I have heard in several countries about cabinet members stepping down after they had failed their responsibilities.
What has happened:
The minister of Safety and Justice and his second in command, the secretary of Safety and Justice have both stepped down today in the Netherlands. They have asked requested the King to accept their resignation.
What was the reason they stepped down:
In 2000, years and years before the current minister Opstelten was in power, there was a case where the government had made a deal with a known drug dealer. From what I understood they had confiscated millions of (at that time) Guilders of a criminal called Cees H.
The current number 2 in the ministry of safety and justice, Fred Teeven, at that time prosecutor had made a deal with the criminal. For a fine of several hundred thousands Guilders, the rest of his money, 4,710,627.18 Guilders was given back to him.
Now in our system a current minister is in some ways responsible for decisions made by his predecessors (of these digressions where very serious). And the minister is responsible to accurately inform the 2nd chamber (our version of the house of representatives) about all the questions asked of him.
Now our members of parliament had asked Opstelten about this deal with that criminal. He had informed the house that the sum of money he got was 2 million Guilders. When asked to inquire in his own ministry of Justice and the prosecution office about this deal and present the full details back to the house, he stated that nowhere in the entire ministry that information was available so he kept to his low ball figure of 2 million.
Now the really ridiculous thing is that his second in command was the person who actually made that deal with this drugs criminal. If anyone should have known or should have been able to dig up this information, it was his second in command former prosecutor Teeven.
A few days ago a news program in the Netherlands had all the necessary information about exactly how much money was given back. A big flippant the minister said that he would appreciate if that news show would provide him with that information because in his ministry this information was nowhere to be found. After a few days of looking further, he came up with a screen print that showed the correct amount that was given back to this criminal.
He, in other words had lied to our parliament on official requests for information from the members of parliament. He is responsible for the failure of his employees (civil servants) to find the information, even though news shows and news media where able to obtain that information. He had to eat humble pie.
So during the debate of tonight he had to go to our parliament to explain why he failed in his job and why he had given incorrect information to our parliament.
Tonight he decided that for his failure in this case and the fact that he had incorrectly informed our parliament, he had no other choice than to hand in his resignation.
Now here is the question, should politicians and members of cabinet/positions of power be more willing to show moral fiber and step down when they have failed in their duty to the publlic?„Just now, I have sent to parliament the answers to the questions that had been asked of me regarding the news stories regarding the settlement of the public prosecution office with Cees H. which occurred 15 years ago.
I have always stated that it was of vital importance that there has to be clarity with regard to the financial specifics regarding this settlement.
On June 3rd, last year, I had written to parliament that I had requested of my civil servants that they would check whether or not it was possible for find the requested information in the administrative archives of my department.
Based on the information that was, at that time, available to me I had informed parliament that this was not possible.
After recent news stories during the past few days, I had ordered my civil servants to undertake an all out effort to dig up the information that I had been told was impossible to retrieve. This search may not have resulted in bank statements or other documents.
However, there was found a digital confirmation that in 2001 a sum of 4.7 million Guilders had been paid out to Cees H.
That means that this information had always been always been available in the administration of my ministry.
This information could have been, in retrospect, found sooner.
So I have to conclude that during a long period, there has been uncertainty about the specifics with regard to this settlement.
For this I will take full responsibility.
And because of that I have just offered my resignation to the King.