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 and four daughters.
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. His former seat of Basildon fell to the 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 pro-life. In June 2005 Amess, who is a Roman Catholic, 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, and this was reinforced after a family member was stabbed to death.
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.
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