In the letter, seen by De Telegraaf, Bergkamp reiterated that she “expects all ministers and ministers of state to remain available for question time”, unless they have other urgent matters. This includes, for example, “obligations relating to the royal house, obligations in the Senate and inescapable external obligations,” Bergkamp writes: “these are formal reasons for unsubscribing.”
Bergkamp wrote the letter after discontent erupted in the House of Representatives on Tuesday about Kag’s absence. Socialist Party leader Lillian Marijnesen wanted to ask Prime Minister Mark Rutte questions about purchasing power. He withdrew with the approval of the House of Representatives because he had to prepare for a European summit. But to her great surprise and especially to her anger, she did not meet Marinissen Kaag in the Chamber of Deputies, because at the same time the Minister gave a speech on Europe in Maastricht.
Kaag defended herself by saying that she had already canceled her subscription at the time of the question before long and that she had also linked an overseas visit to her speech. But sources from The Hague see a visit to a cross-border waste project in Belgium as a needed pretext.
Not a valid excuse
In any case, there does not appear to be a question of ‘deterministic external obligations’. In her letter, Bergkamp states that the fact that Kaag opted out is also not a valid excuse: “A previously reported absence for reasons other than those officially stated never provides certainty about not having to be present at the time of the question.”
Bergkamp wrote that she is sending the letter because due to the uproar on Tuesday, there is “possibly a misunderstanding” about the rules surrounding question time for ministers. The letter is addressed to all ministries, but informed sources indicate that few other ministers feel addressed.
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