The government will not consider Legco by-elections triggered by the resignations of pan-democrat lawmakers a referendum on universal suffrage, as the camp claims they will be, the constitutional affairs chief said yesterday. Stephen Lam Sui-lung also reiterated that the administration would leave decisions about the legislature's trade- and profession-based seats to future administrations. Asked by lawmakers yesterday whether the functional constituency seats would be abolished, Lam said this was a matter for the administration taking office in 2017, since the chief executive elected that year would have been chosen by universal suffrage. The Civic Party and League of Social Democrats are behind the resignations plan, under which one pan-democrat elected in each of the five geographical constituencies will quit, triggering by-elections, which they will contest on a common platform of scrapping functional constituencies. Lam defended the government against accusations that it had not taken a lead on the future of functional constituencies. He said a subcommittee of the main government think tank had discussed the matter and a green paper on constitutional reform had been issued in 2007. He also said the government would consider views on the trade-based seats aired during the current public consultation on electoral changes for 2012. Those changes include adding 10 seats to the Legislative Council - five directly elected and five in an expanded district councils functional constituency. Civic Party lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said that unless the government considered functional constituencies compatible with universal and equal suffrage, it must consider how to abolish them. Meanwhile, Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen reiterated that the National People's Congress Standing Committee's 2007 decision on Hong Kong's electoral methods was 'solemn and serious'. He was speaking two days after Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie warned that the committee had only said universal suffrage 'may be implemented' in 2017 and that whether or not it was still hinged on the chief executive and Legco.