Sir David Amess MP

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th October 2021.

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Photo of Alex Cole-Hamilton Alex Cole-Hamilton Liberal Democrat

I did not know David Amess, but I recognise him. I recognise the descriptions of the warmth and generosity with which he greeted members of all parties. I recognise his commitment to, and work towards, good causes including fire prevention and animal welfare.

In particular, I recognise the description of the final moments before he was attacked. Sir David was murdered at work, in a constituency surgery not unlike those that are held by each of us in church halls, offices and libraries the country over, week in and week out. He was killed while performing one of the fundamental duties of a representative of democracy—he was making himself available to his constituents, offering them help and receiving their instructions.

What happens in those venues is often more important than anything that happens in this chamber; there is no more important function in the role that we perform as elected public servants. We never know exactly what is coming through the door. Sometimes, it can seem straightforward; at other times, it will be deeply complex.

At face value, the issues are sometimes mundane and sometimes earth shattering, but the unifying theme in almost every surgery appointment and case-work meeting is that the issue that is described to us is the most important thing in the person’s world. For the passage of half an hour or so, we have to make it the most important thing in our world. By all accounts, Sir David’s time revolved around his constituents.

Discussions about the safety and security of our elected members have once again begun in earnest. That is understandable, but this act of remembrance is not the time for such debate. All I will say is that, whatever what has happened gives rise to, it must not make it harder for people to come and see us.

I hope that a thousand years from now these islands will still enjoy the freedom of a representative democracy. Our society at that time will be unrecognisable to us now, but that fundamental pillar of the social contract—a person in need seeking help and finding it in the hearing of their elected members—will and should remain.

I offer my sincerest condolences and those of my party to everyone who knew and cared about Sir David.