David Amess

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Sir David Amess
David Amess MP in Office.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Southend West
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Paul Channon
Majority 7,270 (16.7%)
Member of Parliament
for Basildon
In office
9 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by Harvey Proctor
Succeeded by Angela Smith
Personal details
Born David Anthony Andrew Amess
(1952-03-26) 26 March 1952 (age 63)
Plaistow, Essex, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Julia Arnold; 5 children
Alma mater Bournemouth University
Committees Chairmen's Panel Committee (2001-present)[1]
Health Committee (1998-2008)
Religion Roman Catholic[2]
In Parliament Activity  · Votes
Website www.davidamess.co.uk

Sir David Anthony Andrew Amess (born 26 March 1952) is a British Conservative Party politician. He has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1983, first for Basildon, and since 1997 for Southend West. He and his wife Julia have one son and four daughters. Their eldest daughter is actress Katie Amess.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Plaistow, London to James and Maud Amess, and raised Roman Catholic. Amess’ mother turned 102 in May 2014,[3] and Amess asked a Prime Minister’s Question[4] on the First World War where he mentioned her birthday to mark the occasion.

He attended St Anthony's Junior and Infant School, then St. Bonaventure Grammar School (now St Bonaventure's Catholic Comprehensive School) on Boleyn Road in Forest Gate and then Bournemouth College of Technology, where he earned a BSc degree with honours in Economics and Government.[5] Amess taught at the St John the Baptist Primary School in Bethnal Green for a year (1970–71), and then spent a short time as an underwriter before becoming a recruitment consultant.[5]

Political career[edit]

He contested the safe Labour Party seat of Newham North West at the 1979 General Election, and the seat was retained by Labour's MP Arthur Lewis. In 1982, Amess was elected as a councillor to the London Borough of Redbridge.

The sitting Conservative MP for Basildon, Harvey Proctor, moved to Billericay in the 1983 General Election, and Amess won the nomination to fight the Basildon seat. He was elected as the Member of Parliament for Basildon on 9 June 1983.[citation needed]

Amess continued to serve both as an MP and a local councillor until 1986, when he stood down from Redbridge Borough Council to concentrate on his Westminster seat. He held his Basildon seat narrowly at the 1987 General Election, in part by developing a significant personal following. During the 1987 campaign, the constituency was visited by future Prime Minister John Major. Following the election Amess was appointed a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Portillo, a position he held for ten years throughout Portillo's ministerial career. Amess held his seat again at the 1992 General Election, which was the first but vital sign that the Conservatives would unexpectedly win the 1992 election; the Basildon constituency was viewed as the make-or-break milestone.[6]

In 1997, Amess performed the "chicken run" to Southend West in Essex after the retirement of former Cabinet minister Paul Channon. Amess received the nomination and was returned to Westminster again, in the wake of the landslide Labour victory. The newly-redrawn constituency of Basildon was won by Labour candidate Angela Smith.

Policy positions[edit]

Amess normally adheres to Conservative party policy when voting in the Commons,[7] however he is very strongly in favour of the ban on fox-hunting. He voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq but has since been critical of the Labour government's failure to find the weapons of mass destruction with which they justified the action at the time. On foreign policy he is also a leading member of Conservative Friends of Israel. He is one of the few Conservative MPs to support the impeach Blair campaign and is strongly against Labour's proposed anti-terror laws and the erosion of civil liberties.[citation needed]

Amess is strongly pro-life.[8] In June 2005 Amess supported the Prohibition of Abortion (England and Wales) Bill introduced by Laurence Robertson that sought to almost entirely ban abortion. However he is also in favour of a return to capital punishment.[8] He is a supporter and advocates for the People's Mujahedin of Iran.[9]

Amess was one of thirty Conservatives who voted against military action in Syria in August 2013. He later commented that he felt the way he and his colleagues voted made a difference and if he had previously voted against the war in Iraq things might been different in that situation as well.[10] Since 2014, Amess has been leading a campaign for fairer funding for grammar schools. He raised this issue in parliamentary debates and questions, and contacted the Secretary of State to ask for the funding discrepancy to be addressed.

Legislative success[edit]

Amess has had a great deal of legislative success during his 30 years in Parliament. He has sponsored: the Horses and Ponies Bill in 1984-5; the Members of Parliament (Minimum Age) Bill 1984-85; the Abortion (Right of Conscience) (Amendment) Bill 1988-89; the British Nationality (Hon. Citizenship) Bill 1988-89; the Adoption (Amendment) Bill 1989-90; the Dogs Bill 1989-90; the Pet Animals (Amendment) Bill 1990-91; the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988; the Human Fertilisation (Choice) Bill 1992-93; the Voluntary Personal Security Cards Bill 1992-93; the Football Matches (Violent and Disorderly Conduct) Bill 1992-93; the Newly Qualified Drivers Bill 1993-94; the Coercion in Family Planning (Prohibition) Bill 1994-95; the Freezing of Human Embyros Bill 1995-96; the Abortion (Amendment) Bill 1996-97; the Reform of Quarantine Regulations Bill 1997-98; and the Voluntary Personal Security Cards Bill 1997-98.[11]

Two of his most notable achievements to date are the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988),[12] and the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act (2000),[13] both of which are on the statute book in his name.

Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988)[edit]

The Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act came about as a result of Amess' long-standing concern for animal welfare, supported by the National Farmers Union. Amess stated in the House of Commons that the Ten Minute Rule Bill was, “inspired by the Essex Horse and Pony Protection Society”.[14] The bill stated:

“In section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 there shall be added in subsection (1) the following words after paragraph (e) “or (f) shall tether any horse, ass or mule under such conditions or in such manner as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering;”

Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000[edit]

Amess' most publicized legislative success came in 2000 with the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act. According to a speech in the House of Commons made by Amess, the Act came to fruition after he was drawn out of the Private Members Ballot.[15] He met with Martyn Williams, a campaigner from Friends of the Earth, who convinced him of the need for the Act following on from the death of a constituent in a cold house.[15]

The Act required the Secretary of State to “publish and implement a strategy for reducing fuel poverty”.[16] This Act was widely credited with a significant change in both attitude and policy towards fuel poverty within the UK.[17] The scale of fuel poverty in England fell from 5.1 million households to 1.2 million households between 1996 and 2004, indicating the impact of the Act.[17]

Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill[edit]

Amess introduced the Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill to the House of Commons on the 10th of September 2014. The Bill enjoyed an unopposed passage through the House of Commons. The Bill proposed by Sir David Amess MP will create a new offence of knowingly providing specialist printing equipment to individuals or groups that can use the equipment for criminal purposes. The Bill is supported by Metropolitan Police who, in partnership with the printing industry, designed Project Genesius to reduce the access of criminals to the equipment and supplies they require to produce false documents.

The Bill was led through the House of Lords by Baroness Berridge and is expected to receive Royal Assent on the 26th of March 2015.

Committee memberships[edit]

Amess has served on various committees and All-Party Groups during his 30 years in Parliament, with the most prominent being the Health Select Committee, the Backbench Business Committee and the Panel of Chairs.[citation needed]

Health Select Committee[edit]

Amess served on the Health Select Committee from 1998 until 2007. Due to his role on the Health Select Committee, Amess became one of the most prominent Conservative spokesmen on Health issues, be becoming Chair of the Conservative Party Backbench Committee for Health in 1999.[18] He has campaigned on various health issues since. While a member of the committee, Amess played a prominent role holding an inquiry into the state of obesity in the UK, leading to the publication of a report in 2004.[19] The report found that two-thirds of the population of England are overweight or obese and went on to discuss the causes of obesity, as well as making various recommendations to combat the problem. To this day, he maintains an interest in the issue, most recently tabling a series of Parliamentary Questions in July 2013.[20]

Panel of Chairs[edit]

Amess is also a member of the Panel of Chairs, which comprises the Chairman and two deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means, as well as ten Members nominated at the start of each session by the Speaker of the House of Commons.[21] Amess was appointed most recently on 26 May 2010, but has been on the panel since 2001. As a member of the panel, Amess is responsible for chairing Public Bill Committees; chairing Westminster Hall debates; and at times, for chairing Committees of the whole House.[22]

Backbench Business Committee[edit]

Amess for Horticulture Week

Amess was elected onto the newly formed Backbench Business Committee in 2010.[23]

Raoul Wallenberg[edit]

Amess campaigned for a many years to have a statue erected in honour of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary; an endeavor for which Wallenberg eventually lost his life. Amess began asking Parliamentary Questions in the late 1980s [24] regarding Wallenberg, and he held an Adjournment Debate in Wallenberg’s honour in 1996.[25] Amess had previously attempted to push through a Raoul Wallenberg (Memorial) Bill in the 1989-90 session.[26] A memorial was eventually installed in London, at Great Cumberland Place, outside the Western Marble Arch Synagogue. Both Queen Elizabeth II and Charles, Prince of Wales have since visited the memorial.

Guide Dogs for the Blind[edit]

In February 2014, Amess took part in a blindfolded walk with a guide dog across Leigh-on-Sea for Guide Dogs for the Blind in order to experience first-hand what it is like to be a blind or partially sighted pedestrian.[27] As a result, Amess asked a question to the Prime Minister on this issue where he spoke of his experience on the walk and asked the Prime Minister to consider Guide Dogs for the Blind's recommendations on shared surface streets.[28]

Industry and Parliament Trust[edit]

Amess became a Fellow of the IPT in 1994. Amess completed an IPT Post-Graduate Fellowship I in 2012 specialising in the Cultural and Creative Industries, at Brit School, ITN and the Royal Opera House. Amess became Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 2014.[29]


Amess was knighted in the 2015 New Year Honours for political and public service.[30][31]

Dods Charity Champion Awards 2011[edit]

At the Dods Charity Champion Awards 2011 Amess won the Animal Welfare and Environment Champion award[32] where he was recognised formally for his leading role in and commitment to animal welfare and was presented with the aware by The Right Honourable John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, in the State Rooms of the Speaker's House. The award is given to the Parliamentarian who has done the most to tackle issues concerning the welfare of animals and the natural environment.[32]

Dods Outstanding Achievement 2012[edit]

Amess received the "Outstanding Achievement Award" at the Charity Champion Parliamentary reception hosted by Dods in 2012 in recognition for his lifetime commitment to charitable work.[33]

Grassroot Diplomat Award nomination 2014[edit]

Amess has been nominated for the Policy Driver for Animal Rights Protection award at the Grassroot Diplomat Awards 2014 for his longstanding dedication to animal rights.[34]


Amess wrote a book about his re-election to the Basildon constituency in 1992 called 1992: Against All Odds! (2012)[35] It was launched in the House of Commons at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the election and was attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Conservative Party activists.[36]

Amess compiled a pamphlet entitled “Party of Opportunity” with the Renewal Group, which contained thirteen short biographical accounts of Conservative Members of Parliament who identify as working class or who come from a working-class background. The pamphlet, which was launched in the House of Commons in April 2014,[37] included contributions from 4 Government Ministers, including Sajid Javid, Mark Francois, Patrick McLoughlin, and Mike Penning.[38] The second edition of the “Party of Opportunity” was launched in January 2015, and included contributions from 29 Conservative MPs.

Bananarama Greatest Hits (1988)[edit]

Appearing with various others MPs in the advert for the Bananarama Greatest Hits CD (1988), Amess can be seen hand-dancing in the back of a taxi with Norman St John Stevas.[39]


Amess faced criticism from voters in his Southend West constituency after his expense claims were revealed. Amess claimed £400 a week for food, and money for a second home in London despite his constituency being in commutable distance. He has since failed to answer calls from his local newspaper the Evening Echo, after he was confronted on his expenses whilst out canvassing, seeking refuge in a local hairdresser's while avoiding the press.[40]

Brass Eye[edit]

Amess infamously appeared in the "Drugs" episode of the spoof current affairs television programme Brass Eye, and was fooled into filming an elaborate warning against the dangers of a fictional Eastern European drug called "cake".[41]

He asked a question about "cake" in Parliament, alongside real substances khat and GHB. In response the Home Office minister replied that "cake" was a name "we understand refers to 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-benzylamphetamine",[42] a real drug that is not covered by legislation or most anti-drug campaigns, either at the time of the question or since.


  1. ^ "David Amess profile at". TheyWorkforYou.com. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  2. ^ Kochan, Nicholas (23 October 2000). "How Ann fell out with Michael". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  3. ^ http://www.davidamess.co.uk/news/maud-amess-celebrates-her-102nd-birthday-family-friends-and-staffnazareth-house
  4. ^ Video on YouTube
  5. ^ a b http://www.davidamess.co.uk/about-david
  6. ^ BBC News - Vote 2001 - Results and Constituencies - Basildon, bbc.co.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  7. ^ The Public Whip: Voting Record - David Amess
  8. ^ a b Mp, Conservative (16 October 2002). "David Amess". BBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  9. ^ People's Mujahedin of Iran website; accessed 10 May 2014.
  10. ^ August 2012 vote on action in Syria, publications.parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  11. ^ "BBC profile of David Amess". BBC News. 
  12. ^ Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act, 1988
  13. ^ Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act, 2000
  14. ^ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1991/may/23/active-citizenship#S6CV0191P0_19910523_HOC_47
  15. ^ a b Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, hansard.millbanksystems.com; accessed 10 May 2014.
  16. ^ “publish an implement a strategy for reducing fuel poverty”, legislation.gov.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  17. ^ a b JRF website; accessed 10 May 2014.
  18. ^ Profile, southendwestconservatives.com; accessed 10 May 2014.
  19. ^ Report on UK obesity absed on Amess inquiry, publications.parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  20. ^ Parliamentary Questions on Obesity by Amess, publications.parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  21. ^ Panel of Chairs, parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  22. ^ Amess membership in Panel of Chairs, parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  23. ^ Reference A; accessed 10 May 2014.
  24. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm198889/cmhansrd/1989-01-27/Writtens-2.html
  25. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199596/cmhansrd/vo960226/debtext/60226-33.htm
  26. ^ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1990/jan/08/raoul-wallenberg-memorial
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140212/debtext/140212-0001.htm#140212-0001.htm_wqn27
  29. ^ http://www.ipt.org.uk/presidents-and-board-of-trustees.aspx
  30. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61092. p. N2. 31 December 2014.
  31. ^ 2015 New Year Honours List
  32. ^ a b http://www.wspa.org.uk/latestnews/2011/David_Amess_MP.aspx
  33. ^ Amess receives Dods Outstanding Achievement Award; accessed 10 May 2014.
  34. ^ Grassroot Diplomat Awards website; accessed 10 September 2014.
  35. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120509/debtext/120509-0002.htm
  36. ^ http://www.davidamess.co.uk/news/celebration-remember
  37. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/10753305/Conservatives-are-home-of-theworkers.html
  38. ^ http://www.renewalgroup.org.uk/Party%20of%20opportunity%20v0.1.pdf
  39. ^ Video on YouTube
  40. ^ *"Voters call on MP Amess to explain expenses claims", echo-news.co.uk; 29 May 2009.
  41. ^ IMDB.com - Brass Eye: Drugs
  42. ^ House of Commons Hansard - Written Answers 23 July 1996

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harvey Proctor
Member of Parliament for Basildon
Succeeded by
Angela Smith
Preceded by
Paul Channon
Member of Parliament for Southend West