Apologies, good intentions and reflection were too great in the debate on the Council Minutes. Demissionary Prime Minister Rutte said he was “not proud” of his words about critical MPs during the childcare affair. Deep into the night, a motion by GroenLinks and PvdA on a new culture of governance was passed. It seems to strike a line under the mistrust that has prevailed in The Hague in recent times.
Earlier this evening, Rutte called it “inappropriate” that he agreed that MPs of the coalition should be more constructive than the opposition. Minister Ollongren of the Interior then promised to improve the provision of information to the House of Representatives. Minister Great Tit of Social Affairs did not want to oppose MPs, he stressed. “I just wanted to blow off steam. That doesn‘t look pretty.” The minutes stated that he had shown himself “very disgruntled” to the critical MPs Omtzigt (CDA) and Lodders (VVD).
CDA-Minister Hoekstra said that he had not wanted to shut up Omtzigt with his attempt to “sensitize” his party mate. Hoekstra wanted to point out Omtzigt, the most critical questioner in the childcare allowance affair, only to the implementation problems at the Tax Administration, he said. “We did not say, Pieter, now calm down.” And Minister Kaag had only good intentions with her remark in the minutes about “frameworks” for critical MPs. “It was about dealing with each other properly, with values and standards,” she said.
Prime Minister Rutte and the relevant directors explained their statements in the secret ministerial minutes of 2019 on the payment affair during the more than fifteen hours of Chamber debate. These were made public on Monday by a very large exception after coverage of RTL Nieuws.
The opposition parties PVV, SP and Denk expressed disgrace of the minutes during the debate. According to them, this provided evidence that the Rutte Cabinet had deliberately withheld information – something which, moreover, was shown in December by the Van Dam Commission’s investigation. This is seen in politics in The Hague as a mortal sin.
The House of Representatives came back from holiday to debate these minutes. A pencil debate on the progress of formation was removed from the agenda. Informer Tjeenk Willink had to wait with the presentation of his final report
Take a look at the most important moments of the debate here:
Rutte does not think that he misinformed the Chamber for political reasons in 2019, as it turned out during the debate. “It is not the case that 16 ministers have thought: ‘How are we going to circumvent the Chamber? ‘ That did not happen,” said the Prime Minister.
He acknowledged that many mistakes have been made during the whole payment affair. That attracts Rutte personally. “It seized me. Nobody is in politics to do this to people.” The cabinet has resigned for nothing, also emphasizes Hoekstra. “We have offered our apologies several times. This is the biggest bleed on our blazon.”
Many parents have to wait even longer for money
Secretary of State Van Huffelen of Finance acknowledged that the payment affair has still not been resolved. Less than half of the notified group of parents will receive compensation of 30,000 euros before 1 May. The payment scandal is still more complex than expected.
Prime Minister Rutte expressed his willingness to change the relationship between the House of Representatives and the Council of Ministers. The current monistic culture of governance, in which coalition parties and the Cabinet work closely together, has had its best time.
GroenLinks and the PvdA launched a comprehensive plan for a new governance culture, which was supported by a majority of the House of Representatives. This means that there must be more money for social advocacy, that discriminatory algorithms should be stopped and that the information position of the Chamber must be restored to its honorary status.
The motion of censure against the whole cabinet did not reach a majority, as it turned out after the roll-call vote. There was also a motion of censure against the way in which the Cabinet operates, but it was not supported by a majority.
Informer Tjeenk Willink will be presenting his final report later today. Next week there will be a debate in the Chamber, in which it will probably be clear which parties want to talk to each other about a coalition to be formed.
Read the whole debate back? Read our live blog here.