Advisory and Statutory Bodies
In maintaining a system of Advisory and Statutory Bodies, the Government's policy objective is to facilitate it to obtain the best possible advice on which to base decisions or to perform statutory functions by consulting interested groups and individuals in the community. Through these bodies, a wide cross-section of the community and relevant organisations can participate in the initial stage of policy-making and public service planning.
Functions and Composition of Advisory and Statutory Bodies
Advisory and statutory bodies give advice to the Government or perform public functions which otherwise would be performed by government departments. Their areas of activities are wide-ranging. Some of the advisory bodies, such as the Advisory Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries, deal with the interests of a particular industry. Others advise on a particular area of government policy interest, including the Transport Advisory Committee. On the other hand, statutory bodies perform their functions according to the relevant legislation. Some of them, such as the Hospital Authority, perform executive functions.
Currently, there are around 490 advisory and statutory bodies. Government officials and members of the public are represented on these bodies. About 4 400 members of the public have been appointed to serve on about 430 bodies holding around 6 800 posts (some serve on more than one body). Of them, around 6 100 post-holders have supplied age information.
Principles of Appointments to Advisory and Statutory Bodies
The Government makes appointments to advisory and statutory bodies on the basis of the merit of individuals concerned, taking into account a candidate's ability, expertise, experience, integrity and commitment to public service and with due regard to the statutory provisions of statutory bodies, functions and nature of business of the bodies concerned. While upholding the principle of appointment by merit, the Government has established the following guidelines and principles for appointments to these bodies to ensure that members of the public have equal opportunities to participate in public affairs through services on these bodies -
"Six-year Rule" means not appointing a non-official member to serve on the same body in the same capacity for more than six years to ensure a healthy turnover of members of advisory and statutory bodies (Relevant figures).
"Six-board Rule" means not appointing a person to serve as a non-official member on more than six advisory and statutory bodies at any one time to ensure a reasonable distribution of workload (Relevant figures).
In January 2004, the Government set the "25% gender benchmark" as an initial working target, meaning at least 25% of appointed non-official members of advisory and statutory bodies should be of male or female. The working target was achieved in December 2005 in overall terms for all advisory and statutory bodies. The Government raised the target from 25% to 30% with effect from June 2010 and has achieved the revised 30% target in May 2011 in overall terms for all advisory and statutory bodies. To further enhance the participation of women in advisory and statutory bodies, the Government further raised the target from 30% to 35% with effect from April 2015. Like the previous gender benchmark targets, the new 35% target is to be applied in overall terms for all advisory and statutory bodies with Government appointed non-official members with flexibility having regard to the circumstances of respective advisory and statutory bodies, and the principle of appointment by merit prevails. As at June 2018, 33.0% of appointed non-official post-holders of advisory and statutory bodies are female (Relevant figures).
Participation of Young People
In her 2017 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that the Government will appoint more young people to various Government boards and committees with the aim of increasing the overall ratio of young members (i.e. persons who are aged between 18 and 35) to 15% within the current-term Government. As at June 2018, 8.9% of the appointed non-official post-holders with age information were aged 35 or below on their first appointment to the relevant advisory and statutory bodies (Relevant figures).
The Government regularly keeps in view the composition and operation of the advisory and statutory bodies to ensure that they meet the needs of the community. A reasonable turnover of membership is generally maintained to ensure the inflow of new ideas. At the same time, these bodies adopt a number of transparency measures, including issuing press releases, holding press briefings, opening up meetings, and providing meeting materials and documents for access of the public and uploading the relevant information onto the Internet, so as to promote the public's understanding of their work. The membership lists of all these bodies are also uploaded onto the Internet as the Civil and Miscellaneous List to facilitate public inspection of the relevant information.
To secure public views and participation, the Government has been encouraging the public to participate in the work of the advisory and statutory bodies. Interested individuals can indicate their willingness in participation by downloading and filling in a curriculum
vitae form and subsequently mailing their personal information to the Government for inclusion in a centralised database which contains the membership records of non-official members serving on these bodies as well as the personal data of those interested individuals. The database serves as a useful reference for relevant Bureaux/Departments when appointing members to the advisory and statutory bodies under their purview.