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Clerk of the Parliaments

Volume 806: debated on Wednesday 30 September 2020

Retirement of Edward Ollard

My Lords, I wish to notify the House that I have received the following letter from the Clerk of the Parliaments:

“I write to inform you of my intention to retire from the office of Clerk of the Parliaments at Easter next year.

At that point I will have served as Clerk for four years and I think it will be a suitable point to hand over and to ensure an orderly transition to new leadership of the Administration.

It has been an immense privilege to work here in a fascinating variety of roles, since I joined in 1983. I have seen the House evolve and change massively during that time—but perhaps no more spectacularly than now, where the way in which we are currently working is not something most of us could previously have imagined. These last four years as a whole have contained more than their fair share of challenges for the House and the Administration, and I hope that we can continue to build on the positive changes we have collectively made to meet them.

I would be grateful if you could convey my deep appreciation to members in all parts of the House for their generous help and advice to me during my time here. Most of all, I would like to place on record my thanks to my colleagues, the staff of the House. I am indebted to them for their unstinting professionalism and dedication to the House, as well as their support and guidance to me personally.”

In light of the ongoing external management review, I will consult the leaders of the other parties, the Convenor of the Cross Benches and the Lord Speaker, and ensure that a recommendation for Ed’s successor as Clerk of the Parliaments is made to Her Majesty in good time, and of course, as is customary, I will put a Motion before the House nearer the time of his retirement to enable Members to pay a proper tribute to Ed’s distinguished service.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for reading out the letter and for saying that there will be time later in our calendar to thank the Clerk of the Parliaments for his service; there will be an opportunity for further comments then. I am grateful to the Clerk of the Parliaments—to Ed—for the timing of his announcement. That is clearly for the benefit of the House and not for his own benefit, because he will be working throughout the football season and will miss the opportunity to see quite as much of his beloved Charlton as he would like; and because he will be cycling to the House throughout the cold, wet winter, as I know having regularly seen him clad in Lycra. It is helpful that he has set out a timetable and we are grateful for that. We look forward to working with the noble Baroness to choose his successor and to pay appropriate tributes in due course.

My Lords, as other noble Lords have said, this is extremely sensible timing. Ed Ollard, unlike most of his predecessors, however distinguished, will be remembered for change and for that we are extremely grateful. The time will come for us to pay proper tributes, but the process that has been outlined is sensible. It will give us a chance to think about the options going forward. We hope that Ed will enjoy his remaining few months as much as I know he has enjoyed the previous few months.

My Lords, as the Leader of the House has just indicated, there will be an opportunity for tributes in due course. However, I am sure that the whole House will join me at this moment in thanking the Clerk of the Parliaments for his long and distinguished service. The constitutional and procedural advice that he provides for me is utterly invaluable and his leadership over the past three and a half years has been exemplary.

Sitting suspended.