Following is the speech by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr David Lan, in moving the second reading of the Adaptation of Laws (No.24) Bill 1999 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):
I move the Second Reading of the Adaptation of Laws (No.24) Bill 1999. The purpose of the Bill is to adapt 4 Ordinances and their subsidiary legislation, in relation to probate and administration, wills and the Hong Kong War Memorial Pensions in order to bring them into conformity with the Basic Law and with Hong Kong's status as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.
Although the Hong Kong Reunification Ordinance and the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance have set out the principles on how to construe various expressions which are inconsistent with the Basic Law and with Hong Kong' status as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, it is still unacceptable to retain these references in the laws of Hong Kong. We therefore must introduce the Bill to amend these expressions.
The Bill proposes mainly terminological changes, such as replacing references to "Governor" by "Chief Executive". Other changes include amendments to the Probate and Administration Ordinance. These amendments are to replace the system of resealing grants of probate and letters of administration issued in British Commonwealth jurisdictions with a system of resealing based on reciprocal treatment of grants between Hong Kong and overseas jurisdiction. Further, Rule 11 of the Contentious Probate Rules is amended to extend, to wills written in Chinese, a requirement which at present applies to wills written in English only.
Like other adaptation of laws bill, most of the proposed adaptation amendments in this Bill, when passed and enacted, and subject to Article 12 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, will take effect retrospectively as from the date of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
However, the amendments mentioned earlier concerning the resealing system and wills written in Chinese will come into operation on the day the Bill is enacted and published in the Gazette. They should not take retrospective effect so as not to affect applications for grants of representation already processed before the legislative amendments.
The proposed amendments in this Bill would obviate the need to make reference to the Hong Kong Reunification Ordinance and the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance. I earnestly request Members' support for the bill.
Thank you, Madam President.
End/Wednesday, July 14, 1999