Press Release



LC:Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999


Following is the speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in moving the second reading of the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Madam President,

I move that the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill 1999 be read the second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to simplify and streamline the procedures for revising the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer pension rates and to incorporate a new provision to allow back-dating of payments.

Under the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions Ordinance, pensions, gratuities and other allowances are paid in respect of the death, disablement or sickness of members of the two Volunteer forces who fought in the defence of Hong Kong during World War II.

Before June 1997, the pension rates were linked to the UK Naval, Military and Air Forces etc (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order. This was removed through legislative amendments to incorporate the relevant provisions of the UK Order into the local Ordinance. Individual rates are now specified in the Schedules to the Ordinance. Members will recall that I have revised pension rates twice since July 1997, at the same rate as the civil service pension increase in the respective year.

To simplify the process, we propose to establish a formal link between adjustments to these pension rates and the annual revision of civil service pensions, so that for any adjustment made to pensions payable under the Pensions (Increase) Ordinance, the same percentage increase would normally apply to the rates specified under the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Ordinance.

We further propose to introduce a back-dating provision in the Ordinance to enable the new rates to take effect on the same date as the effective date of the civil service pension increase, which in practice is 1 April each year.

If the annual pension increase follows that awarded to civil service pensioners, we propose that the Order should not be subject to the requirement that subsidiary legislation should be laid before this Council. This is because the gazette notice specifying the rate of increase to civil service pensioners is already subject to this procedure.

Madam President, I commend this Bill to Honourable Members.

END/Wednesday, June 2, 1999