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Ministry enlisted support of provincial executive in gas debate: ‘Unprecedented’

At the request of outgoing minister Stef Blok, the Province of Groningen wrote a letter to support the minister in his rejection of two amendments by the Dutch House of Representatives.

Wim Voermans

Shortly before an important debate on strengthening homes in the earthquake area, at the request of outgoing minister Stef Blok (Economic Affairs and Climate, VVD), Henk Staghouwer, member of the Provincial Executive of Groningen, sent a letter to support him in rejecting two amendments passed by the House of Representatives.

Blok then used the letter to defuse criticism from the House of Representatives. This was reported by Dutch regional newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden.

Professor of Constitutional and Administrative Law Wim Voermans calls this course of events unprecedented in an article in the Dagblad van het Noorden. According to Voermans, Minister Blok attempted to invalidate the amendments ‘outside the normal democratic legislative process’, and Staghouwer allowed himself to be used ‘like some kind of errand boy to manipulate the House of Representatives’.

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