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Murdered MP Sir David Amess “remains sorely missed” in Parliament, a close friend has said, as a Commons debate was held in his honour.
Conservative former minister Mark Francois thanked Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Commons Leader Mark Spencer and others for agreeing to formally recognise Sir David in the final major debate before the summer recess.
The debate offered backbench MPs a chance to raise issues in the House of Commons, and hopefully a response from a minister, before the six-week parliamentary break.
Sir David was a regular attender at such debates and he would often rattle through a list of issues, including his regular call for Southend to be made a city.
His successor as MP for Southend West, Anna Firth, paid tribute by raising approximately 30 topics in her five-minute speech.
Sir David was fatally stabbed during a constituency surgery last October.
Mr Francois, speaking during the Sir David Amess Summer Adjournment Debate, said of his friend: “He remains sorely missed across this House, not least by me.
“This was already known unofficially as the David Amess debate because of the inimitable style in which he conducted it, but it’s wonderful to know what was unofficial is now official and I simply say thank you.”
Mr Francois also asked Commons deputy leader Peter Bone: “Can the minister promise me and all of Sir David’s friends and colleagues, and this House, that this will now be known as the Sir David Amess debate forever because I think that is the answer we’d like to hear.”
Earlier, Mr Francois raised Southend Hospital being given £7.1 million to ease pressures on its services.
He joked: “I think Sir David Amess would have welcomed this crucial funding too, and knowing him would immediately have asked for some more.”
Labour MP John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead) said both he and Sir David were “regular contributors to whinging gits afternoons”, the name they gave to the final debates before recess.
Conservative Ms Firth said: “It’s an honour to speak in this debate where Sir David delivered so many legendary performances.
“I can only do my very best to emulate him so here it goes.”
Following a speech in the style of Sir David’s rapid delivery touching on many subjects, Ms Firth said her final plea would be for the minister to “make Southend a UK city of culture in 2029”.
Conservative MP Sara Britcliffe said one of her predecessors as MP for Hyndburn, Ken Hargreaves, was Sir David’s best friend and godfather to two of his children.
She read out part of Sir David’s eulogy to Mr Hargreaves, which she said described their “cheeky” relationship.
Ms Britcliffe said: “It’s about a joke David played on Ken.”
MPs heard Sir David said: “I had thought we had the same views on pornography thinking there should be less of it, but one evening I observed Ken dashing into a lobby to vote.
“The lobby was fairly empty and when he came through he asked me what he had voted for, not knowing himself.
“‘More pornography,’ I replied. ‘Oh ‘eck’, said Ken.”
Labour’s shadow deputy Commons leader Jessica Morden joined MPs in paying tribute to Sir David, saying: “I did use to look on in awe at his contributions. He did own this debate. It was a masterclass.”
Commons deputy leader Peter Bone said: “I am a Southend West boy. And I grew up there. And Sir David was a great friend.”
Mr Bone also paid tribute to Ms Firth for continuing Sir David’s tradition of mentioning such a large number of topics during the debate.
He quoted Sir David’s last words in the same debate last year, where he called to make Southend-on-Sea a city, with Mr Bone saying: “I do hope Sir David is looking down on us today and smiling with pleasure.”