Richard was first elected as Member of Parliament for Watford in May 2010.
He has been re-elected twice since, with an increased number of votes each time.
In Richard’s time as Watford’s MP he achieved several things for the town:
He helped to secure a new franchise deal for the West Coast Main Line, which includes trains to London and the abbey line. He also pushed for four trains an hour on the overground and a new later running service on the Abbey Line. He is now campaigning for the complete redevelopment of Watford Junction, a better service on the Abbey Line and improvements at Bushey station.
Richard lobbied Ministers for 5 new wards at Watford General Hospital, as well as brand new Ambulatory Care Unit, Specialist Scanner and Alexander Birthing Suite . He also secured £7m to build a new road that will reduce ambulance attendance times. More recently, Watford General received £2.2m for their Emergency Department from the Department for Health. Richard is now campaigning for a partial redevelopment of the hospital and is working with NHS staff on that.
Richard has also been working with local GPs who, with government funding, are opening their surgeries on weekends, creating thousands of extra appointments in our area. This was recently expanded to Carpenders Park and Abbots Langley too.
Richard has been working with the Department for Education to get six new schools opened in Watford – the University Technical College Secondary School, Lanchester, Reach and Ascot Road Free Schools and St John’s Free School. Croxley Danes School also opened it's doors this year. Garston Manor’s facilities have been upgraded, with Westfield Academy and Frances Combe being entirely rebuilt. Many schools have expanded, creating in total over 3500 new school places.
Apprenticeships are now a real option for young people in our town, with 5000 starts since 2010.
In Watford, Richard has run eight successful Jobs Fairs attended by over 20000 people in total helping hundreds of people to get a job on the day. Unemployment has halved in the 8 years that Richard has been the MP. He established the Community Exchange for our local charities to network and runs a Reading Challenge/ Art Competition each year for primary schools.
In Parliament, Richard was a member of the International Development Select Committee, General Secretary of the All Party Kashmir Group and Vice Chairman of the All Party Film Group. He has hosted thousands of local people to visit Parliament and invites a different Watford school each week. In 2013 Richard successfully got a new law passed which criminalises the unlawful subletting of social housing – in Watford this has already led to more properties being available to local families.
In September 2015, Richard was appointed Minister for Syrian Refugees jointly at the Home Office, Department for International Development and Department for Communities and Local Government where he will be responsible for working across government to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees in the UK who are fleeing persecution in the Middle East.
In July 2016, Richard was appointed Minister for Pensions by new Prime Minister, Theresa May, working at the Department for Work and Pensions.
After being re-elected in the 2017 election, Richard was appointed the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. His responsibilities include industrial strategy and industrial strategy delivery, sector deals, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and materials, including steel, automotive, nuclear, infrastructure and construction. His portfolio also covers professional services, rail supply chain, defence, maritime, pubs code policy and supply chains.
Richard was born in 1957, eldest son to his parents who ran market stalls in Leeds. He worked with them on weekends and over the holidays from the age of 10.
He attended Leeds Grammar school and was awarded a scholarship to Oxford University, studying law at Keble College.
Richard was married in 1982 and they separated in December 2013. They have 2 grown up sons.
When he came down from Oxford, Richard moved to Watford to join his parents who had moved there and worked in the Trewins Department store (now John Lewis) for three years. He then started a business with two friends which at its peak employed 2000 people.