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A strong experienced voice for North Wiltshire
I offer long-standing experience and a track record as a successful, hard-working and caring representative of North Wiltshire in Parliament.
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Thursday 22 February 2018 Weekly Column

It will not be easy for Oxfam to recover from the devastating sex scandal currently engulfing it. But then again, perhaps we need to consider whether we prefer charities, Non-Governmental Organisations, funded by voluntary donations to deliver essential overseas humanitarian aid. Or do we prefer it to be done by taxpayers through the absurd legally binding 0.7% of GDP which we currently spend on overseas aid.

After all, most NGOs do outstandingly good work. There was some concern a few years ago about the percentage of donations being used by them for central administration. Of the £30 million raised by the BBC Children in Need project in 2006, for example, £3million went to cover the costs of the programmes. Cancer Research that year raised £300million from public donations, but spent more than £70 million in the process. Similarly, the NSPCC received £90 million but spent £18million. The top 500 fundraising charities spent on average 9% of their total expenditure on fundraising and publicity that year.

There are 195,289 charities registered in the UK, which collectively raise and spend some £80 Billion. Together they employ more than 1 million staff. In England and Wales there are 1939 active charities focused on children, 581 charities trying to find a cure for cancer, 354 charities for birds, 255 charities for animals, 81 charities for people with Alcohol problems and 69 charities fighting Leukaemia. Amongst overseas aid charities, Oxfam spends £368 Million a year; Christian Aid £95 million, ActionAid £49million, CAFOD £49 million and Care International £39 million., That is without mentioning War on Want, World Vision, Concern Worldwide and Comic Relief.

Oxfam spends £20.3million annually on campaigns and advocacy (2013/14 annual report). Last year they raised £385.5 million; and of every £10 raised, £6.34 is spent on ‘saving lives.’ So NGOs are demonstrably better than payments to often corrupt foreign governments or rulers, but some discretion is still needed.

An enormous part of our Aid spending has in the past gone via the EU, a yet more questionable way of doing it, since, of course there is no direct national benefit from it. The EU has earmarked $68 Billion for aid between 2014 and 2020 (although thankfully we will be well out of it by then.), plus the $32 Billion spent by the European Development Fund. Of all of that £1.3 Billion comes directly from the UK, out of the £12.1 Billion we spend over all. Yet the money spent by the EU and EDF is even less accountable than that of the UK, and there have been consistent reports of money being badly mis-spent. Last year, for example, EDF gave £400Million of British cash to fund projects in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and sending officials to the Caribbean to discuss renewable energy. A total of £152,293, according to the Daily Express was handed over to projects including trapeze, acrobatics and juggling in Tanzania as part of a ‘Fit for Life Scheme.’

So Oxfam may not be great in some respects, but it’s a great deal preferable to the EU, or indeed our own DFID.

Thursday 15 February 2018 Weekly Column

It’s been a pretty torrid few weeks in Parliament, so I was looking forward to a few days in North Wiltshire. Here’s a flavour of it.

I was very glad to be able to persuade Lyneham’s Colonel Ed Heal that the planned Motor Car events on the old runway at Lyneham were deeply unwelcome, and risked damaging the excellent relations the Defence Technical Training College have with local people. I am not sure he needed much persuasion, and they will not now happen. I am glad that other

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Wednesday 14 February 2018 Latest News

“I was delighted that in a meeting with Colonel Ed Heal, Commandant of the Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at MOD Lyneham, on Friday we had a wide ranging discussion about non-military activities on the base. Col Heal readily agreed to my suggestion that he should cancel the motorcar track days which were planned for this year and about which local people have expressed a great deal of concern. I was glad to be able to confirm to Col Heal that local people welcomed

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Tuesday 13 February 2018 Latest News

2018 02 13 James Gray MP 55 Gold Service“I was delighted to unveil a new fleet of environmentally-friendly double deck buses on one of the most significant bus routes across whole of Wiltshire,” said North Wiltshire MP James Gray after the launch of a new 55 Gold Service bus in Royal Wootton Bassett earlier

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Thursday 8 February 2018 Weekly Column

“Fit for the twenty-first century,’ and expressions like it, are aching clichés. ‘Modernisation’ for ‘modernisation’s sake’ is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and worthless. ‘New is Good and Old is Bad’ is as false as Orwell’s ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ in Animal farm. All of these things are camouflage for woolly thinking, or lack of real justification for a particular action, or often both.

So it was with the debate over whether or not to turf out the 9,000 people who work in

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