Pieter Oud

5 Dec 1886
12 Aug 1968
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Pieter Jacobus Oud (5 December 1886 – 12 August 1968) was a prominent liberal Dutch politician who served held numerous political offices, including member of the House of Representatives, Minister of Finance and Mayor of Rotterdam.

He was a founding member of the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) and the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). Before the war he was member of the left-liberal Freethinking Democratic League (VDB).

Oud came from a middle-class family, his father traded in tobacco, wine and, later, stocks and served as alderman in Purmerend. Oud attended HBS in Amsterdam graduating in 1904.

He continued to study to become notary between 1904 and 1907. During this time he had become member of the board of the League of Freethinking Propaganda Associations, the freethinking liberal youth organisation. He took a private courses in registration in Gorinchem between 1907 and 1909. Between 1909 and 1911 he was civil servant within the ministry of Finance responsible for registration and government possessions.

In 1911 he became a tax collector on Texel. In 1912 he took his matriculation in order to study law at the University of Amsterdam. He combined his work as tax collector with his study of law. In the same year he married Johanna Cornelia Fischer, from this marriage they got one son.

In 1914 he became tax collector in Ommen. Meanwhile, he was mobilized as Sergeant of the seventh regiment infantry, which was stationed near Amsterdam between 1914 and 1916. Between 1915 and 1919 he was member of the national board of the VDB. He graduated in 1917 on basis of a disputation.

Oud was elected in 1917 elections for the VDB, the last election with runoff voting, in the second round he beat the Staalman of the left-wing Christian Democratic Party for the district of Den Helder. He retained his legal position as tax collector, but was given a leave for undetermined time.

he was even promoted to inspector of finances in 1921, while on leave. In 1918 Oud stood for elections again and was elected with 5,000 preference votes, mainly from the district of Den Helder. While MP, Oud also served as secretary of the VDB national board and editor of the De Vrijzinnige Democraat, the party’s magazine.

In parliament Oud took a particular interest in military matters and education, and served as the party’s finance spokesperson. As MP he served as member of the Committee on the Navy between 1923 and 1933 and the Committee on the Army since 1925. He was chairman of the Association for the promotion of Public Education “People’s Education” for many years.

In 1933 Oud became Minister of Finance in the second cabinet led by Colijn. As minister he was responsible for a large scale operation of budget cuts, during a time of economic crisis.

In 1935 he proposed the Bezuigingswet 1935 (the Budget Cut law 1935) which involved many budget cuts and financial reorganisations: salaries of civil servants were cut, the old age pensions were financed in a different way and for budgetary reasons, soldiers were to become civil servants after a certain period. Although his proposals lead to a political crisis, they were nonetheless carried by parliament.

In the same year, after Marchant left the VDB after a scandal, Oud succeeded him as political leader of the VDB. Oud led the VDB in the 1937 elections and returned to the House of Representatives as chair of the parliamentary party. He also served as chair for the Committee on government expenditure.

After 1963, Oud retired from Dutch political life. He was only asked upon at times of great crisis. In 1966 he was member of the committee, which advised government on the ministerial responsibility towards members of the royal house, together with Willem Drees. In the same year, he co-authored a book on a new constitution.

When Oud died in 1968, his family wanted to announce his death after the burial. His GP did not know this, and told a patient that evening that Oud had died that afternoon. The father of this patient happened to be a journalist for the socialist paper Het Vrije Volk, which published a large In Memoriam the next morning.

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