Combining membership of the Chamber with a job as Secretary of State in the demissionary cabinet is no longer an issue in this cabinet. That‘s what demissionary Prime Minister Rutte said in a debate with the Chamber about the dual functions, which has aroused a lot of debate over the past few weeks.
VVD MP Yesilgöz, VVD MP Wiersma and D66 MP Van Weyenberg were appointed Secretary of State in the departments of Economic Affairs, Social Affairs and Employment and Infrastructure and Water Management respectively, while remaining at the same time Members of Parliament.
MPs and a number of professors mentioned that combination in violation of the Constitution. The fact that a Member of Parliament can control his own functioning as Secretary of State, many parties, from left to right, call undesirable.
Rutte previously ruled that it can. He insists that it may be possible to constitutionally, but acknowledges that “it would have been better if we had thought longer about its sensitivity and took more time to consult with the House”.
Rutte now also called the combination of functions “undesirable” and acknowledged that his thinking in this field had “shifted”. In any case, MPs who become an executive in a demissionary cabinet will no longer combine the functions, Rutte promises.
Rutte says he is happy with the “three new talents” in the demissionary cabinet. But “given the consensus we are establishing here with each other, we would do things differently from now on,” he acknowledged.
When asked by PvdA-MP Arib why three more secretary of state had to join a demissionary cabinet that should actually “especially fit the store” Rutte replied that this has to do with the departing directors and the considerable workload.
The Chamber has requested advice from the Council of State on the matter. It came with a judgment last week: there are several interpretations of the Constitution conceivable, but there is “not enough ground to conclude that, in the circumstances, the continuation of membership of the Chamber is contrary to the Constitution”.
However, the Council also calls the state of affairs “unhappy” from a constitutional point of view. Some parties in the Chamber, including CDA and VVD, made a plea in the debate for a committee examining what constitutionally can and cannot do. It’s still unclear if there will be a committee like that.