The home affairs chief yesterday ruled out giving legislators a say on the Jockey Club's application to retain for its own use land that the Hong Kong Sports Institute is giving up for the hosting of the 2008 Olympics equestrian events. Patrick Ho Chi-ping again insisted there was no secret deal with the club for the use of the land, currently occupied by two soccer pitches and a golf course. Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan had urged that an exception to procedure be made in order to give the Legislative Council a say. But Dr Ho said government land allocation was decided by the Lands Department and Town Planning Board. The land in Sha Tin will be taken over temporarily by the Jockey Club in 2007 and 2008 to provide a site for stables and training areas for the Olympic events. The club has promised to pay up to $800 million for the event. Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli two weeks ago said the club would like to keep the facilities they build there and had applied to the Lands Department in May to take it over permanently. The announcement prompted questions as to whether the government was trading the land to the club in return for its promise to pay the costs of hosting the equestrian events. Critics suggested the club wanted the land to allow expansion of the Sha Tin racecourse for year-round racing. 'I want to say this again. There is no agreement or hidden trading over the land,' Dr Ho told Legco's home affairs panel. 'The Jockey Club will build the facilities for the event [whether or not it gets the land permanently]. And as far as I know, they are not doing this for year-round racing.' Democrat Albert Chan Wai-yip said he believed the government had bypassed Legco when deciding to co-host the event, given how quickly the temporary land allocation had been approved. 'It's even faster than getting the land to build a public library,' he said. 'Maybe we should ask the Jockey Club to build libraries for us.' Sports Institute chairman Eric Li Ka-cheung said the government reserved all rights to the institute's land, including the power to allocate a part of it to the Jockey Club. He said he hoped discussions on relocating facilities for elite athletes would be over soon.