'The public know how to have their say in The Hague’
In 2019, the Dutch House of Representatives featured at the very heart of public debate. According to President of the House of Representatives, ms. Khadija Arib, in her traditional pre-Christmas address, this was made even clearer by the numerous civil protests that were held. She cited the debate about the childcare allowance as one of those that had the greatest impact in the last year.
"The issues involving the childcare allowance really gave Pieter Omtzigt, Renske Leijten and the other spokespersons something to get their teeth into", said the speaker as voting came to an end at around midnight. “Along with the debates about the murder of Anne Faber, the Oss railway accident involving the ‘Stint’ and the murder of Joost Wolters, I think the debate about the childcare allowance was one of the most impactful of the last year. Many parents affected were sitting in the public gallery. Some parents applauded the contributions made by MPs. When that happens, it’s not easy to insist that the parliamentarians have the floor. Obviously, we really understand that people are very directly affected."
Packed public gallery
"The public know how to have their say in The Hague", she concluded. "The people we discuss here demand to be heard – they insist that their voice is given a place in our debates." Khadija Arib also mentioned several other debates that filled the public galleries and viewing rooms, such as those on the nitrogen issue and the education budget.
Debates and motions
The President made a reference to her previous appeals to Parliament to hold back in requesting debates and submitting motions. As yet, there is no sign of any downward trend, she said. "That’s a shame. But, at the same time, I acknowledge that our role is to question and scrutinise government."
Seventy-five years of freedom
The President also looked ahead to 2020, when the country marks 75 years of freedom. She announced that, as part of that, all MPs have been invited to pay a visit to Auschwitz.