The TCDT has also given recommendations for the whole House of Representatives:
- establish a standing House of Representatives committee for Digital Affairs;
- decide what knowledge about digitisation you need;
- support the other parliamentary committees on issues relating to digitisation;
- ensure that there are appropriate laws and regulations for digitisation in the Netherlands and that there is effective coordination with organisations that supervise digitisation; and
- take notice of what is happening in the European Union and work with the government to determine the Netherlands’ input on digitisation in that context.
The digital transition affects every part of our lives,
Digital systems are getting better, faster and more precise all the time. Technologies are becoming increasingly interdependent and intertwined with each other, thereby forming a single entity. Information about everything that people and organisations do is being increasingly stored and used. As a result everyone is affected by digitisation and technology.
…politics must provide direction in this,
All of these changes raise the question of what we want and, conversely, what we do not want. Politics needs to address these kinds of questions, not only in one specific area of policy, such as education, healthcare or agriculture, but across all of these areas and in general too. What sort of society does politics envisage? It is the duty of the House of Representatives to represent Dutch citizens in this: to gain understanding and control of our digital future and by doing so stand up for the views of Dutch citizens.
…but so far, this has not been sufficiently successful.
Until now, the House of Representatives has only discussed digitisation in a fragmented way. This has meant that not all of the risks, opportunities and public values have been addressed. Equally, themes that affect several committees or do not belong specifically to one particular committee have not been given sufficient attention. Why is that?
- The House of Representatives is divided into committees. Each committee scrutinises a minister or state secretary in his or her policy area. Digitisation does not fit exclusively into one committee.
- At the same time, for the existing committees, digitisation is just one topic among many. This means that most MPs in these committees have only limited time to focus on issues about digitisation.
- As a subject, digitisation is relatively new; the House of Representatives has not yet gathered much knowledge about it.
- Finally, many laws and rules in the field of digitisation are determined in the European Union. This makes it more difficult for the House of Representatives to scrutinise the Cabinet when it needs to and calls for extra efforts on the part of MPs in order to ensure they are properly informed.
If politics is to provide more effective direction, digital changes need to be discussed in a different way: we need to discuss digital topics more frequently and more effectively and focus more attention on how these digital changes are interconnected. It is essential to have a good understanding of what is happening in the European Union and what is happening internationally, and also an understanding of the needs of provinces, municipalities and regional water authorities, who are calling for a House of Representatives that actively makes rules and laws. The TCDF has come to the conclusion that it is necessary to establish a standing parliamentary committee for Digital Affairs and has made the following recommendations to the House of Representatives.
Recommendation 1. Establish a standing committee for Digital Affairs
The TCDT proposes that a standing committee for Digital Affairs be established once the House of Representatives elections have taken place. This committee will be given the following tasks:
- To scrutinise and deal with legislation put forward by the Minister responsible for digitisation, or, in his or her absence, the Minister with which the committee primarily deals;
- To explore and assess current and future cross-committee developments in the field of digitisation and place them on the agenda;
- To inform other committees in the House of Representatives about relevant developments in the field of digitisation;
- To take the lead in dealing with digitisation issues in the House of Representatives that go beyond the remit of individual committees, coherently and comprehensively;
- To serve as a point of contact for digitisation issues both for the Cabinet and civil-society groups, the business community, academia and others.
Recommendation 2. Draw up a Digitisation knowledge agenda
It is important for the House of Representatives to obtain more knowledge and determine for itself which knowledge it needs and the standing committee for Digital Affairs should therefore draw up an annual Digitisation knowledge agenda.
Recommendation 3. Offer support to other parliamentary committees on this issue
The standing parliamentary committees, all of which deal with issues relating to digitisation to a greater or lesser extent, must be able to rely on the work done by the standing committee for Digital Affairs.
Recommendation 4. Ensure that there is a comprehensive statutory framework and system of supervision
The standing committee for Digital Affairs will address the issue of whether existing legislation and regulations are adequate in view of digital developments. If necessary, it will propose amendments or additions to these. The committee will ensure it is regularly and cohesively informed about digitisation issues by the supervisory authorities, including as a result of possible gaps or overlaps in supervision.
Recommendation 5. Additional focus on legislation from the European Union
The standing committee for Digital Affairs will be informed at an early stage about European Union proposals and the Dutch position in European discussions about them, enabling it to help shape and scrutinise the Netherlands’ input in the European Union.