Back to work: the new parliamentary year starts

Dutch ParliamentAlthough many MPs and ministers have been back at their desks for at least a week now, the official new parliamentary year starts on Tuesday.

The summer recess was quieter than in previous years, according to broadcaster Nos, which points out that prime minister Mark Rutte only had to return to carry out parliamentary business once: a debate about Greece at the end of August.

In addition, ministers have been putting the finishing touches to the 2016 budget, which will be formally presented to parliament in three weeks’ time. This, too, has been straightforward in the main, insiders say.

Several issues are set to dominate the coming weeks. The Liberal democratic party D66 has already called for an immediate debate about Dutch and European refugee policy.

The issue divides the Labour-Liberal coalition, the Nos points out. Labour back redistributing refugees throughout Europe but the VVD says this is purely treating the symptoms and wants effort to ensure refugees are given a safe haven in their own region.

Big fat me

MPs are also calling for a debate on a speech given by the prime minister at a VVD conference in the summer. During the speech, Rutte slammed what he called the ‘big fat me mentality’ in the Netherlands.

The comments irritated various MPs, including Labour leader Diederik Samsom, who disapproves of a direct attack on people claiming benefits.

On Thursday MPs will debate a petition on healthcare cuts drawn up by the FNV and CNV union federations and signed by over 700,000 people. In particular, junior health minister Martin van Rijn is under fire.

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