CHINA will be urged to give legal backing to a 'caretaker legislature' to run Hong Kong for at least three months after the handover in 1997. The Preliminary Working Committee's political sub-group came up with the suggestion yesterday. Mainland co-convenor Xiao Weiyun said the through-train mechanism embodied in the 1990 National People's Congress (NPC) decision on the formation of the first Special Administrative Region government and legislature had been destroyed by Britain's unilateral move in introducing its political reform programme. The NPC could now be asked to approve setting up the provisional legislature, the members of which could be named before the changeover. Some local NPC deputies opposed the idea. It is understood that one of the options is for the 'caretaker' legislators to be selected by the 400-strong Selection Committee. Hong Kong convenor Leung Chun-ying said it was not possible to hold direct elections for a temporary body. He said the sub-group had yet to decide how long the 'caretakers' would be required, but some members suggested they should sit for at least three months. Mr Xiao said it would also be difficult to hold a full-scale election immediately after the changeover. 'Elections are not a simple thing. Take as an example the recent district board elections, for which the Government spent a lot of time preparing,' he said. Mr Xiao said there was a need for a provisional legislature as there would be legal needs arising from the transfer. Under the Basic Law, the SAR legislature's consent will be needed in the appointment of judges to the Court of Final Appeal as well as the chief judge of the Supreme Court. The budget will also need to be endorsed. Legislation on issues such as treason and dividing the country as stipulated by Article 23 must be enacted.