David Amess

David Amess
David Amess MP
Member of Parliament
for Southend West
Basildon (1983-1997)
Assumed office
9 June 1983
Preceded by Harvey Proctor
Majority 7,270 (16.7%)
Personal details
Born David Anthony Andrew Amess
26 March 1952 (1952-03-26) (age 59)
Plaistow, London, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Julia Arnold
Alma mater Bournemouth University
Committees Chairmen's Panel Committee (2001 - )[1]
Health Committee (1998 - 2008)
Religion Roman Catholic[2]
In Parliament Activity  · Votes
Website davidamess.co.uk

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

He was born in Plaistow, London to James and Maud Ethel 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.

Amess taught at the St John the Baptist Primary School in Bethnal Green for a year from 1970, and then spent a short time as an underwriter before becoming a recruitment consultant. He became chairman of Accountancy Solutions from 1987–90, then Accountancy Group from 1990-6.

In 1983, he married Julia Monica Margaret Arnold in Westminster. They have five children: one son (who served 4 years in prison for attacking someone in a night club fight[3]) and four daughters.

Political career

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.[4]

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.

Policy positions

Amess normally adheres to Conservative party policy when voting in the Commons,[5] however he is very strongly in favour of the ban on fox-hunting.

Amess was also fooled into filming an elaborate video warning against the dangers of a fictional Eastern European drug called Cake[6] and asked a question about it in Parliament.[1] The drug purportedly affected an area of the brain called Shatner's Bassoon (altering your perception of time), can give you a bloated neck due to massive water retention (allegedly known in the then non-existent Czechoslovakia as "Czech Neck") and was frequently referred to as "a made-up drug" (a drug, they were told, not made from plants but made up from chemicals).

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 pro-life.[7] 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.[7]

Brass Eye

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".[8] 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",[9] 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[10] and reiterating his disapproval of recreational drug use.


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 hairdressers while avoiding the press.[11]

Failure to declare interests

Amess visited the Maldives on several occasions - "In September 2007 David Amess visited the Maldives, on a trip paid for in part by the government of the Maldives, yet no registration of the trip appears in the Register of Members' Interests.

Mr Amess visited the Maldives again between August and September 2008, paid for by the Maldives government. The visit was registered in September 2009, a year late." [12]

Amess asked 15 questions in parliament relating to the Maldives before his interest in had been registered. The parliamentary question numbers were published by the BBC website.


External links

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

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