Spring was born in 1946 in Cape Town, South Africa where he attended Rondebosch Boys' High School and Cape Town University. As a young child he lived in the picturesque suburb of Fresnaye. He subsequently studied at the University of Cambridge. He married Hon. Jane Henniker-Major, daughter of John Henniker-Major, 8th Baron Henniker, in 1979. They divorced in 1993, having had two children.
He is a descendant of the Suffolk merchant Thomas Spring, known as The Rich Clothier, and the builder of the St Peter and St Paul's Church in Lavenham. In 1992 he became the sixth member of the Spring family to represent a Suffolk constituency in the House of Commons, although the first for over 300 years. Spring is also a descendant of George Grenville, the Whig statesman who served as British Prime Minister in the eighteenth century.
Members of the Spring family have been Parliamentarians for more than 600 years, both in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Lord Risby has more than 20 years' experience in the financial sector. Following his graduation from Cambridge University, Spring started his career in the City. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1971 and was appointed as vice-president in 1976, a position which he held until 1986. He has furthermore worked with E F Hutton, Lehman Brothers and Furman Selz.
Spring contested Ashton-under-Lyne at the 1983 general election. He was first elected as an MP at the 1992 General Election, representing Bury St Edmunds. Spring served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Sir Patrick Mayhew as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1994–95).
Spring resigned from this position in 1995, after News of the World published a story detailing a sex encounter he had allegedly been involved in. The publication of the story was attacked as an example of entrapment, and on the grounds that it served no public interest. News of the World columnist Woodrow Wyatt, writing in The Times, stated that "[t]hat anyone is entitled to privacy in their homes, in their cups or in their beds is a wholly alien concept to the News of the World. The News of the World has as good as asked for a privacy law. The Government and Opposition should no longer hesitate to produce it". Even the News of the World's proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, privately criticised the story as "over the top". Spring's resignation was seen as a blow to John Major's Back to Basics campaign.
Spring subsequently served as PPS to Tim Eggar as Minister for Trade and Industry (1995–96) and to Nicholas Soames and James Arbuthnot as Ministers of State at the Ministry of Defence (1996–97).
In 1997, Spring was elected as MP for West Suffolk. Between 1997 and 2000 he was Opposition spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport. He was Opposition Spokesman for Foreign Affairs between 2000 and 2004 and Shadow Minister for the Treasury between 2004 and 2005. On 23 November 2009, Spring announced that he would stand down at the 2010 general election.
He served as a Governor of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy from 2000 to 2009.
Between 2005 and 2010 he was a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party and Vice-Chairman of Conservative Business Relations as well. In 2005 he was appointed co-Chairman of Conservative City Circle and in 2007 he founded Conservative City Future, of which he is Patron with Sir John Major.
He was also Director of the British Syrian Society between 2003 and 2011, and featured on a 2012 Dispatches program on the Assad regime.
On 24 December 2010, Spring was created a life peer as Baron Risby of Haverhill in the County of Suffolk. Lord Risby sits as a Conservative in the House of Lords.
From 2011 to 2015, Risby was the Vice-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for East Asian Business. In November 2012, Lord Risby was announced as one of nine prime ministerial trade envoys, with responsibility for Algeria.
Lord Risby has been on the EU External Affairs Committee in the Lords since 2015.
In 1994, he chaired a parliamentary enquiry into the taxation of horseracing and led a campaign that ultimately helped to preserve much of the industry within the UK.
Lord Risby is currently the Chairman of the British Ukrainian Society, a post that he has held since 2007, as well as the secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ukraine. In 2013, he co-chaired the Scenarios for Ukraine programme for the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Risby has been a director of several businesses and organisations, including Hawkley Oil and Gas Ltd and Minexco Petroleum Inc, and is the president of the Association for Decentralised Energy. He is also the Deputy Chairman of the Small Business Bureau. In 2016, he was made a Government appointed director the Horserace Betting Levy Board.
He is a Patron of the London Magazine and of the Open Road charity and he additionally serves on the Advisory Board of Newsmax.
In 2007, he was nominated for a British Computer Society award for accessibility. In 2009, he was awarded the Parliamentary Award for Road Safety in recognition of his community campaigning.