The House of Representatives wants harassment and threat to become formal reasons for the President of Parliament to deprive a Member of Parliament or to take it out of a debate. The House today debated its own manners.
Chairman of the House Bergkamp wrote a note about this in February after discussions with all the political groups, except the PVV. That party was not present at the debate either. Most parties generally believe that the President of Parliament should be allowed to intervene a little more often, although freedom of expression should not be compromised.
Bergkamp agrees with that. “The free word has nothing to do with insulting people,” she said. “It is precisely the insulting of people or those social media videos of parties about certain MPs smother the free word. MPs sometimes say to me that they don‘t dare to say certain things anymore.”
Bergkamp said her intention is not to draw up a list of forbidden words. “It will always depend on the situation and the context,” she said. But she doesn’t want words like “idiot” or “crackling” to be used against a person, or other abusive words or swear words to be used.
Following the proposals of the Van der Staaij committee, most groups also wanted to make agreements about the working method. For example, it is about spending more time on careful legislation rather than a fuss, and about submitting fewer motions.
Several parties again criticized the way MPs of the Forum for Democracy sometimes hold the debate. MP Van Meijeren said that his party is not present in debates because they are “plays”. The reproaches back and forth did not lead to new insights.
Several parties found the moment of the debate unhappy, given the war in Ukraine. “It is wry and uncomfortable that we are talking about our manners, while democracy is literally being fought elsewhere,” said D66 MP Paternotte. SP MP Leijten called it embarrassing.
The debate was requested by BBB when there was no war yet, and has shifted several moments in the Chamber Agenda. MP Van der Plas thought it was time that the manners were discussed in public.