Richard Harrington (politician)

Richard Harrington
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry & Energy
Assumed office
14 June 2017
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Theresa May
Sec. of State Greg Clark
Preceded by Jesse Norman
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Pensions
In office
17 July 2016  14 June 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May
Preceded by The Baroness Altmann (Minister of State)
Succeeded by Guy Opperman
Under Secretary of State for Syrian Refugees
In office
14 September 2015  17 July 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron
Theresa May
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Position abolished[1]
Member of Parliament
for Watford
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by Claire Ward
Majority 2,092 (3.6%)
Personal details
Born (1957-11-04) 4 November 1957
Leeds, England, UK
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Keble College, Oxford
Website Official website

Richard Irwin Harrington[2] MP (born 4 November 1957)[3] is a British Conservative Party politician, businessman, and former property developer and hotelier.[4] Since the 2010 general election he has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Watford. He has been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Pensions since 14 June 2017.

Early life

Harrington was born on 4 November 1957 in Leeds to a British Jewish family.[5] He was privately educated at Leeds Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford University, where he studied Jurisprudence. While at Oxford, he sat on the Executive Board of the Federation of Conservative Students and was a member of the National Union Executive of the Party.[6] He began his career in business with a graduate scheme at the John Lewis Partnership, where he eventually became the assistant to the managing director of Waitrose; this included a period working at Trewins Department Store in Watford.[6]


In 1983, he founded Harvington Properties, a property development company, with two friends from university. In 1990, Harrington became a shareholder and managing director of a company active in the development, sales and management of holiday resorts in both the UK and Europe. The company was sold to a listed American company at the end of the decade. Harrington stayed on as chairman until 2000. When he left, the company employed more than 2,000 people.[6] Other notable work in property development included the restoration of one of Glasgow’s most famous hotels, One Devonshire Gardens.[4][7]

Harrington supports a range of charities and has been a trustee of the Variety Club Children’s Society.[8] He is also trustee of several charities in Watford.[6]


Harrington is a long-time member of the Conservative Party, in which he has played an active part since 1983, and supporter of Kenneth Clarke.[9] Until March 2010 he was chairman of the Executive Board of the Conservative Friends of Israel, which, during his tenure, had quadrupled in size financially.[6] He was appointed a treasurer of the Conservative Party in 2008, the role in which he launched the Number 10 Club with Sir John Major.[10]

Harrington won the Watford constituency from Claire Ward at the 2010 general election with a majority of 1425. He was the first of the 2010 intake to make his maiden speech.[11][12]

Since his election, Harrington has also been elected as General Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group (until 2015), Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Film Industry Group, and a member of the International Development Select Committee between July 2010 - November 2012. He has run a number of successful community projects in Watford including six jobs fairs and a Community Exchange. His main areas of interest are cutting local unemployment, supporting business in the constituency and progressing the significant infrastructure projects in Watford including the redeveloping Watford Junction and the Watford Health Campus. In September 2012, Harrington was appointed as a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party. In the 2012/2013 Parliamentary Session, Harrington successfully brought in a Private Members Bill to criminalise the unlawful subletting of social housing property.

In May 2015, Harrington was re-elected as Watford's Member of Parliament, with a 9,794 majority, increasing the Conservative share of the vote by 8.5%. A month later, in June 2015, Harrington was appointed as the Prime Minister's apprenticeships' adviser. On 14 September 2015 Harrington was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for Syrian refugees, reporting primarily to the Home Secretary, Theresa May.[13]

Harrington was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in Theresa May's first government reshuffle on 17 July 2016, with his former position left vacant and effectively abolished.[14][15][1]

In the 2017 snap general election, Harrington was re-elected with a reduced majority of 2,092.[16] Harrington moved to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the subsequent cabinet reshuffle.

Having helped secure Government funding for the Croxley Rail Link[17] Harrington expressed frustration with Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, for not progressing the project in February 2018, despite Harrington securing an extra £73 million from the Government. He stated in the Watford Observer that: "It’s clear that the London Mayor was never serious about this", and was supported by the Conservative Minister for Transport in laying blame with Sadiq Khan. In response Labour representatives argued that central Government funding should be provided for a project that is located outside of London and that "a more balanced approach, seeking the Department for Transport and TFL to work closely together is what is needed".[18]

Alternative medicine

In June 2010 he supported and signed an early day motion in support of the continuation of National Health Service funding for homeopathy, the motion was sponsored by Conservative MP David Tredinnick.[19]

Personal life

Harrington was married in 1982 to Jessie and they separated in December 2013. They have 2 grown up sons.[20]


  1. 1 2 Walker, Peter (25 July 2016). "Theresa May's scrapping of minister for refugees 'utterly disgraceful'". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. "No. 61230". The London Gazette. 18 May 2015. p. 9122.
  3. "HARRINGTON, Richard : Who's Who". 1957-11-04. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  4. 1 2 Sheila Hamilton, "He's welcomed biggest stars on earth to Glasgow – now Stephen faces new challenge", Evening Times, Glasgow, 22 April 2006.
  5. Jessica Elgot. "New Jewish ministers and the Miliband rivalry". The Jewish Chronicle.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "Richard Harrington – Parliamentary Candidate for Watford". Conservative Party (UK). Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  7. "Share pair save hotel", Daily Mirror, London, 27 July 2002.
  8. Independent Auditors' Report to the Members, The Variety Club Children's Charity.
  9. Rebecca Paveley, "The Lost Voters Who Prefer Clarke", Daily Mail, London, 10 August 2001.
  10. "Donor Clubs". Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  11. "Parliamentary debates". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 25 May 2010. col. 80–82.
  12. "Richard Harrington, Mark Spencer and David Morris are the first of the 2010 Conservative intake to make their maiden speeches". Conservative Home. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  13. "Home Office Minister with responsibility for Syrian refugees appointed".
  14. "New ministerial and government appointments announced on July 17 2016". Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. 17 July 2016. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  15. "Theresa May criticised for scrapping Syrian refugees minister post held by Watford's MP". Watford Observer. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  16. "Conservatives hold on to Watford seat but see majority slashed from 10,000 to 2,000". Watford Observer. Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  17. "About Richard". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  18. "MP for Watford slams claims Mayor of London wanted Met Line Extension to go ahead". Watford Observer. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  19. Tredinnick, David (2010-06-29). "Early Day Motion #284 British Medical Association Motions on Homeopathy".
  20. "About Richard". Retrieved 2018-03-06.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Claire Ward
Member of Parliament
for Watford

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