Published On: Tue, Nov 25th, 2014

Schotte: “President of Parliament frustrates questions right MPs”

Schotte1WILLEMSTAD - Last week, the MFK faction asked questions to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Jose Jardim, during the treatment of the budget in the first period. According to the leader of the MFK faction, these questions were not answered by the minister. When the MFK faction wanted to ask the minister to answer those questions, they were referred to the second term by the President of Parliament. The questions were supposed to be repeated in the second term of the meeting, the President of Parliament told the MFK faction. The faction protested against this because they saw in it a violation of the question rights of the MPs, such as the obligation of the minister to provide information to the MPs. This is article 57 of the Constitution.

However, the fraction received no answer and the parliament clerk was asked to advise on the incident. According to the clerk, the rights of the MPs were not violated by the conduct of the President. The clerk points out that ministers, in accordance with Article 57 of the Constitution, have to answer questions of the MPs “within a reasonable time”. The President of Parliament can therefore say that answering the questions in the second term of the meeting is “within the limits of reasonableness”. “This means that no legal rules have been violated,” said the clerk of parliament.

According to Schotte, the MFK faction does not agree with that interpretation. After all, it is not about a reasonable time for answering questions, but the character of the second term of the budget debate in parliament. This second term is mandatory prescribed in Article 71 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament. The significance of this is that it is an opportunity for MPs to react to what was said in the first term. The president cannot deny them this right. “By telling the MPs to ask the same questions again in the second term, the President of Parliament has deprived the MPs their right to react to the minister’s answers given in the first term. This means, of course, that a minister can never ignore an MPs question in the first term. This would take away the meaning of a parliamentary debate and thus against article 57 of the Constitution. The President is not allowed to impose a third term on the MPs. This requires the consent of parliament as a whole,” Schotte said in a statement to the press.

“Therefore, the President’s conduct was indeed contrary to the Rules of Procedure. The opinion given by the clerk did not change anything to that fact,” Schotte said.

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