David Amess

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Sir David Amess
MP
Official portrait of Sir David Amess crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Southend West
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded by Paul Channon
Majority 10,000 (20.6%)
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 65)
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)
Administration Committee (2015–present)
In Parliament Activity  · Votes
Website davidamess.co.uk
parliament..david-amess

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.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Plaistow, then in Essex (now East London) to James and Maud Amess, and raised Roman Catholic.[2] Amess' mother turned 104 in May 2016.[3]

Amess attended St Anthony's Junior and Infant School, then St. Bonaventure Grammar School (now St Bonaventure's Catholic 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.[4] 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.[4]

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 incumbent Conservative MP for Basildon, Harvey Proctor, moved to Billericay in the 1983 General Election, and Amess was selected to contest the Basildon seat, being elected to 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. After 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.[5]

In 1997, Amess was selected for Southend West in Essex after the retirement of former Cabinet minister Paul Channon and was returned to Westminster again. Amess doubled his majority in Southend West at the 2015 General Election, and was re-elected comfortably in the 2017 equivalent.

Involvement in legislation[edit]

Amess has sponsored many parliamentary bills.[6] Two of his most significant achievements are the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988),[7] and the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act (2000),[8] both of which are on the statute book in his name. In 2014, he successfully piloted the Security Printing (Specialist) Materials Bill onto the Statute Book. This Bill ended a loophole which allowed companies who supplied specialist printing equipment to counterfeiters to evade prosecution.

In 2016, he successfully steered a piece of legislation onto the statute book, this time the Driving Instructors (Registration) Bill. This Bill streamlines the process whereby instructors whose registration has lapsed can apply to return to the register. It also allows instructors who wish to leave the register for personal reasons to do so without being penalised. The Bill was supported by driving school owners and motoring organisations.

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".[9] 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 publicised 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.[10] 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.[10]

The Act required the Secretary of State to "publish and implement a strategy for reducing fuel poverty".[11] This Act was widely credited with a significant change in both attitude and policy towards fuel poverty within the UK.[12] 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.[12]

Health Select Committee[edit]

Amess served on the Health Select Committee from 1998 until 2007. Due to his role on the Health Select Committee, he became Chair of the Conservative Party Backbench Committee for Health in 1999.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

Administration Committee[edit]

Sir David became a member of the Administration Committee in 2015. This committee is responsible for overseing the running of the Parliamentary Estate and services.

Backbench Business Committee[edit]

Amess for Horticulture Week

Amess was elected onto the newly formed Backbench Business Committee in 2010, he stood down in 2015.[18]

Raoul Wallenberg[edit]

Amess campaigned for 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 endeavour for which Wallenberg eventually lost his life. Amess began asking Parliamentary Questions in the late 1980s[19] regarding Wallenberg, and he held an Adjournment Debate in Wallenberg's honour in 1996.[20] Amess had previously attempted to push through a Raoul Wallenberg (Memorial) Bill in the 1989–90 session.[21] 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.

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.[22]

Publications[edit]

Amess wrote a book about his re-election to the Basildon constituency in 1992 called 1992: Against All Odds! (2012)[23] 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.[24]

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,[25] included contributions from 4 Government Ministers, including Sajid Javid, Mark Francois, Patrick McLoughlin, and Mike Penning.[26] The second edition of the "Party of Opportunity" was launched in January 2015, sponsored by The Association of Conservative Clubs and included contributions from 29 Conservative MPs.

Political views[edit]

Amess normally adheres to Conservative party policy when voting in the Commons,[27] but 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 was one of the few Conservative MPs to support the impeach Blair campaign and is strongly against Labour's proposed anti-terror laws and the alleged erosion of civil liberties.[citation needed]

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 have been different in that situation as well.[28] 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.

Amess has consistently voted against LGBT equality since 1999, with 20 votes against and 6 non appearances in that time.[29] He is also in favour of a return to capital punishment.[30] He is a supporter and advocate for the People's Mujahedin of Iran.[31]

Abortion[edit]

Amess is strongly pro-life.[30] In June 2005, Amess supported the Prohibition of Abortion (England and Wales) Bill introduced by Laurence Robertson that sought to almost entirely ban abortion.

Environment[edit]

In November 2010, Amess attended a parliamentary reception to support and celebrate the Young People's Trust for the Environment.[32]

European Union[edit]

Amess is a staunch Eurosceptic, coming out in support of Brexit ahead of the EU referendum,[33][34] in which he claimed it was "dangerous" and a "huge mistake" to vote 'remain'. He has described a "loss of Parliamentary sovereignty" as the main negative of UK-EU relations.[35] Amess criticised US President Barack Obama's perceived intervention in the EU referendum campaign, stating that he had "absolutely no right whatsover getting involved".[36]

Awards[edit]

Amess was knighted in the 2015 New Year Honours for political and public service. He is a member of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.[37]

At the Dods Charity Champion Awards 2011 Amess won the Animal Welfare and Environment Champion award[38] 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.[38]

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.[39]

Amess was nominated for the Policy Driver for Animal Rights Protection award at the Grassroot Diplomat Awards 2014 for his longstanding dedication to animal rights.[40]

Controversies[edit]

Comments about Harvey Weinstein scandal[edit]

In October 2017, following the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations, a statement was issued in the name of Amess which described the allegations against Weinstein as "dubious to say the least" and directly quoted Amess as having said that the "sudden flurry of alleged inappropriate advances beggars belief". Amess later retracted the statement and apologised "for any upset", claiming the statement had been issued by his staff without his authorisation.[41]

Brass Eye[edit]

Amess 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".[42]

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",[43] a real drug that is not covered by legislation or most anti-drug campaigns, either at the time of the question or since. In 2001, when Brass Eye was repeated and released on DVD, a disclaimer was added to the "Drugs" episode at Amess' request reiterating his disapproval of recreational drug use.

Personal life[edit]

He and his wife Julia have one son and four daughters. Julia is a part-time caseworker for her husband.[44] Their eldest daughter is actress Katie Amess.

References[edit]

  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. London. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  3. ^ "News". David Amess. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Profile". David Amess. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  5. ^ BBC News – Vote 2001 – Results and Constituencies – Basildon, Bbc.co.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  6. ^ "BBC profile of David Amess". BBC News. 
  7. ^ "Protection against Cruel Tethering Act 1988". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  8. ^ "Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  9. ^ "Active Citizenship (Hansard, 23 May 1991)". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 23 May 1991. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, Hansard.millbanksystems.com; accessed 10 May 2014.
  11. ^ “publish an implement a strategy for reducing fuel poverty”, Legislation.gov.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  12. ^ a b JRF website; accessed 10 May 2014.
  13. ^ "David Amess MP". southendwestconservatives.com. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  14. ^ Report on UK obesity absed on Amess inquiry, Publications.parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  15. ^ Parliamentary Questions on Obesity by Amess, Publications.parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  16. ^ Panel of Chairs, Parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  17. ^ Amess membership in Panel of Chairs, Parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Backbench Business Committee". Davidamess.co.uk. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 27 Jan 1989". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 26 Feb 1996 (pt 33)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  21. ^ "RAOUL WALLENBERG (MEMORIAL) (Hansard, 8 January 1990)". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 8 January 1990. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Presidents and Board of Trustees". Ipt.org.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. [permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 09 May 2012 (pt 0002)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "A Celebration to Remember!!". David Amess. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Graham, Georgia (9 April 2014). "Conservatives are home of the workers". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  26. ^ Amess, David; Major, John; Skelton, David. "The Party of Opportunity" (PDF). renewalgroup.org.uk. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 June 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  27. ^ "Voting Record – David Amess MP, Southend West (10009) – The Public Whip". Publicwhip.org.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  28. ^ August 2012 vote on action in Syria, Publications.parliament.uk; accessed 10 May 2014.
  29. ^ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10009/david_amess/southend_west/divisions?policy=826.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ a b Mp, Conservative (16 October 2002). "David Amess". BBC News. Retrieved 5 May 2008. 
  31. ^ David, Mess. "Don't Ignore Iran". Forbes. Retrieved 24 July 2016. 
  32. ^ "David Amess MP joins in applauding the work of the Young People's Trust for the Environment". UK Parliament. 10 November 2010. 
  33. ^ "EU vote: Where the cabinet and other MPs stand". BBC. 22 June 2016. 
  34. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  35. ^ "Sir David explains why he is backing Brexit". UK Parliament. 17 June 2016. 
  36. ^ "Southend MP Sir David Amess warns Barack Obama: Stay out of British politics". The Echo (Essex). 25 April 2016. 
  37. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N2. 
  38. ^ a b "News | UK World Animal Protection". Wspa.org.uk. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  39. ^ "A Charity Champion: David Amess MP Receives an Outstanding Achievement Award from Dods". Davidamess.co.uk. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  40. ^ "Animal Activist David Amess MP Nominated for Initiative Award – Grassroot Diplomat". Grassrootdiplomat.org. Archived from the original on 22 October 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  41. ^ Powell, Tom (13 October 2017). "Tory MP Sir David Amess retracts 'horrifying' comments about Harvey Weinstein and blames his staff". London Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 14 October 2017. 
  42. ^ "Brass Eye: Drugs". IMDB.com. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  43. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 23 Jul 1996 (pt 10)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  44. ^ Michael Wilkinson, Christopher Hope, (29 June 2015). "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". Daily Telegraph. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harvey Proctor
Member of Parliament for Basildon
19831997
Succeeded by
Angela Smith
Preceded by
Paul Channon
Member of Parliament for Southend West
1997–present
Incumbent