Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has won legal backing in her attempt to scrap the controversial levy on employers of foreign domestic helpers. The Legislative Council subcommittee discussing a government amendment to suspend the HK$400-a-month levy for two years will hold final discussions tomorrow, and Mrs Ip has to submit her proposed amendment by November 17. A legislative procedure to approve retrospectively the two-year suspension is now undergoing 'negative vetting' - meaning it will become law unless an objection is received. But Mrs Ip, an independent who chairs the subcommittee, has proposed another amendment that would abolish the levy permanently. Last week labour chief Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said doing so would have an impact on government spending, therefore the administration would urge Legco president Tsang Yok-sing to rule out of order any resolution to scrap the levy. But a briefing paper released yesterday by an assistant Legco legal adviser, Kelvin Lee Ka-yun, said Mrs Ip's amendment would have no charging effect. He pointed to a similar ruling on a motion in July 1998 by legislator Lee Cheuk-yan to increase the compensation for bereavement under an occupation disease law to HK$150,000, instead of the administration's proposed HK$100,000. The government opposed the admission of Mr Lee's amendment for consideration by Legco, arguing that the compensation was funded by a levy. It also argued that the amendment might result in a depletion of the pneumoconiosis (lung-disease) compensation fund, leaving the government with no choice but to inject public money. In her ruling dated July 20, 1998, the then-Legco president rejected the administration's arguments and ruled that the pneumoconiosis compensation fund was a statutory fund and not revenue of the government. So any consequence on the fund would not affect general revenue. Like the Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund, the Employees Retraining Fund is vested in a statutory body. So the retraining fund should not be regarded 'as revenue or other public money', legal adviser Mr Lee said. 'In the light of the aforesaid ruling, any amendment in respect of the levy which has a consequence on the Retraining Fund should likewise have no charging effect on general revenue,' he said.