Important issues are almost always dealt with in plenary sittings, for instance general (political or financial) considerations, debates about important topical issues and the deliberations on bills and budgets. Final decision-making also takes place in plenary sittings, e.g. voting on bills, amendments and motions.
Arrangement of business
The House of Representatives follows an agenda that is drawn up several times a week during the so-called “arrangement of business”. Apart from the plenary sittings, a large number of committee meetings are also held. The meetings of the House of Representatives are almost always public. All public meetings are recorded.
The first image that usually comes to mind when thinking of the House of Representatives is that of the Plenary Hall. This is where MPs carry on sometimes fierce debates with ministers, state secretaries and each other. The committees of the House gather in one of the nine smaller meeting rooms along with ministers and state secretaries. Two thirds of the debates in the House with the ministers and state secretaries take place in committee meetings.
The parliamentary committee of inquiry is a particular type of temporary committee of the House. The parliamentary inquiry is the most powerful instrument the Dutch Parliament has at its disposal to carry out its duty to scrutinize the work of the Government. Over the past thirty years, various parliamentary committees of inquiry gained fame. They always managed to bring new facts to light.
The assembly of all the 150 members of the House of Representatives together is called the plenary sitting. Plenary meetings are held in the Plenary Hall.
Debates are held according to an established pattern. First, the floor is given to the spokespersons from the political groups in the House of Representatives. The minister or state secretary replies. This is called the first stage. In most cases, not all the questions have been answered yet and the first stage is therefore followed by a second stage in which the MPs are given the floor again, and the member of the Cabinet replies. If questions remain which have not been answered satisfactorily, a third stage may follow.
After the debate has been closed, the House of Representatives will take a decision by voting. There are three methods of voting, namely by show of hands (by political group), by roll-call or by secret ballot.