The Communications Department serves as the press and media office, acts as media representative for the House of Representatives, its President, the Presidium, the parliamentary committees and the administrative management and provides facilities to journalists. Communications Department can be contacted via the general telephone number +31(0) 70 – 318 3003, the general e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org or via the entrance at Lange Poten 4.
Parliamentary journalists can apply to the Communications Department for a press pass that enables access to the buildings of the House of Representatives (with a maximum period of validity of two years). Journalists whose work takes them to the House of Representatives on a more or less daily basis are designated as parliamentary journalists. This can be verified by means of a letter from their editor-in-chief.
Journalists who occasionally need access to the House of Representatives for their work are issued with a temporary access pass by the Communications Department (Room H215). They must show valid proof of identity and a valid press pass. The temporary access pass is valid for no more than a single day and must be handed in at the entrance at Lange Poten 4 (at the security desk) after use. Temporary access passes with a longer period of validity may be issued in exceptional cases.
In the absence of a press pass, journalists must be able to show a letter on official notepaper from the editor-in-chief confirming their assignment.
Guidelines apply for sound and/or image recordings (this explicitly includes photography) in the buildings of the House of Representatives. The guidelines have been posted at www.tweedekamer.nl and are available from the Communications Department. The guidelines also apply to journalists who make image or sound recordings using their own equipment (mobile phone, for example).
Journalists who have a permanent or temporary access pass have free movement within the buildings of the House of Representatives, with due observance of the rules and with the exception of the following areas on the first floor:
- The lobby area (Wandelgang) behind the Plenary Hall
- The Government Unit (Regeringsunit);
- The members' restaurant (Ledenrestaurant).
At certain times, rooms and corridors may be accessible to parliamentarians, officials, parliamentary group staff and invited guests only.
Rooms being used by parliamentary groups may not be entered without prior permission from the parliamentary group concerned. Journalists are not permitted to access or make recordings in the areas around the entrances to the parliamentary group rooms without the express permission of the parliamentary group spokespersons.
Parliamentary Press Association
The parliamentary journalists have formed their own Parliamentary Press Association (Parlementaire Persvereniging, PPV), which has its own committee. The committee decides who is permitted to join the PPV. Journalists must usually specialise in parliamentary or political reporting in order to gain membership. Application forms for membership are available from the PPV chairperson, Joost Vullings.
Use of mobile phones
Mobile phones and other mobile equipment may not be used when parliament is sitting. When entering parliamentary halls or committee rooms, journalists must ensure that no disruption is caused by incoming calls or messages.
In the press room, three computers are available, together with a photocopier with integrated fax. This press room (P203) is located in the media tower (Mediatoren) adjacent to the Communications Department.
In the Plenary Hall, a total of 44 seats are reserved for the press in the press gallery. Some of these are pre-allocated to editorial teams on a permanent basis. In the rooms where public committee meetings are held, spaces are reserved for the press on the long table, in front of the first row of the public gallery.
Some editorial teams have their own workspace in the media tower. Users are charged for these rooms.
Information about parliamentary sittings, votes, press releases and SMS text alerts
Press releases are distributed via e-mail and published at www.tweedekamer.nl. Depending on the nature of the press release, they may also be issued to editors. Urgent press releases (announcements of press conferences scheduled at short notice) are distributed as quickly as possible.
The House of Representatives Communications Department uses SMS text alerts for parliamentary journalists, photographers and TV crew. Please contact the Communications Department if you wish to receive SMS text alerts.
SMS text alerts are issued:
- To provide details of the latest developments that may affect the schedule of sittings in the House of Representatives.
- To announce press conferences.
This information and other information regarding the House of Representatives, MPs and committees can be found on the House of Representatives website, www.tweedekamer.nl.
Press pigeonholes are available in the corridor adjacent to the Communications Department. Ministries, parliamentary groups and others can leave documents for the press here. Editors who wish to apply for a pigeonhole should contact the Communications Department.
In the press room (P203) a selection of the latest press cuttings can be consulted, containing articles about politics and interviews in various news categories (referred to in Dutch as the ‘Selectie’). This is compiled on a daily basis by the Netherlands Government Information Service (Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst). For other recent newspaper and magazine articles, please contact the Central Information Desk (Centraal Informatiepunt, CIP).
Questions about parliamentary sittings
Information about parliamentary sittings and committee meetings is available at www.tweedekamer.nl. For specific questions about the schedule of parliamentary sittings, please contact the Communications Department.
Official parliamentary documents, reports and verbatim reports of parliamentary proceedings can be found via www.officielebekendmakingen.nl or www.statengeneraaldigitaal.nl.
The provisional report (stenogram) of the current sitting is updated during the day on the website www.tweedekamer.nl. The officially adopted verbatim reports of all plenary sittings are posted in Dutch as 'Handelingen' at www.overheid.nl under 'parlementaire stukken' (parliamentary documents). You can also search for reports by date at www.overheid.nl in the 'date of publication' field (publicatiedatum).
The provisional report can be consulted approximately 90 minutes after the event at the Parliamentary Reporting Office. Pages can be copied on request. It is not permitted to quote directly from this as yet unauthorised version of parliamentary proceedings.
Documents sent to parliamentary committees
(policy papers and letters from ministers, documents sent to committees by third parties)
Documents sent by ministers to parliamentary committees for information or for the purpose of a committee meeting are often not printed as parliamentary documents. If public, these documents can be found at the website www.tweedekamer.nl. Copies of all documents sent to committees by third parties (with the exception of private individuals) can be requested from the Communications Department providing that the sender has not indicated that the letter is confidential.
Documents sent to committees after a call for comments in the Government Gazette can be consulted in the relevant committee office. None of these documents may be taken away, although copies may be made.
Written contributions from parliamentary groups and plenary contributions by spokespersons, for reports, etc. can be requested from the information departments of the separate parliamentary groups.
The Communications Department has various lists of information, including contact details of the various parliamentary groups.
Public and non-public committee meetings
In principle, parliamentary committee meetings are open to the public. However, the House may decide that a committee should meet in private. Committees can also decide to hold private meetings, for example at the request of the government or one or more MPs.
After a private committee meeting, MPs are permitted to reveal their own contributions providing that this does not undermine confidentiality.
Obviously, public committee meetings are open to the press. Documents tabled for discussion can be found on the website www.tweedekamer.nl. Reports of these committee meetings (referred to in Dutch as ‘wit stuk’) usually appear at a later date and can be found via www.officielebekendmakingen.nl.
Various types of consultations and debates are possible between parliamentary committees and ministers:
- A committee debate on draft legislation, in which motions may be put forward and about which a stenographic report is always compiled.
- A committee debate on a government policy paper, about which a stenographic report is compiled if the committee concerned requests this.
- A general debate, about which a stenogaphic report is compiled. No motions may be submitted.