Our clerk and chief executive, Claire Clancy, will retire this month, and this is her penultimate Plenary. She has served in the office for more than 10 years, and this will be Plenary No. 643 for her. To acknowledge the value of her contribution, I will invite comments from party leaders. Carwyn Jones.
Diolch, Llywydd. I can say that there are few benefits to ageing, but one of the pleasures of serving as a founder Member of the Assembly is having seen the institution grow and develop over nearly 20 years. And, having served for 10 years, Claire has provided leadership for more than half of the National Assembly’s existence, but she will leave, of course, a significant imprint behind. The post Claire took up in February 2007 was very directly the product of the Government of Wales Act 2006. A key element of that Act, of course, was to separate the National Assembly and the Government—the legislature, of course, from the Executive. It took us forward; it was an important step, in fact, in our maturity as a democracy. And, of course, behind it lay a great deal of work in setting up the Commission and tooling it to do the job that it required. And that will be Claire’s lasting legacy to the Assembly. She supervised the transformation of the Assembly from a somewhat ad hoc body into a pillar of Wales’s democracy, capable of operating as a professional scrutiny body, in both Welsh and English. We know that security, sadly, is an area where we’ve seen great change during the years of Claire’s stewardship. Working with the police, and her wider team, she has, of course, helped to respond to the changing security environment, while succeeding in retaining the Assembly that is open to the public, literally as well as morally. I know, Claire, that your stewardship and your role is the culmination of a long career of public service in Wales. Before coming here, you were the chief executive of Companies House. Before that, of course, a long career in skills and training in Wales, at the Manpower Services Commission, and elsewhere. And I know that, in the 1990s, Claire spent two years on St Helena, supporting her late husband, Mike, who is very well and fondly remembered by his former colleagues in the Welsh civil service. We know, as Members of this Assembly, that we look to the Commission to give us the support and infrastructure we need to do the jobs that our voters sent us here to do. So, could I thank Claire for all that she has done, and, of course, wish her every success and happiness in the future? [Applause.]
On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I’d like to place on record our gratitude to Claire Clancy for having served the National Assembly for 10 years. She’s been a constant source of support and guidance for all Members, across the Chamber. And, alongside the current and previous Presiding Officers, she’s developed and improved the Assembly since 2007—a period of significant change in how laws are made in Wales. We’ve seen a growth in the responsibilities of this Assembly. There’s also been a growth in voter turnout, public engagement and public support, and Claire Clancy has played a leading role in all of those developments. I’m confident that Welsh democracy will develop much further in the future, and that that will be possible because of the contribution that Claire has made to date. So, diolch yn fawr iawn, Claire, and best wishes to you for the future.
I well remember the first time I walked into this Chamber, in 2007, and Claire was the other side, there, to take the oath of office for newly elected Members. I didn’t realise the mosaic in front of us here—the Heart of Wales—was there; I just set my eyes on the clerk of the Assembly and walked straight across the mosaic, and sent the fear of God into the clerk. I was, at that stage, about 15.5 stone, so it didn’t crack; if I did walk across it now, it might cause a problem. But, from that day forth, I have come, over the 10 years, as my group has come, to appreciate the advice, the support, and the continuity of that support and advice that you’ve given us as a group, but to the Assembly as a whole. And the Assembly, in that 10 years, has grown in stature to be a Parliament, and a Parliament with legislative and, now, tax-raising responsibilities. And that is in no small part due to the contribution that you have made as the clerk of the Assembly and the chief adviser to the Presiding Officer. I do thank you for all the support you have given us. I do wish you well, and your family, in retirement. I hope it will not be the last time we see you and that you do come back, on many occasions, to see how we develop over the coming years. But, it has been a privilege and it has been a pleasure, and, on behalf of the Welsh Conservative group, I thank you most sincerely for all the time, effort and support you have given us all. Thank you. [Applause.]
Well, Llywydd, it’s always a pleasure to make a non-controversial speech that is going to command agreement around the Assembly, and to agree with everything that’s been said by all previous speakers so far today. I speak from a completely different perspective, as somebody who is wholly new to this institution, and, indeed, all my group members are in the same position. And we have been enormously the beneficiaries of the quiet efficiency of the clerk’s department, which you’ve presided over with such grace, charm, intelligence and ability. And, without the clerks in any parliamentary institution, of course, it would never be able to function properly. In fact, there are many outside who would probably say that it’s the only part that does function properly. And I’ve seen this, of course, at Westminster as well, where I think the permanent staff are a standing rebuke to all us elected members, in the way in which they conduct themselves and in which they perform their functions. And so, I would also like to thank you personally for all the help that you’ve given me in the year, now, that I’ve been a member of this place, and I’ve grown to appreciate how important you have been in the development of the Welsh Assembly, and your inheritance will, of course, survive you. We hope that you will have a long, happy and vigorous retirement, and that, as Andrew R.T. has just said, you will come back and visit us as often as you can. Thank you.
And the former Presiding Officer, Dafydd Elis-Thomas.
Thank you very much, Llywydd. Claire Clancy has filled the post of chief executive and clerk of the Assembly in a dignified and warm way. It is most appropriate for us to pay a worthy tribute to her today, as she has done more than achieve the commitments she made upon appointment, and that feels like yesterday to me, although it was 10 years ago. Through her service to this Assembly, she has also provided exemplary services to the people of Wales and to democracy. It’s no easy task to be chief executive of a democratic body, working with disparate and varied elected Members. Keeping the balance is quite a task in an institution that exists in order to represent different views and to hold the Executive to account. The greatest resource of any organisation is the character of the people who work within it. Claire’s greatest achievement was to focus on developing the talents all who work here, showing the same respect to all, whatever their role may have been. There is more than one way of providing and showing leadership, and, in my view, Claire’s leadership has been exemplary. Through all the changes that we’ve seen in the constitution of Wales and this Assembly since 2007, Claire has provided firm, balanced, true and person-centred leadership. I wish her a happy and contented retirement from this post that she undertook with such grace. I also hope that she will continue to contribute to public life in Wales and in the United Kingdom in some other way.
A word of gratitude from me to close. It has been a true pleasure for me, over the past 10 months, to collaborate with Claire as clerk, as chief executive and as Claire—the three in one. What springs immediately to mind when one thinks of Claire is her wisdom, her firm and friendly leadership of her staff, and her willingness to laugh. There is also her ambition for this Assembly, this Senedd, and her ambition for all who have been elected to serve the people of Wales in this place. In all the work that has been achieved by Claire, she did it all whilst upholding the highest possible standards of service in a public office. I am sure that that will be her legacy to us as she departs—that we should be wise, that we should be ambitious and innovative, and that we should do that in word and deed with the highest possible standards of public service to our nation and to secure the good reputation of this Senedd in perpetuity. So, best wishes to you, Claire, and I thank you on behalf of us all. [Applause.]