David Amess: Classic backbench MP who was dedicated to legislation on his causes

Animal rights, fuel poverty, women's health and advocate against Iran regime

Conservative MP David Amess who was stabbed to death on Friday. AFP
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Sir David Amess (1952-2021) was a classic British backbench MP, in the sense that he used his elected post to push through single-issue legislation.

He was also a keen follower of Middle East affairs, supporting opposition to the Iranian regime.

Amess entered parliament in the 1983 general election, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. He won the Basildon constituency in Essex, south-east England.

The Conservative MP was strong supporter of free market economics and sceptical of the EU, supporting Brexit. He served as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Qatar and visited there last week.

Amess managed to push through several Private Members Bills, ranging from protecting animals to ensuring the elderly stayed warm in winter.

One of his most far-reaching achievements was the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act (2000), which required the government to implement a strategy for reducing fuel poverty.

The legislation was credited with reducing the number of inadequately heated homes in England from five million to 1.2 million, through changing attitudes and policy on the issue.

Through the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988) he ensured that horses and mules were not tethered in a manner that caused them unnecessary suffering.

He also voted against fox hunting, which went against traditional Conservative politics.

Another piece of legislation he guided on to the statute book was the Security Printing Materials Bill. This ended a loophole allowing companies supplying specialist printing equipment to counterfeiters to evade prosecution.

He also played an important role into an inquiry on obesity in Britain that found that two-thirds of the population was overweight.

Following a visit to his MP’s surgery by a constituent suffering endometriosis – a condition that inflames the womb and ovaries, affecting one in 10 women – he campaigned to raise public awareness.

Having voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he became highly critical of the Labour government when no weapons of mass destruction were found.

He was subsequently among 30 Conservative MPs who voted against the bombing of Syria in 2013, after the regime used chemical weapons against the civilian population.

Amess, a Roman Catholic, campaigned to have a statue in London of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in Hungary during the Nazi occupation.

A monument was finally unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.

Liked and respected by all sides in Parliament, Amess, a father of five, was known as a committed family man.

Above all he was considered a conscientious and hard-working constituency MP.

Updated: October 15, 2021, 10:11 PM