Sir David Amess was the best sort of MP, the best sort of colleague: he fiercely spoke up for the people he represented, for the causes he held dear, but always with compassion, with experience and with humour. He is already missed in this place. His loss has shocked us all. We have lost a very honourable Member, an honourable colleague and a friend. But our thoughts have to be, first and foremost, with his wife, his children and his whole family. Their loss is the greatest.
When I was elected in 2005 Sir David already had more than 20 years Parliamentary experience under his belt. We all know that on becoming an MP you enter a very well established apprenticeship scheme, which relies on people like David to pass on the knowledge of how this place works; how to be an effective MP. David always had words of encouragement and advice and I will always be grateful to him for that.
And encouraging others is exactly what he was doing with one of his latest ventures, his book “Ayes and Ears: A Survivors Guide to Parliament”. Typical for David, he wanted to share his experiences of being an MP, to encourage people to think again if they felt this place is solely the preserve of the rich and famous. And typically he dedicated the book to raise money for charities close to his heart: Endometriosis UK, Prost8 and the Leigh-based Music Man Project.
David and I did sometimes find ourselves on different sides of an argument, on issues that mattered to us both. A mark of his generosity and his character is that any discussion, any debate, any disagreement was respectful. There is much we can all learn from Sir David.
Last summer, along with a number of other MPs, I helped David to publicise his new book. He had decided to record a series of podcasts, with other MPs as guest interviewers. I was disappointed the recordings were being done online, missing an opportunity to make a return visit to David’s legendary office in 1 Parliament Street. In the interview I decided to ask him about his early years in Parliament, what it was like to be elected in the ‘80s, to be a Parliamentary Private Secretary under Margaret Thatcher. David’s face lighted up as he recalled the start of his extraordinary career as an MP; his behind the scenes view of such an important point in the political history of our country was enthralling. His book is a lasting tribute to a man who loved the House of Commons almost as much as he loved his constituency of Southend.
We will miss David: his contribution to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; as one of the longest serving members of the Speakers Panel of Chairs chairing Westminster Hall debates, Bill Committees with his usual generosity and good humour; but above all we will miss him as a friend.