Ministers several times critically about “tricky” MPs

Ministers have repeatedly criticized in the Council of Ministers about MPs who wanted more information about the payment affair, especially if they were parliamentarians from coalition groups. This is evident from a first reading of dozens of pages of minutes sent by the Cabinet to the House of Representatives this evening.

Minister Koolmees of Social Affairs (D66) is disappointed by CDA‘er Pieter Omtzigt and VVD-member Helma Lodders. They would have a joint struggle with the SP against the then Secretary of State Snel, a party member of Great Tits. As far as Great Tit is concerned, the role of the two coalition fractions is ‘little helpful‘ in solving the problems.

From reports from RTL Nieuws it became clear last week that CDA minister Hoekstra had tried to ‘sensitize‘ his party colleague Omtzigt, to reason. The minutes released show that Hoekstra was also annoyed by Omtzigt’s suggestion that officials from his Ministry of Finance were incompetent. The sensitization turned out to nothing.

VVD-Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen says on 12 July 2019 that it is by no means acceptable that coalition fractions take a sharper position than opposition fractions. Prime Minister Rutte agrees with her.

In that same meeting, D66 Minister Kaag is taking up for the critical MPs of the coalition parties. She calls it a healthy sign that there is a fierce debate. But this must be done within ‘workable framework’ and the Cabinet has to agree on this with the chairmen of the coalition parties.

But the overall picture is that many ministers are annoyed by the constant flow of questions from the House of Representatives. As a result, Secretary of State Snel does not have the right to actually solve the problems of the Tax Administration, so is the reasoning.

Highly sensitive

The publication of the minutes was promised on Friday by the Cabinet after reporting by RTL Nieuws, which reported in a reconstruction based on sources among other things that the government deliberately withheld information about the payment affair from the House of Representatives.

This is very sensitive, not only because the payment affair is a delicate subject that has already been dealt with by this cabinet. Recently, comments by VVD-leader Rutte about Omtzigt in the formation led to a motion of censure in the House of Representatives. Precisely trust and the desire for a new style of governance are also central to the formation.

The minutes show that there was a constant discussion in the cabinet about what should or should not be shared with the House of Representatives. Concept documents and official notes should remain secret, according to several ministers. According to them, they do not fall within the scope of the duty to inform the Chamber of the Cabinet.

This also applied to the full factual story that the Chamber wanted to have on the initiative of Omtzigt. Secretary of State Snel refuses to give that because it would have far-reaching consequences for other dossiers. Minister Grapperhaus continues to express his concerns about not providing the factual report, but in the end he receives support for his attitude by the Council of Ministers.

The publication of the minutes of the Council of Ministers is highly exceptional. These pieces normally remain secret for 25 years, although scientists can sometimes use them for research after about 20 years.

According to Prime Minister Rutte, it remains this once. Confidential deliberations in the Council of Ministers are crucial for the long-term governability of the Netherlands, because of the function of the Council of Ministers throughout the state system, he writes.