MPs agreed on Thursday to delay a major debate on the cabinet’s plans to increase the state pension age to 67 after prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende said he would attend next week after all.
Opposition MPs had earlier reacted furiously to the refusal of Balkenende and finance minister Wouter Bos to attend a debate scheduled for this (Thursday) evening, despite being invited to attend.
Instead the debate was to be led by social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner and his deputy Jetta Klijnsma.
But now a new date will be set for next week and both Balkenende and Bos will be there, the Telegraaf quoted parliamentary chairwoman Gerdi Verbeet as saying.
Femke Halsema, leader of the left-wing green party GroenLinks said earlier she was extremely disappointed about the prime minister’s non-attendance and called for a boycott of the debate.
Liberal leader Mark Rutte said the prime minister’s decision not to attend was ”holding parliament in contempt’. The planned increase in the state pension is one of the few things the government is doing to counteract the economic crisis and the prime minister should lead the debate himself, Rutte said.
A spokesman for Balkenende told the Telegraaf earlier the prime minister and finance minister had never agreed to be at today’s debate. They had both repeatedly defended the policy and it is up to the social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner to deal with the details, the spokesman said.
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