LCQ12: Minor Works Control System

     Following is a question by the Hon Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 2):


     The Minor Works Control System (MWCS), which came into operation on December 31, 2010, facilitates members of the public in carrying out small-scale building works for private buildings in accordance with simplified statutory requirements, with a view to enhancing the safety of buildings in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the authorities have pointed out in its paper submitted to the Panel on Development of this Council that, as at December 31, 2011, the Buildings Department has approved over 12,500 applications from industry practitioners for registration as Registered Minor Works Contractors (RMWCs), whether among them there is any application for provisional registration; if so, of the number of such applications and, according to the authorities' estimation, the time required for training institutions to provide all these industry practitioners under provisional registration with relevant top-up training, so as to enable them to obtain full registration as RMWCs;

(b) given that under MWCS, building owners or agents who are responsible for the appointment of contractors have the legal obligation to ensure that the contractors so appointed are qualified to carry out the minor works, and they may be liable to prosecution if they knowingly appoint some unqualified contractors instead, whether the authorities have compiled statistics on the prosecutions instituted since the implementation of MWCS; if they have, of the statistics; and

(c) given that under MWCS, prescribed registered contractors should only undertake the minor works for which they are registered, while both prescribed building professionals and prescribed registered contractors should comply with the relevant statutory and safety requirements and have the responsibility to provide accurate advice concerning the works to those parties making the appointment of contractors, otherwise, they may be subject to disciplinary action or prosecution, whether the authorities have compiled statistics on the disciplinary actions taken or prosecutions instituted since the implementation of MWCS; if they have, of the respective statistics?



     The Minor Works Control System (MWCS), which came into full operation on December 31, 2010, aims to provide an alternative to the established statutory procedures for building owners to carry out small-scale building works in a lawful, simple, safe and convenient manner. To facilitate the implementation of the MWCS, the Buildings Department (BD) has made substantial efforts in the past three years on the registration of minor works contractors, training for industry practitioners, as well as publicity and public education. Since its implementation, the MWCS has been operating smoothly, and is generally welcomed by both the industry and the public. As at March 31, 2012, the BD had approved over 14,300 applications for registration as Registered Minor Works Contractors (RMWCs). A total of over 40,000 minor works submissions were received in 2011 (i.e. the first year of implementation of the MWCS), exceeding our original estimate of around 36,000 minor works submissions per year.

     My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) Under the MWCS, the works are classified into three classes (i.e. Classes I, II and III) in accordance with their nature, scale, complexity and risks. Industry practitioners can apply for registration as RMWCs either in the capacity of a company or an individual, although contractors registered in the capacity of an individual are only allowed to carry out Class III minor works items. For anyone wishing to be registered as a RMWC, the BD will consider the academic qualifications and actual work experience in the relevant fields of the applicant (Note: As far as applications for registration made in the capacity of a company is concerned, the companies concerned have to nominate to the Building Authority at least one Authorised Signatory for each class and type of minor works when making the application.), irrespective of whether the application for registration is made in the capacity of a company or of an individual. As regards applications for registration as RMWCs made in the capacity of a company, applicants possessing relevant work experience but without the requisite academic qualifications may enrol in the top-up training courses offered by four local training institutes (namely the Construction Industry Council Training Academy, the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, the Industrial Centre of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the School of Professional and Continuing Education of the University of Hong Kong) and apply for full registration as RMWCs upon completion of the course. As a transitional arrangement, industry practitioners who were attending the top-up training courses could rely on their work experience to register as provisional RMWCs before the end of 2011. The above transitional arrangement is not applicable to RMWCs registered in the capacity of individuals.

     Among the 12,500 approved applications for RMWCs registration mentioned in the question, around 5,300 are applications for provisional registration. As at March 31, 2012, nearly 1,000 provisional RMWCs had been successfully registered as RMWCs. The BD will take measures to encourage the provisional RMWCs to complete the relevant registration procedures as soon as possible, including issuing reminder letters to the contractors concerned and liaising with relevant contractors' associations.

     As regards the enrolment situation of the top-up training courses, information provided by the four training institutes reveals that, as at March 31, 2012, around 16,000 industry practitioners, some of which are authorised signatories of provisional RMWCs, had completed the courses since they were first offered in end-2009. The BD does not have the statistics of the number of provisional RMWCs who have not enrolled in the top-up training courses.

(b) Since the implementation of the MWCS, the BD has not come across any case in which an unregistered or unqualified contractor is knowingly appointed for the carrying out of minor works. However, the BD has discovered a case where an owner unknowingly appointed an unregistered contractor to carry out minor works and other unauthorised building works. The BD had instigated prosecution against the contractor in this case, who was just convicted and fined in a Magistrate's Court in April 2012.

(c) Apart from the prosecution case mentioned in part (b) of the reply, the BD has not taken any disciplinary action or instigated any prosecution against prescribed building professionals or prescribed registered contractors under the MWCS. The BD will, in accordance with the established procedures, continue with its random checks on minor works submissions prepared by prescribed building professionals and prescribed registered contractors, as well as completed minor works. If there is any contravention of the Buildings Ordinance, the BD will take enforcement action, including requiring the owner to rectify the irregularities, and instigating prosecution or taking disciplinary action against those who are involved in the works.

Ends/Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:31