Justice Minister criticized over private party at ambassador's house

Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice is facing criticism over a party he held in the ambassador's residence in Paris earlier this year. The main problem is that he did not pay for the venue. Parliamentarians are wondering whether Ministers should be allowed to hold private functions ont taxpayers' money, AD reports.

In a reaction Van der Steur stated that he paid for the catering and musicians at the party himself. According to him, he's been organizing an annual classical concernt to recruit donors for the national musical fund since 2003. In consultation with the ambassador in France, it was decided that this year's concert will be held in the ambassador's residence - an elegant building dating from 1723. 

According to the Minister, other companies and organizations hold events there from time to time. At special occasions, the embassy pays, for example, for the catering. In other cases, the residence is made available free of charge and everything is at the cost of the person holding the event. 

Invitations to this particular event was sent out by Van der Steur himself. He announced his engagement after the concert.

CDA parliamentarian Madeleine van Toorenburg called this "engagement party" something that Ministers "simply should not do", to the Telegraaf. SP parliamentarian Michiel van Nispen added: "Or we should choose to make it possible for all Dutch, not exclusive to the Minister."

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there is no guidelines for the private use of the residencies. The handboek for incoming officials also does not explicitly prohibit this practice, a spokesperson said to AD. 

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