Speaker of the House of Representatives Vera Bergkamp is ‘limited’ in her options for tackling integrity issues within a political group. “There is no authority relationship between a Member of Parliament and the President of the House,” she responds to revelations from this news site about Forum for Democracy.
According to former employees, Thierry Baudet’s political party had an intimidating, toxic and unsafe working atmosphere for years. Former FvD members who spoke negatively about the party were threatened with sky-high fines of up to 170,000 euros. But there are testimonies of a sex film, alcohol, intimidation and racism.
President of the House Vera Bergkamp emphasizes that it is ‘important that everyone can do his or her work safely in the House of Representatives’. “Integrity issues within a group are primarily the responsibility of the group itself,” she emphasizes. “The instruments of the President of the House and Presidium are limited in this regard. There is no relationship of authority between a Member of Parliament and the President of the House.”
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According to Bergkamp, the House of Representatives does regularly provide information to room residents – as employees of the House of Representatives are called. ,,So that they know where to go with problems.” She also tries ‘within the possibilities we have to ensure a safe working climate in the House of Representatives’.
In addition, she says she is looking at ‘what improvements can be made in a general sense to have and keep a safe working environment in the House of Representatives’.
On June 16, 2022 – almost ten months ago – Bergkamp, together with the clerk of the House of Representatives, launched ‘a broad independent investigation into social safety among MPs, party employees and civil servants’ at the House of Representatives.
A research and consultancy agency affiliated with the Department of Public Administration and Organizational Science (USBO) of Utrecht University is conducting the research. It was supposed to be ready in February this year, but Bergkamp now expects the results on April 17. It should also paint a picture of the current working climate in the House of Representatives. According to the President of the House, the recommendations and results should ‘provide a basis’ for possibly further improving the policy on social safety.
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