Parliamentary inquiry

One of the key tasks of the House of Representatives is to oversee the government. If the House wants to get to the bottom of a particular issue, it may choose to launch an investigation. A parliamentary inquiry is the most powerful instrument at its disposal.

Witnesses called by a committee of inquiry are obliged to appear before the committee. This holds true for ministers and state secretaries as well. Witnesses are questioned under oath. This means that they can be prosecuted for perjury if it turns out that they have not been telling the truth. Hearings are held in public, a process that often takes several weeks. 

Parliamentary inquiry: natural gas extraction in Groningen

The recent investigation into gas extraction in Groningen is an example of a ‘classic’ parliamentary inquiry. The House wanted to hold public hearings to question individuals, organisations, and public institutions about the decisions made over the past decades. The parliamentary committee of inquiry into Natural Gas Extraction in Groningen, established on 9 February 2021, held these public hearings in the summer of 2022. The committee’s final report, Groningers before Gas, was presented on 24 February 2023. The House of Representatives discussed the committee’s findings in June 2023.

Parliamentary inquiry: fraud policy and public service provision

Another example is the parliamentary committee of inquiry into Fraud Policy and Public Service Provision. This committee started its work on 3 February 2022. It was founded following two previous investigations, into anti-fraud approaches and implementing organisations. The committee held public hearings between 6 September and 5 October 2023 and presented its report, Blind voor mens en recht, on 26 February 2024. The plenary debate with the committee of inquiry was held on 23 and 25 April 2024. 

Parliamentary inquiry: COVID-19 pandemic

The parliamentary committee of inquiry into the COVID-19 Pandemic presented its investigation proposal to the House of Representatives on 24 April 2024. The committee was established on 6 February 2024 and preceded by the temporary committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Other types

There are two other types of parliamentary inquiry: an abbreviated version and a version where there is no obligation to appear before the committee and witnesses are not under oath.