|Member of Parliament
for Southend West
1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Paul Channon|
|Member of Parliament
9 June 1983 – 1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Harvey Proctor|
|Succeeded by||Angela Smith|
|Born||David Anthony Andrew Amess
26 March 1952
Plaistow, London, England
|Alma mater||Bournemouth University|
|Committees||Chairmen's Panel Committee (2001 - )
Health Committee (1998 - 2008)
|In Parliament||Activity · Votes|
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 is married to Julia Amess and together they have one son and four daughters. His eldest daughter is British actress Katie Amess.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Political career
- 2.1 Policy positions
- 2.2 Legislative success
- 2.3 Committee memberships
- 2.4 Deputy Speaker Elections
- 2.5 Raoul Wallenberg
- 2.6 Guide Dogs for the Blind
- 2.7 Mother – Maud Amess
- 2.8 Awards
- 2.9 Publications
- 2.10 Banarama Greatest Hits (1988)
- 2.11 Expenses
- 2.12 Brass Eye
- 3 References
- 4 External links
He was born in Plaistow, London to James and Maud Amess, and raised Roman Catholic. 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.
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.
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.
In 1997, Amess moved to represent 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.
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.
Amess is strongly anti-abortion. 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. Amess is a very active supporter and advocates for the People's Mujahedin of Iran.
Amess was one of thirty Conservatives who voted against military action in Syria in August 2012. 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.
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.
His two most notable achievements to date are the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act 1988, and the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act in 2000, both of which are on the statute book in his name.
Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988)
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”. 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
Perhaps Amess’ greatest legislative success thus far came in 2000, in the form of 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.
He then had a meeting with Mr Martyn Williams, a campaigner from Friends of the Earth, who convinced him of the need for the Act, which coincided with desires Amess had following his own upbringing, as well following on from the death of a constituent in a cold house.
The Act required the Secretary of State to “publish an implement a strategy for reducing fuel poverty”. This Act was widely credited with a significant change in both attitude and policy towards fuel poverty within the UK. 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.
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.
Health Select Committee
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. He has campaigned on various health issues since.
Whilst 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. 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, Amess maintains an interest in the issue, most recently tabling a series of Parliamentary Questions in July 2013.
Panel of Chairs
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. Amess was appointed most recently on the 26th 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.
Backbench Business Committee
Amess was elected onto the newly formed Backbench Business Committee in 2010; which is responsible for determining, on behalf of backbench members the business before the House for approximately one day each week.
In an article published in House magazine, Amess stated that he initially put his name forward “with some trepidation”, and was “somewhat cynical about the purpose of the committee and its powers.” He goes on to state that he has been “proved quite wrong.” Amess then outlines the power which the committee has – in that it has granted backbench debates which appear to have led to government ‘U turns’ – and also illustrates three things committee members look for when granting a debate: urgency, all-party support, and real debate.
Amess finishes by reminding readers that he is a strong supporter of the Adjournment debates held at the end of each Parliamentary session, which are granted by the Backbench Business Committee; Amess is famous in Westminster for attempting to mention a large number of topics in a short space of time during Adjournment Debates.
Deputy Speaker Elections
Amess stood for the vacant position of Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons on the 16th October, 2013.
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  regarding Wallenberg, and he held an Adjournment Debate in Wallenberg’s honour in 1996. Amess had previously attempted to push through a Raoul Wallenberg (Memorial) Bill in the 1989-90 session.
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
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. As a result of this, 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.
Mother – Maud Amess
Amess’ mother, Maud, is 101 and Amess is the only serving Conservative MP to have had a parent reach this particular milestone.
He has referenced his mother twice at Prime Ministers Questions, with both questions receiving a particularly warm response from the Prime Minister and the whole House.
Dods Charity Champion Awards 2011
At the Dods Charity Champion Awards 2011 Amess won the Animal Welfare and Environment Champion award 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.
Dods Outstanding Achievement 2012
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.
Grassroot Diplomat Award nomination 2014
He has also been been nominated for the Policy Driver for Animal Rights Protection award at the Grassroot Diplomat Awards 2014 for his longstanding dedication to animal rights.
Amess wrote a book about his re-election to the Basildon constituency in 1992 called 1992: Against All Odds! (2012) 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.
Banarama Greatest Hits (1988)
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.
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". He went as far as to ask 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", a real drug that is not covered by legislation or most anti-drug campaigns, either at the time of the question or since.
When Brass Eye was released on DVD in 2001, the "Drugs" episode ended with a brief disclaimer at Amess' request, acknowledging his complaint to the ITC and reiterating his disapproval of recreational drug use.
- "David Amess". TheyWorkforYou.com. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Kochan, Nicholas (23 October 2000). "How Ann fell out with Michael". New Statesman. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- BBC News - Vote 2001 - Results and Constituencies - Basildon
- The Public Whip: Voting Record - David Amess
- Mp, Conservative (16 October 2002). "David Amess". BBC News. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- *Voters call on MP Amess to explain expenses claims The Echo, 29 May 2009
- IMDB.com - Brass Eye: Drugs
- House of Commons Hansard - Written Answers 23 July 1996
- David Amess MP Official constituency website
- David Amess MP Conservative Party profile
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Electoral history and profile at The Guardian
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- David Amess profile at New Statesman
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Basildon
1983 – 1997
|Member of Parliament for Southend West