Deputy Dutch agriculture minister under fire

14th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Deputy Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker survived a motion of no confidence today in parliament put forward by the Animal Rights Party. The party still reeling from the deputy minister’s last minute intervention in the Senate on Tuesday night which thwarted party leader Marianne Thieme’s attempts to defend her bill banning ritual slaughter.

In spite of their criticism of the deputy minister, the opposition parties were not prepared to go as far as to support a motion of no confidence. The Labour Party wants nature to be transferred to the environment and infrastructure ministry, which has more money. Green Left says it has less faith in the deputy minister after every nature debate, but did want to give him the chance to improve his Nature Act.

Ms Thieme said she had had enough of the Deputy Minister Bleker who is transferring responsibility for nature to the provinces while cutting its budget by 600 million euros at the same time. She criticised him for threatening emergency legislation if the provinces refuse to agree to the decentralisation. She says it is unimaginable that he has ignored recommendations by experts in the field, who warn his policies will lead to a deterioration of nature in the Netherlands.

The deputy minister waas unable to explain what will happen if more of the country’s 12 provinces follow the example of North Brabant, Groningen and Flevoland and refuse to agree to the deal.

Mr Bleker said provinces which do sign the deal will keep the agreed amount of money. He told the opposition that turning the agreement down would not mean that cuts would not go ahead.

Meanwhile the provincial umbrella organisation IPO which is negotiating the Nature Act criticised the proposal. One of the problems is the division of responsibilities. For instance the provinces will be made financially liable for damage to agricultural crops caused by wildlife, while it is still up to the government to decide when hunting is allowed.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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