SP wants debate with Balkenende
24 September 2007, THE HAGUE – The Socialist SP wants to know whether the cabinet will block a private member's bill from Parliament proposing a referendum on the new EU treaty. SP MP Harry van Bommel will submit a request on Tuesday for an emergency debate with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Since Balkenende is abroad at the moment a debate will not be possible until next week.
24 September 2007
THE HAGUE – The Socialist SP wants to know whether the cabinet will block a private member's bill from Parliament proposing a referendum on the new EU treaty. SP MP Harry van Bommel will submit a request on Tuesday for an emergency debate with Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
Since Balkenende is abroad at the moment a debate will not be possible until next week.
Van Bommel's request comes in response to a report in the Volkskrant on Saturday that the government will refuse to sign any private member's bill for a referendum should one by adopted by both houses of Parliament. The "countersignature" of the cabinet is required for the bill to become law.
The cabinet decided on Friday that it would not organise a referendum on the new EU treaty. A recommendation from the Council of State advises that the new treaty, unlike its predecessor from 2005, does not have a constitutional character. A referendum is therefore not necessary, according to the cabinet.
Balkenende did not want to say on Friday what the cabinet would do if Parliament were to come with a private member's bill for a referendum. The SP is working on such a bill, which can count on support from the Freedom Party PVV, green-left GroenLinks and D66.
If the Labour PvdA supports the bill as well, there would be a majority in favour. The social democrats will decide on Tuesday whether to lend support.
Van Bommel says it would be remarkable if the cabinet were to refuse its cooperation on a private member's bill. "That is why I want absolute clarity on the matter." GroenLinks also wants clarification.
Van Bommel has found only one example in recent parliamentary history when the cabinet refused to cooperate on such a bill. In 1986 prime minister at the time Ruud Lubbers threatened to withhold his signature from a bill on euthanasia, but the matter was resolved in the end.
It is still doubtful whether a private member's bill providing for a referendum would be passed by Parliament. Even if the lower house approves it, there is a good chance it will be rejected by the upper house. The support of the VVD would be necessary for a majority in the Senate and the VVD senators are not at all positively inclined towards referenda.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]
Subject: Dutch news