MPs back plea to senate to “pause” talks on spreading refugees

Dilan Yesilgoz talks to Geert Wilders during Wednesday's debate. Photo: Sem van der Waal ANP

A majority of MPs voted in favour of a motion to ask the senate to “pause” their work on legislation which will ensure local authorities that currently provide no help to refugees do their fair share. 

The motion was a watered-down version of a proposal submitted by VVD leader Dilan Yesilgöz on Wednesday which led to a storm of criticism from MPs who are not part of the current coalition negotiations. 

Caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte has already said that he will not act on the motion and that it is up to the upper house of parliament to manage its own agenda. Yesilgöz said on Wednesday that work on the new law should be halted because “measures to reduce the flow [of refugees] are high on the agenda” of the likely new government. 

The legislation gives ministers the right to force local authorities to accept refugees in proportion to their size and how prosperous they are.

Research by RTL Nieuws last year found that more than half of Dutch local councils have not provided any housing for refugees in the past 10 years and that richer council areas and Bible belt towns and villages are far less likely to have housed a refugee centre. 

The motion that MPs voted on no longer includes a formal request to the senate to delay their debate on the legislation, set for January 16, but expresses the “wish” that work on the law is paused.  

The Dutch security council, the local authorities association VNG, provincial councils and the 12 King’s Commissioners had written to MPs urging them not to try to stop the senate from debating legislation to ensure refugees are spread fairly across the country. 

Far-right parties FvD and JA21, and the fundamentalist Protestant SGP voted with the four right-wing and far-right parties currently negotiating to form a new government. 

Last month the refugee settlement agency COA said it would contact 45 municipalities that are failing to meet their obligations to provide shelter under a plan agreed upon between local mayors and provinces earlier in the month.

Last week government inspectors again sounded the alarm about conditions and overcrowding at the Ter Apel reception centre, in particular about hygiene standards and fire safety. 

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation