Government hopes of legislating the abolition of estate duty by July have been dashed after lawmakers unhappy about the rush opposed a second reading of the bill. Acting Chief Executive Henry Tang Ying-yen said the second reading debate and third reading would be delayed until October, after the Legislative Council's summer recess. 'I understand the concerns of legislators,' he said. He stressed that the delay would have no material effect on the public as, regardless of when it is endorsed, the effective date of the bill will be made retrospective to July. The 15 per cent duty is levied on an individual's assets in Hong Kong at the time of death, if they are worth more than $10.5 million. Mr Tang reiterated his belief that scrapping the duty would boost Hong Kong's status as an international financial hub. At yesterday's Legco House Committee meeting, lawmakers complained of insufficient time to properly examine and discuss the bill's contents. Legislators Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee and Ronny Tong Ka-wah, both of the Article 45 Concern Group, criticised the fact that nine meetings had been held on the matter in two weeks. 'We need time to go through all the papers. This is not the right way to go about it,' Ms Ng said. The government had initially sought to gain the final endorsement of lawmakers by July 6, in the last Legco meeting before members break for the summer. A government spokesman said that legislators had reservations about details of the bill allowing lawyers, accountants or bankers to perform some of the functions previously performed by the government. Many felt these functions should stay with the government. 'The lawmakers are not opposed to the principle of the bill,' the spokesman said. 'They want the government to retain these functions and we have been working very hard to furnish them with all the information.'