Lawmakers are assured that they will have a say on the contentious amendment A bill to amend the Housing Ordinance to eliminate the controversial clause that caps public housing rent will be ready for Legislative Council scrutiny early next year, a housing official said yesterday. But the official told a media briefing that the Housing Department had not decided whether a new system on how to adjust public housing rents every two years would be included in the amendment bill. 'We will do our job to come up with a reasonable and sustainable system on public housing rents as soon as possible. It is a very political issue; we have no control on whether legislators will agree with it. 'But we will not bypass Legco. There will be an amendment bill to involve the lawmakers,' the source said. Housing Authority members held a brainstorming meeting yesterday morning to discuss a draft proposal that an ad hoc committee be set up to review the existing mechanism on adjusting rents. The committee suggested the authority devise an 'income index' that traces the income changes of public housing tenants when calculating rents. 'It will calculate their pure income over time,' the source said. The new index will exclude the 130,000 welfare tenants whose rents were paid by the Social Welfare Department. It was argued the present system failed to reflect the genuine income changes as it was affected by the number of people in every family; and, in extreme circumstances, it would result in rent reductions even if the economy was booming. The committee also suggested an 11.6 per cent cut in rent once the new system was in place. The new rent will be the basis for future rent adjustments. The source rejected a rent reduction before the new system was in place. 'We need a system that the community agrees with first,' the source said. 'Otherwise, what is our basis on cutting rents?' The Housing Ordinance caps the median rent-to-income ratio at 10 per cent. This means half the households in public housing have a rent-to-income ratio of less than 10 per cent, while the other half have one of more than 10 per cent. In 2002, the authority was sued for not reducing public housing rents during deflation. The three-year case ended last year when the Court of Final Appeal ruled the cap applied only when a decision was made to raise rents, and the cap was not a statutory definition of affordability. The committee will submit a proposal to the authority at the end of this year. It decided to give up an idea of linking rents to location and views. It also decided to keep the existing practice of including the management fees and rates in the rent. But the authority will inform the tenants about the total cost of the management fees and rates in the year-end bill.