders whose convictions are ''spent''. However, the Government says doing so would make it much more difficult for most people to emigrate. It is finalising an amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance to include a wider range of offences. But Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Karen Pong Leung Kwok-hing revealed that the bill, expected to be ready by early next year, would still prevent people with spent offences getting a CNCC. ''In the interest of the majority of people in Hong Kong, the administration has decided that the practice should continue,'' she added. Under the scheme, when a person on his first conviction is not sentenced to a prison term or fine exceeding $5,000, the offence can be disregarded for most purposes after three years. But the person is not eligible for a CNCC from the police, which instead issues a refusal letter containing details of the spent conviction. Police Chief Staff Officer Michael Prew said it would make it more difficult and time-consuming for most people to emigrate if CNCCs were issued to people with spent convictions. ''In order to assist residents of Hong Kong to immigrate overseas, we instituted this system of Certificate of No Criminal Conviction,'' he said. ''And now it is recognised by some 59 consulates and authorities in Hong Kong for the purposes of immigration.'' Mr Prew said it would take most consulates six months to one year to process applications to emigrate if CNCCs were issued to people with spent offences. At present, consulates take an average of two to three months for the process. But legislators said the spirit of the rehabilitation scheme would be defeated if spent convictions were revealed in applications for the CNCC. ''Though many Hong Kong people apply for CNCCs for emigration, the spirit of the ordinance is for a person to be rehabilitated,'' veteran legislator Hui Yin-fat said. United Democrat legislator James To Kun-sun agreed with Mr Hui. He said people should be given a chance to have a clear record. ''We shouldn't focus on the aspect of immigration only. We have also to consider the issue from the angle of rehabilitation,'' Mr To said.