What is the difference between a minister and a state secretary?
A minister heads a ministry and has the overall responsibility. A state secretary is politically responsible for part of the policy area covered by a ministry. Both ministers and state secretaries are accountable to the parliament. There are also ministers without portfolio, who do not have charge of a ministry, but who fall under one of the ministries.
Can I attend meetings of the House of Representatives?
Yes, almost all plenary sittings and committee meetings are public. The public gallery of the Plenary Hall seats 240 people.
When are the recesses in 2017?
Spring recess: Friday 21 April - Monday 8 May 2017
Summer recess: Friday 7 July - Monday 4 September
Autumn recess: Friday 13 - Monday 23 October 2017
Christmas recess: Friday 22 December 2017 - Monday 15 January 2018
How can I contact members or express my opinion?
Letters and e-mail
You can always call or write to Members of Parliament, House Committees and parties. There is no need for complicated language or guardedly polite formalities. Members are addressed as Mr. and Ms., just like everyone else. You can address messages to Members directly via e-mail or letters. If you wish to contact more than one member about the same subject, you may wish to contact a committee or a party.
Send your letter to: Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, attn: [name of committee, party, member], Postbus 20018, 2500 EA The Hague, The Netherlands.
You have the option of submitting a petition to a committee of the House of Representatives or to the Speaker of the House. Petitions to the Speaker can only be made as part of a national project. Petition submissions may be requested via a letter explaining the purpose and the organisers of the petition. The House decides whether to accept the petition based on this letter.
Petition Citizens' initiative
A citizens' initiative is a proposal to improve some aspect of policy, such as the environment, education or public transportation, or to simplify a regulation. A citizens' initiative requests the House of Representatives to discuss your proposal and to make a decision. An initiative requires at least 40,000 signatures by registered voters for the House to consider it.
If someone has a personal complaint about the actions of the national government and an official objection is not an option, that person may appeal directly to the Senate or the House of Representatives. Both have an Appeals Committee that deal with complaints received.
What is the role of the spokespersons?
The House of Representatives deals with a great variety of issues. Members of Parliament do not know all about every issue. They decide which MP from their party will be the spokesperson for the various subjects. Usually, the spokesperson is a member of the committee dealing with that subject as well. For example, a member who is his or her party's representative in the Committee for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality might be the spokesperson for forestry. Each party announces who will be their spokespersons in advance for plenary sessions, and the speaker lists are drawn up using this information. For more information about spokespersons, please consult the parties.
Decisions of the House of Representatives
Once the House of Representatives has finished debating a subject, the MP's vote on the issue in a plenary session. The voting list shows if a bill has been adopted, rejected, repealed, delayed or lapsed. This also applies to any amendments and motions. The committees draw up decision lists of the conclusions and further actions they have decided upon, per subject.
Status of a bill
Bills submitted by the government or Members of Parliament are initially in a 'pending' status, which means that the House of Representatives will deal with them in a committee or in plenary session. All reports and documents dealing with a subject that the House of Representatives has discussed - such as a bill - have the same House document number. This number enables people to follow the outcome of the procedures in www.officielebekendmakingen.nl (Dutch language only), where also all documents regarding the work of the House can be found.
What type of reports are made?
Word-for-word reports are made for all plenary sessions. These are called the Handelingen (Proceedings), or the stenogram if they have not yet been officially adopted. Members of Parliament and officials whose words are recorded in the report, have the right to edit the text, but may only change what has not been accurately recorded.
Word-for-word reports are only made of committee meetings if the committee is discussing a bill or a memo from the government. In all other cases, lists of the decisions taken are published on the day of the meeting, or a report of the main items of discussion is published a few weeks after the meeting.
What is the difference between a plenary session and a meeting of a committee?
Plenary sessions are meetings of all 150 members of the Dutch House of Representatives. These sessions take place in the Chamber of the House (the Plenaire Zaal). A plenary debate is often the conclusion of a proposal that has already been discussed in a committee or is a debate about major issues, such as the Parliamentary Debate on the King's Speech. The House of Representatives can only vote on bills in a plenary session.
In a committee, those party members who are active in a certain field or subject meet to discuss that subject. The members who are active in education meet in the standing committee for Education, Culture and Science; those who deal with justice meet in the standing committee for Security and Justice. In principle, there is a standing committee for every ministry, with the exception of the Prime Minister's Ministry of General Affairs. There is also a standing committee that deals with the islands in the Caribbean that are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Ministers and State Secretaries often discuss their policy and bills in the committee meetings.
What is the allowance for members?
Members of Parliament receive an allowance for their work. This is called compensation (schadeloosstelling). The amount of the compensation is € 7.705,27 a month. Furthermore, MP's receive a yearly holiday allowance of 8% as well as an end of the year allowance in December.
The President of the House receives an additional 34%. Chairmen of parliamentary parties receive a minimum of 1% extra (for a parliamentary party consisting of 1 member) to a maximum of 11.5% extra (for parliamentary parties of 35 members and more).
Members of Parliament pay income taxes and social insurances are deducted over the gross salary. The fee for paid additional functions is deducted from the compensation to a maximum of 35%. Additional functions and the income connected with them have to be recorded in a public register.
When the membership of the Dutch Parliament ends, the compensation stops immediately, but former MP's can apply for a social security system.