VVD senator criticised for ‘conflict of interest’ in social work reform

Photo: Guilhem Vellut via Wiki Commons

A senator with the VVD party has come under fire for voting on a controversial bill to reform social work that was drafted with the help of her own advice bureau.

Investigative website Follow The Money reported that Anne-Wil Duthler’s company, Duthler Associates, was hired in 2013 by the public health ministry (VWS) to advise on the draft text of the Social Support Act (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning). A number of recommendations were included in the bill presented to Parliament.

After being approved by the lower house, the bill scraped through the senate by a majority of one (37-36). Duthler was one of the senators who voted in favour.

Wim Voormans, professor of constitutional law at Leiden University, said there was ‘at the very least a conflict of interest’ in Duthler’s dual role, while Muel Kaptein, professor of business ethics at Rotterdam School of Management, said her behaviour went ‘directly’ against the principle of keeping government and parliament separate.

A spokesman for the VVD told Follow The Money Duthler played no direct role in advising the government and her agency had been hired due to ‘lack of time’ within the ministry.

Duthler chairs the senate’s standing committee on justice and security and is also a member of the committees on home affairs, general affairs (the prime minister’s department) and immigration and asylum.

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