But NPC official warns against testing limits set by the central government A senior state official yesterday said broad agreement had emerged over constitutional reform in Hong Kong, but warned that discussions should not depart from the limits set by Beijing. 'In the fourth report [of the constitutional reform taskforce] we have seen the emergence of relatively a lot of consensus. It is very exciting,' said Qiao Xiaoyang , deputy secretary-general of the National People's Congress Standing Committee. Speaking yesterday on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the Macau handover, he said much consensus had emerged over the pace of democracy in Hong Kong. Mr Qiao did not say whether his meeting on Sunday with newly-elected Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat would lead to further communication between the central government and the pro-democracy camp. Last week, the Hong Kong government taskforce, headed by Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, listed a number of views collected during a public consultation. Some of them are expected to form a so-called mainstream reform proposal next year. They include doubling or tripling the membership of the 800-strong Election Committee, broadening the electoral base of the functional constituencies and perhaps increasing the number of seats in the legislature. But the report and its findings were dismissed by the pro-democracy camp as the results of a 'bird-cage' consultation because Beijing has already ruled out the introduction of universal suffrage by 2007. Mr Qiao warned that no discussion should depart from Beijing's decision on the pace of reform. 'Constitutional development must comply with the Basic Law and the NPC's decision on April 26. I hope all sectors in Hong Kong will conduct discussions based on these,' he said. Mr Qiao also declined to disclose his impressions of Mr Lee and whether the change in the Democratic Party leadership would lead to improved communications. 'I have only met him once. It is difficult to have [an] impression,' he said. Pro-democracy legislators criticised the political reform taskforce at a meeting of Legco's constitutional affairs panel yesterday for failing to detail a timetable for democratic development in its fourth report. Lee Cheuk-yan of the Confederation of Trade Unions asked: 'Are we waiting for the central government's decision on the timetable?' Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, of the Article 45 Concern Group, said the terms of the existing Election Committee, which selects the chief executive, would expire next year, while the committee's composition would be changed under political reform. She questioned whether the new committee formed next year would be redundant. Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, asked why her suggestion of having voters elect members of the Election Committee in 2007 was not included in the report. Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie denied the government was waiting for directions from the central authorities.