LCQ17: Hawker licensing

    Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (May 28):


    At the meeting of this Council on November 14, last year, the Secretary for Home Affairs said that the Food and Health Bureau was reviewing the hawker licensing policy, and the outcome of the review was expected to be available in the middle of this year.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the progress of the above review and the preliminary outcome, as well as the specific date for making public the outcome of the review;

(b) of the respective current numbers of licensed fixed-pitch hawkers and licensed itinerant hawkers, broken down by District Council (DC) district;

(c) if it has assessed whether or not facilitating hawking activities helps the work of the Government in alleviating poverty; and

(d) whether it will consider re-issuing hawker licences, and entrusting the work on hawker control in various districts to the DCs concerned, so that the work in this respect may better address the needs of different districts?


Madam President,

    I hereby give a consolidated response to the fours parts of the question.

    At the break-out session on environmental hygiene and public health of the Summit on District Administration held on 10 May 2008, I have made a suggestion to the more than one hundred District Councillors and district personalities attending the session about strengthening the role of District Councils in local hawker licensing and hawker bazaar management issues.  District Councils should advise the Government on issues relating to hawker licensing and management, having regard to the specific circumstances and aspirations of the local communities.  Attendees of the break-out session generally welcomed the suggestion.  Subsequently, when the District Council Chairman serving as the moderator of the break-out session summarised the session's discussion for the more than 800 Summit attendees, the suggestion was also explained.

    The Food and Health Bureau and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department will brief the LegCo Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene on the progress of the hawker licensing review next month (i.e. June 2008), and consult Panel Members on the preliminary proposals.  The review will address various issues of hawker licensing, including the issue of hawker licences, the transfer and succession arrangements for hawker licences, and the efficient use of vacant fixed hawker pitches.

    While hawking activities can no doubt bring about some employment and small business opportunities, the policy on hawker licensing did not in itself originate from welfare concerns or that of alleviating poverty.  In this policy review, we mainly approached the issues from the perspective of environmental hygiene.  The policy review primarily aimed to enhance the effectiveness and flexibility of hawking regulation and hawker licensing, without adversely affecting environmental hygiene and catering for the specific circumstances and aspirations of local communities at the same time.

    After the LegCo Panel has been consulted, we will seek the views of hawker associations and District Councils. 

    The distribution of fixed-pitch and itinerant hawkers in Hong Kong is shown at Annex.

Ends/Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Issued at HKT 12:13