Thursday, 6 July, was the last sitting day of the House of Representatives before the summer recess. On that last day, the House often sits late into the night, but this year, due to the ongoing Cabinet formation, the House's schedule was less packed than usual in the weeks before the summer recess. The House is in recess up to and including Monday 4 September. The first plenary sitting after the summer will take place on Tuesday, 5 September. In the meantime, the negotiations on the formation of a new Cabinet will continue, except for a short holiday break.
On Thursday, 23 March, the newly elected House set to work, with 71 new MPs out of a total of 150. On Tuesday, 6 July, the House in its new composition was exactly 106 days in office. In her closing speech before the summer recess, the President of the House, Ms Khadija Arib said, with a nod towards her fellow MPs, that the introductory period for the new House was officially over. Arib: “So, after the recess: do not exceed your speaking time, keep interruptions short, address Cabinet members and fellow parliamentarians through the Chair, do not provoke discussion during an explanation of vote and, by all means, do not yell at your colleagues from behind your desk.”
According to Arib, most new MPs have found their way by now. "I heard so over the lunches I had with new MPs. It is, of course, regrettable that after every election we lose part of our collective memory because former colleagues leave the House, but we get a lot of new energy and ideas in return. That is what I notice with many new MPs. It keeps the House alert", the Speaker said. Ms Arib announced that she will keep the House informed, during the recess, of any new developments in the Cabinet formation.
Fewer debates due to the cabinet formation process
The Rutte II Cabinet is outgoing, meaning that the Cabinet has the authority to rule the country, but may in actual practice only deal with current affairs. Politically sensitive issues are not dealt with until a new Cabinet will have taken office. The committees of the House of Representatives have determined which subjects are "controversial". That is why there were fewer debates than usual in the weeks leading up to the summer recess.
Wat do MPs do during the recess?
Of course, part of the recess is vacation time for MPs and their staff, but the work goes on throughout the summer recess as well. MPs keep asking written questions to the Government and the Government sends documents to the House. Moreover, during the summer VVD, CDA, D66 and Christian Union continue their negotiations on the formation of a new Cabinet. These negotiations take place in the Stadholder's Room in the building of the House of Representatives
Dossiers and working visits
Besides, the summer recess allows MPs to keep up with their dossiers and professional literature. They also have time for working visits and work placements in order to acquire experience and knowledge in a certain area. In this way, they can experience first-hand how government policy impacts on organisations and citizens. MPs use the input from these activities in their debates and for developing new ideas or bills.
By way of an exception, the House may return from recess for a debate on a topical issue.