Following is a question by the Hon Fred Li and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (March 21):
In reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council on February 29, this year, the Government indicated that between late May and early June last year when unauthorised building works (UBWs) became a topical issue among the media, the Chief Executive reminded various Secretaries of Departments and Directors of Bureaux to review whether there was any UBW in the properties they owned, and requested that if necessary, they should engage authorised persons to inspect their units and seek professional advice. Further, the Government also stated that being the department responsible for enforcement against UBWs, the Buildings Department ("BD") had all along been determined to act in accordance with the law and to be impartial to all, and would take enforcement actions in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123) and the prevailing enforcement policy on UBWs. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether BD's records on properties in which UBWs are found include the properties owned by the government officials listed in the attached table; if so, of the details of the UBWs concerned and the enforcement actions taken by the authorities (set out the details in the attached table by the government officials concerned who were in post during the period in May and June 2011);
(b) whether BD's records on properties in which UBWs are found include the properties owned by the current Financial Secretary, the Secretary for Justice, the Secretary for the Civil Service, the Secretary for Home Affairs, the Secretary for Security, the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, the Secretary for Food and Health, the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, the Secretary for Development, the Secretary for the Environment and the Secretary for Transport and Housing; if so, of the details;
(c) given that in accordance with the internal guidelines on the prioritisation of "actionable" UBWs (the new enforcement policy) which came into effect on April 1, last year, BD will issue statutory orders against confirmed "actionable" UBWs to require the owners concerned to conduct rectification works immediately, and it has also ceased issuing warning notices to "the New Commitments" which have been included as UBWs with effect from April 1, last year, as they will instead be served with removal orders under the new enforcement policy, which of the UBWs in (a) and (b) are "actionable" UBWs, and which of them belong to "the New Commitments";
(d) whether BD has taken enforcement actions against the "actionable" UBWs (including "the New Commitments") in (c) in accordance with the new enforcement policy; if it has, when the authorities issued the relevant statutory orders, and of the contents of such statutory orders; if not, the reasons for that; and
(e) whether "actionable" UBWs currently cover basements constructed without authorisation; if not, whether it will consider further extending the scope of "actionable" UBWs to cover basements constructed without authorisation, and include them under the list of "the New Commitments", so as to ensure the safety of the buildings concerned?
As stated in my reply to a written question to the Legislative Council on February 29, 2012, the Buildings Department (BD), being the department responsible for enforcement against unauthorised building works (UBWs), has all along been determined to act in accordance with the law and to be impartial to all. The BD will, as a matter of established practice, accord priority to follow up on cases of great public concern reported by members of the public or by the media involving senior government officials or celebrities with the objective of clearing any public concerns as soon as possible. After conducting the necessary inspection and investigation, the BD will take enforcement actions against all such cases in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance and the prevailing enforcement policy on UBWs in an impartial manner. There is no special arrangement in respect of enforcement for properties owned by senior government officials or celebrities.
Since April 1, 2011, the BD has implemented a new enforcement policy against UBWs by extending the scope of actionable UBWs to cover UBWs on the exterior of buildings (except minor amenity features), including those on rooftops and podiums, as well as those in yards and lanes, irrespective of their level of risk to public safety or whether they are newly constructed. If there are confirmed actionable UBWs after inspection, the BD will, according to priority, issue statutory orders to the owners concerned, requiring them to conduct rectification works within a specified period. Where the owners have already engaged authorised persons to follow up on the rectification works, the BD will issue advisory letters to the owners, urging them to conduct the works to rectify the irregularities as soon as possible.
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(a) to (d) The BD keeps its records on UBWs according to property addresses rather than property owners. As such, the BD is unable to provide the information requested in the question. Besides, the BD will not comment on whether an individual person has properties under his/her name in which UBWs have been found.
(e) As an unauthorised cellar or basement is an addition to the original bulk of the parent building, it falls within the scope of actionable UBWs under the existing enforcement policy.
Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:51