The Legislative Council committee scrutinising the controversial minimum wage legislation yesterday met for the first time and had a fierce fight - over the date of the next meeting. In the 20-minute discussion, the scrutinising committee on the Minimum Wage Bill took 20 minutes to agree on the date, as lawmakers of different camps attacked one another's attitudes towards the bill. With labour unions long advocating a minimum wage law in Hong Kong and the business sector reserved, the committee has drawn 36 lawmakers to participate. Thirteen members have a business background, while eight are unionists. After the election of Tam Yiu-chung, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, as chairman, and independent Paul Chan Mo-po as deputy, all the committee had left to do was to set a date for the second meeting. Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, representing the industrial sector, started the debate by suggesting that the deliberation of the bill should start in October, as legislators returned to the council after the summer recess. Ronny Tong Ka-wah disagreed. 'Hong Kong citizens have high expectations of us,' the Civic Party legislator said. 'I do not agree that we can relax and slow down on the job. We should give citizens the impression that we will handle the legislation as soon as possible.' He proposed that discussion should start in September, rather than October. But the atmosphere turned even more tense when the catering sector's Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, vice-chairman of the pro-business Liberal Party, countered: 'I do not believe setting the meeting a few days later means that we 'relax and slow down'.' The Federation of Trade Unions' Ip Wai-ming and Pan Pey-chyou said deliberation should begin as soon as possible. The committee finally set the next meeting for September 24. It is rare for a bills committee to attract so many legislators. In 2006, 34 out of the 60 legislators joined the committee scrutinising a controversial draft law empowering law enforcement agencies' surveillance and interception of communications. In 2003, 50 took part in the bills committee to make a national security law based on Article 23 of the Basic Law. The surveillance bill made it into law, but remains controversial. The Article 23 legislation was abandoned after large numbers of Hongkongers took to the streets.