Lord Toby Harris
Lord Toby Harris, Lord Harris of Haringey, was made a Life Peer in June 1998 and has been Chair of the Labour Peers since 2012. He is a member of the Select Committee on Life Beyond Covid and was a member of the Committee on Democracy and Digital Technologies, which reported in summer 2020. He was a member (latterly Vice Chair) of the Joint Committee on National Security for most of the last decade. In 2013, he chaired the House of Lords Committee on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy. He was also a member of the House of Lords Select Committee that reported on Personal Internet Security in 2007. He is Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Policing and an Officer of the Parliamentary Internet and Communications Technology Forum.
Outside Parliament, he chairs the National Preparedness Commission, whose mission is to promote better preparedness for a major crisis or incident, and is President of the Institute of Strategic Risk Management. He has also been Chair of National Trading Standards – which is responsible for delivering national and cross-boundary consumer protection enforcement activity – since May 2013, and Chair of the Fundraising Regulator (overseeing charitable fundraising) since January 2019. In addition, he chairs the Independent Advisory Group on Ethics for the National Crime Agency. In 2016, he conducted an Independent Review for the Mayor of London on London’s Preparedness to Respond to a Major Terrorist Incident.
At the request of the Minister for Prisons, he led an Independent Review on the Deaths of Young People in Prison Custody. The report, The Harris Review: Changing Prisons, Saving Lives, was published in July 2015 and was the most substantial review of penal policy for nearly thirty years. He was also Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody that reported to the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department of Health from 2009 to 2015.
He was born in 1953 and graduated from Cambridge University in 1975, having studied Natural Sciences and Economics and where he was President of the Cambridge Union. His professional career began with four years in the Economics Division of the Bank of England. He then spent seven years at the Electricity Consumers’ Council, becoming Deputy Director in 1983. In 1987, he became Director of the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales (the national statutory body representing patients’ interests). He remained there until October 1998, when he established his own public affairs consultancy, Toby Harris Associates, which has advised a number of major public and private sector bodies. He was until recently a non-executive director of Cybersecurity Challenge UK.
He was a member of the London Assembly from May 2000 to June 2004, on which he led the Labour Group and he was the first Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA). He continued to sit on the MPA from 2004 until 2012, as the representative of the Home Secretary with a remit to oversee the national and international functions of the Metropolitan Police – primarily its role in counterterrorism and security. He also oversaw their risk management and audit, and was the interim chair of the Audit Panel for the Metropolitan Police Service and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
He was a member of Haringey Council from 1978 to 2002 and was its Leader from 1987 to 1999, having previously spent five years as Chair of Social Services. He was Chair of the Association of London Government (now London Councils), representing the 33 local authorities in London, from its formation in 1995 until 2000, and is now one of its Joint Presidents. He previously chaired the Association of London Authorities.
From 1986 to 1993, he was Chair of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities’ Social Services Committee and led for local government in negotiations about the introduction of Community Care and the Children Act. He was also a member of the Executive, and later a Vice President, of the Local Government Association for a number of years. He was also a member of the Executive of the Association of Police Authorities from 2000 to 2006 and was a Vice President from 2006 until 2012.
He chaired the Wembley National Stadium Trust from 1996 to 2018 and the Freedom Charity from 2009 to 2015. He was the first Chair of the Institute of Commissioning Professionals, has been a non-executive director of the London Ambulance Service, a Senior Associate of the Kings Fund, and a member of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants. He is a former member of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union.