Proposed resolution under Rule 77(1) and (2) of the Rules of Procedure
MR CHAN CHUN-YING:
President, I speak in support of this proposed resolution under the Rules of Procedure to rename, among the 18 Panels of the Legislative Council, the Panel on Home Affairs as the Panel on Home Affairs, Culture and Sports, and the Panel on Commerce and Industry as the Panel on Commerce, Industry, Innovation and Technology, following the reorganization of government structure.
When the House Committee discussed the issue, Mrs Regina IP proposed that we should consider keeping abreast of the times to update the name of the Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting as well. The reason is that Panels were named after the relevant Policy Bureaux, but nowadays technology does not only encompasses information technology, but also other technologies, such as biotechnology and aerospace technology.
I really admire Mrs Regina IP for her sensitivity and keen observation. While we have not included this proposal in the amendments today, I have some innovative ideas on the operation of Panels inspired by her view.
President, each of the 18 Panels of the Legislative Council has a cap of 20 members on its size at present, which means that 360 Panel seats in total are available. After the by-election to fill four vacancies in the membership of the Election Committee constituency in December this year, each of the 90 Members, except the President, can only participate in the work of about four Panels. Individual Members may join more than four Panels due to the several vacancies, but such Members only account for a small number.
Among the 18 Panels, as many as half of them (i.e. 9 Panels) deal with more than 1 corresponding bureau, whereas 3 Panels even have 3 corresponding Policy Bureaux each. Of course, any issue discussed by the Panels, subject to its nature, can be open to all Members for discussion. Besides, when a specific issue falls within the purviews of two Panels, joint meetings are occasionally arranged by the Panels involved. However, this is not a standing arrangement. The Chairmen of the two Panels also have to discuss who would preside over the meetings.
It appears that the existing delineation among Panels does not limit Members’ participation, and yet the actual operation has still put some constraints on Members. Honourable colleagues may be interested in other areas that are overseen by the same bureau but are outside the purviews of the four Panels, but they cannot do anything about this due to the size limit that I mentioned.
In fact, as Members’ work involves a myriad of issues, they seldom proactively attend Panel meetings as non-members for policy discussion. It would be beneficial if Members could join the discussion on other issues under the purview of the same Policy Bureau. For instance, they can better understand the overall policy considerations of the Directors of Bureaux during their communication.
To this end, if each Panel is assigned to mainly deal with one Policy Bureau, when a Panel discusses an issue under the purview of another bureau, a joint meeting to be presided over by the Chairman of this Panel will be arranged. Members of the other relevant Panel should receive invitation and notification in respect of the meeting. To facilitate Members’ attendance at the two related meetings, Panels may schedule their meetings “back-to-back”, instead of the current practice of scheduling the meetings separately.
For example, if the Panel on Constitutional Affairs has completed the first part of a meeting on constitutional issues and the second part involves the issue of labour welfare, the meeting will become a joint meeting with the Panel on Welfare Services and members of the latter will be invited to attend the meeting. When the joint meeting ends, the Panel on Welfare Services may convene a meeting immediately, and so on and so forth.
Such an arrangement allows each and every Member to join the discussion on a wider range of topics in accordance with the general scope and content of work of a Policy Bureau, rather than being confined to the purview of a Panel. Moreover, Members who wish to deal with broader policy issues may plan their membership strategy in order to better express their views on different policy areas.
President, the above ideas are only meant to do some brainstorming with Members and will not change my position in supporting this resolution. Thank you, President.