How to debate in the netherlands

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How are debates organized in the law-making body in the Netherlands?

Barbara Blokker


Table of content

The senate Page 3

The rules Page 4

Bibliography Page 6

The Senate

I have chosen to inform you about how debates are organized in the senate. The 75 members of the Senate (Eerste Kamer) of the Dutch Parliament (the States General) are elected by the members of the twelve Provincial Councils.

The Senate's main duties are in the legislative field, but it also plays a role in scrutinising the actions of the Government. Formally the Senate could only reject or accept legislation. In practice, however, it has rather more possibilities and debates are of importance. For example, statements made by government ministers in debates on bills (draft legislation) can play a role in future lawsuits. The debates in the Senate contribute to the interpretation of a law. Moreover, members of the Senate can elicit undertakings from ministers about the implementation of a law.

Directly after a bill has been passed by the House of Representatives it is sent to the Senate. Here the bill is submitted to a parliamentary committee. The committee decides whether the bill can be immediately put on the agenda of the full chamber or whether there should first be preparatory study of the bill. If a bill is immediately put on the agenda of the full chamber, it will be passed as a formality without a debate.

The preparatory study of a bill consists mainly in written correspondence and the exchange of documents. The members of the committee present the views of their parliamentary party in writing and put questions to the Government. The Government replies in a note or memorandum of reply. Sometimes, there may be several rounds of correspondence, but one is generally...