A Democratic Party member whose home-return permit was confiscated nine years ago has been given a 10-year permit as some pro-democracy district councillors previously barred from entering the mainland look set to pay a visit in the next few months. John Tse Wing-ling, vice-chairman of Wan Chai District Council, was given a one-off home-return permit in May to join a delegation of district council chairmen and vice-chairmen to Beijing. But last week Dr Tse, a member of the Democratic Party and chairman of City University's staff association, was given a 10-year permit, allowing him to join a trip by the Federation of Hong Kong Higher Education Staff Associations to the capital which began last Wednesday and ended on Sunday. The lifting of the ban is seen as a further move by Beijing to improve ties with the pro-democracy camp following last month's ice-breaking trip by 59 lawmakers to the Pearl River Delta. Dr Tse's home-return permit was confiscated in 1996 when he travelled to Beijing with a delegation carrying a petition against the establishment of the provisional legislative council. 'The fact that I was given a permanent permit is linked to the central government's initiative to facilitate a harmonious atmosphere in Hong Kong,' he said. 'I'm confident other democrats will get back their home-return permits in the near future.' Dr Tse said last week's delegation to Beijing had met mainland officials including Chen Zuoer , deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. 'Mr Chen emphasised the importance of promoting harmony in Hong Kong.' Meanwhile, at least five district councils plan to organise trips to the mainland in the next few months, with more than 30 Kwun Tong district councillors scheduled to start a three-day trip to Guangdong on Sunday. Wong Kam-chi, chairman of Wong Tai Sin District Council, said he had discussed with officials from the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong last month the feasibility of organising a trip to Guangdong early next year. If the request is granted, fellow councillors Andrew To Kwan-hang and Chui Pak-tai, members of the standing committee of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, will join the tour. 'My proposal drew positive responses from the liaison office officials even though they know that two of our councillors did not have valid home-return documents,' Mr Wong said. The alliance's standing committee members have been banned from visiting the mainland. Mr To, who last visited the mainland in 1996, said he would raise the issue of the Communist Party's verdict on the June 4, 1989, crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protesters and the introduction of universal suffrage in 2007 with mainland officials if he was allowed to join the delegation. Chan Ka-wai, vice-chairman of Kowloon City District Council, said the council intended to organise a tour to Dongguan next month. Mr Chan, who is a member of the Democratic Party's executive committee, was given a one-off home-return permit in May to join the delegation of district council chiefs to Beijing.