Herbert Laming, Baron Laming

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The Lord Laming
Official portrait of Lord Laming 2020 crop 2.jpg
Laming in 2020
Chairman of Committees
In office
7 September 2015 – 31 August 2016
Lord SpeakerThe Baroness D'Souza
Preceded byThe Lord Sewel
Succeeded byThe Lord McFall of Alcluith (as Senior Deputy Speaker)
Convenor of the Crossbench Peers
In office
5 September 2011 – 7 September 2015
Preceded byThe Baroness D'Souza
Succeeded byThe Lord Hope of Craighead
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
Assumed office
27 July 1998
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born (1936-07-19) 19 July 1936 (age 86)
Newcastle upon Tyne
Political partyCrossbench
Other political
Non-affiliated (2015–2016)
CommitteesProcedure Committee (2011–present)
Selection (2011–present)
Privileges (2011–present)
House (2011–present)
Liaison (2011–present)
Administration and Works (2011–present)[1]

William Herbert Laming, Baron Laming, CBE, PC (born 19 July 1936) is a British social worker and member of the House of Lords. He served as Convenor of the Crossbench Peers from 2011 to 2015 and as Chairman of Committees from 2015 to 2016.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Laming studied Applied Social Studies at Durham University in 1960.[3]

Social work[edit]

Laming worked as a probation officer[3] and psychiatric social worker in Nottingham, before moving to Hertfordshire County Council in 1971, becoming director of social services in 1975.

In 1990, his department was strongly criticised for its handling of a case that centred on allegations made to Hertfordshire social services by the father of a young girl who was concerned that his daughter was being sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend. The child was interviewed in front of her mother, a violation of official guidelines. Police and social services performed an overnight raid on his house and took his daughter to her mother and her mother's boyfriend. Laming denied him access to an internal inquiry report. In 1995, the Local Government Ombudsman made a finding of 'maladministration with injustice' against the department.[4]

Laming was chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate from 1991 until 1998. He has worked as an advisor to the Local Government Association, and is a past President of the Association of Directors of Social Services.[5] He is involved with many social services organisations.

In 1985, Laming was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[6] He was knighted in 1996[7] and was created a life peer on 27 July 1998 as Baron Laming, of Tewin in the county of Hertfordshire.[8] In 1999, he was given an honorary Doctor of Science by his old university, Durham.[9]

In 2000, he was appointed head of the Harold Shipman inquiry, originally a private inquiry. However, relatives of Shipman's victims wanted a public inquiry, and they won a judicial review, forcing the inquiry to become public. Dame Janet Smith replaced Laming as the chairman.[10][11] In the same year, he also investigated management in the prison service.[12]

In 2001, he chaired the public inquiry into eight-year-old Victoria Climbié's death. Laming's appointment was controversial because of his previous post as head of Hertfordshire county council's social services department. The father of the daughter in the Hertfordshire case said, "I don't see how he has the qualifications or experience to be able to lead an investigation into another borough which has been failing to protect a child in exactly the same manner that his own authority failed to protect a child in 1990".[4] Liberal Democrat spokesman Paul Burstow said, "the findings of the ombudsman in the Hertfordshire case must give rise to questions about Lord Laming's appointment to head this inquiry"; and Conservative Party spokesman Liam Fox said, "I think the government maybe should have thought twice about this and maybe, even yet, they will think again". The Department for Health, however, said that they were "fully confident that he is the right person to conduct the inquiry".[13] His final report was published on 28 February 2003,[14][15] and led to many child protection reforms. The report led to the formation of the Every Child Matters programme, a framework to improve the lives of children; the introduction of the Children Act 2004, an Act of Parliament that provides the legislative base for many of the reforms; the creation of ContactPoint, a database that will hold information on all children in England and Wales; and the creation of the post of children's commissioner, to co-ordinate efforts to improve child protection.

Lord Laming was appointed in November 2008 to investigate Britain's social services on a national basis following the death of Baby P.[16] The subject caused heated arguments in the House of Commons between Gordon Brown and David Cameron forcing the Commons Speaker to intervene on a number of occasions to restore order.

In June 2011, Lord Laming was elected Convenor of the Crossbench Peers in the House of Lords, which office he left in September 2015, when he became the Chairman of Committees. He became a member of the Privy Council in June 2014.[17]


Laming feels the quality of training for social workers needs to be reviewed, Laming also criticised cuts to funding for social services. Laming said, “The marked reduction in funding of local authorities in the last 10 years has had a real withdrawal from frontline services, and it’s become something of a crisis service, rather than a preventative service. The whole organisation ought to focus on the frontline, on what’s happening to children, and making sure they intervene earlier rather than later and when it’s too late,”[18]


  1. ^ "Baroness D'Souza". UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 18 June 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
  2. ^ Lord Laming. UK Parliament
  3. ^ a b "Lord Laming: Renowned Social Worker". Telegraph. 12 March 2009. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b Verkaik, Robert, "Head of Anna Climbie inquiry ran department that failed to protect", The Independent (via findarticles.com), 20 January 2001. Retrieved on 3 July 2007.
  5. ^ "Laming inquiry team announced", Department of Health, 10 March 2000. Retrieved on 3 July 2007.
  6. ^ "No. 50154". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 1985. p. 8.
  7. ^ "No. 54663". The London Gazette. 28 January 1997. p. 1095.
  8. ^ "No. 55213". The London Gazette. 3 August 1998. p. 8430.
  9. ^ "Honorary degrees for six – but Dr Mowlam has to postpone Archived 24 January 2005 at the Wayback Machine", Durham University, 28 June 1999. Retrieved on 3 July 2007.
  10. ^ Background to the Inquiry Archived 8 August 2009 at the UK Government Web Archive, The Harold Shipman Inquiry. Retrieved on 3 July 2007.
  11. ^ Herbert, Ian, "Shipman inquiry will be in public, Milburn accepts", The Independent (via findarticles.com), 22 September 2000, Retrieved on 3 July 2007.
  12. ^ Lord Laming (2000). "Modernising the Management of the Prison Service: An Independent Report by the Targeted Performance Initiative Working Group" (PDF). Retrieved 3 July 2007. (2.79 MiB)
  13. ^ "Climbié inquiry chief under fire", The Guardian, 19 January 2001. Retrieved on 3 July 2007.
  14. ^ "Victoria Climbié Report Calls for Radical Change in the Management of Public Services for Children and Families" Archived 25 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, 28 January 2003
  15. ^ "Report of an Inquiry" (PDF). The Victoria Climbié Inquiry. 28 January 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2006. (1.74 MiB)
  16. ^ "Men Found Guilty in Baby's Death". BBC News. 11 November 2008.
  17. ^ "Privy Council appointment: Lord Laming". HM Government. 17 June 2014.
  18. ^ Don’t be fooled by deceitful parents, top child expert warns social workers The Guardian

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Convenor of the Crossbench Peers
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords
Succeeded byas Senior Deputy Speaker
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by Gentlemen
Baron Laming
Followed by
The Lord Bach