Legislative Council Question 14 : "Processing of applications for small house" by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council

    Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):




    With respect to the processing of New Territories small house applications by the Lands Department, will the Government inform this Council:


(a) of the average time taken to process such applications;


(b) of the number of processed applications in each of the past three years, broken down by the number of years taken to process them, as well as the reasons for the longer processing time in some cases;


(c) of the existing staff establishment for processing such applications in various District Lands Offices ("DLOs"); and


(d) whether staff of the DLOs concerned have complained or reflected to the authorities that their offices are understaffed for processing such applications, and whether the authorities have reviewed the staffing resources in this respect?




Madam President,


    My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:


(a) Due to the large number of small house applications received in the past, applicants have to wait for some time before their applications can be processed. The waiting time ranges from one to three years, depending on the number of outstanding applications in the district. The actual processing time also varies, depending on the complexity of individual cases. Normally, it takes about one year to process a case. Complicated cases need longer processing time.


(b) In the past three years, the number of cases handled by the Lands Department (Lands D) is as follows:


Year Number of cases handled

2002 2 130

2003 2 132

2004 2 178


    Lands D does not have the relevant statistics on the breakdown of cases in terms of the number of years taken to process them.


    Some cases need longer processing time mainly due to the existence of more complicated circumstances. Examples include problems associated with the emergency vehicular access, technical matters such as drainage and geotechnical problems, insufficient documents of the applicants to prove their indigenous villager status, or objections to the applications. Under these circumstances, the applicants will need more time to consider ways to overcome the problems or seek professional advice to resolve them. Also, DLOs will have to co-ordinate with government departments concerned with a view to resolving the problems.


(c) The deployment of manpower is mainly based on the number of small house applications handled by DLOs. The staff deployed to process small house applications are as follows:


District Lands Offices      Number of Staff Responsible

                    for Processing Small House Applications

---------------------- ---------------------------------------

Islands                              9

North                             14

Sai Kung                             10

Shatin                             10

Tai Po                             24.5

Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing                   4

Tuen Mun                              5.5

Yuen Long                             28


(d) Lands D has received requests from the staff for increasing manpower in the past. It also reviews the manpower deployment on processing small house applications from time to time. However, as resources are limited, Lands D has to balance the distribution of resources among different areas of work. As such, it has no plan to increase the manpower to process small house applications for the time being. Nevertheless, Lands D is now reviewing, in consultation with Heung Yee Kuk, the procedures for processing small house applications with a view to streamlining them so that the waiting and processing time can be shortened.



Ends/Wednesday, May 4, 2005