“The Arctic and the North Atlantic have been central to Britain’s strategic approach to the world for many decades, but especially in the Second World War and Cold War,” North Wiltshire MP James Gray told the House of Commons Defence Select Committee last week.

“In recent years, NATO seems to have turned its attention away from the Arctic and the High North in favour of the Middle East and elsewhere in the south. I just think that that is a significant strategic gap… a risk, at least, that there are threats in the Arctic that NATO and the British Government are ignoring,” he added.

Mr Gray was giving evidence to the Defence Committee at the first public session on the re-launched sub-Committee inquiry on ‘Defence in the Arctic’. The initial inquiry started last December, under Mr Gray’s chairmanship of the sub-Committee, but Parliament was dissolved before it could report.

Mr Gray, who subsequently moved up from the Defence Committee to join the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy praised the sub-Committee, for re-opening the inquiry, saying: “I am delighted that the Defence Committee has decided to take forward the Arctic inquiry. I do think that the Committee’s report has the opportunity to be quite a significant stone thrown into the pond created by melting ice.”

“I am delighted that having served for a number of years on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, I have now been appointed to the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy, and reappointed to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly,” said North Wiltshire MP James Gray, speaking in Westminster earlier today.

The Joint Committee on National Security Strategy is the Parliamentary Committee consisting of Members of both Houses (Lords and Commons), and was established to scrutinise the work of the National Security Council and National Security Adviser.

Mr Gray holds a number of defence-related appointments. After seven years’ service in Army Reserve (Honourable Artillery Company), he is Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, and of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust. He is Patron of Operation Christmas Box, which distributes boxes to service personnel on operations overseas on Christmas Day. A former Shadow Defence Minister and visiting fellow of St Antony‘s College Oxford, Mr Gray is a joint author of Who Takes Britain to War? (History Press, 2015).

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has recognised the vital role that farmers are contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster last week.

Farming in the South West region contributes £1.25 billion to the local economy and provides 66,079 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was organized by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming during a particularly crucial period as the Brexit negotiations continue.

Speaking at the event, Mr Gray said: “There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy. That is why I am proud to wear the NFU’s Back British Farming pin badge in Parliament today.”

“Farming in North Wiltshire alone contributes some £23.7 million to the nation’s economy and provides over 1,250 jobs.”

“These reasons are why I have pledged to Back British farming in Westminster and to ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.”

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

More information about NFU’s Back British Farming campaign is available at https://www.countrysideonline.co.uk/new/home/get-involved-must-read/back-british-farming/

North Wiltshire MP James Gray congratulated Royal Wootton Bassett Academy after being awarded the prestigious UCL ‘Quality Mark’ for excellence in Holocaust Education.

“The Academy is one of only eight schools in the country to have received this accolade. Improving Holocaust education should be a focus for schools across the country and I am delighted that Royal Wootton Bassett Academy has taken the lead on this, earning a ‘Quality Mark’ in the process. This is a significant accomplishment and I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to all those involved in the project.”

North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke up in support of the decision to scrap the Severn tolls during Wales questions yesterday morning. Mr Gray highlighted that this would not only benefit Wales, but also companies based in counties such as Wiltshire who conduct business in Wales on a regular basis.

“The scrapping of the Severn tolls is a huge benefit to businesses across Wales. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is also of vast benefit to businesses in places such as Wiltshire, where HGV operators have been paying £20 a time to get across the Severn? All of sudden, they will be able to do business in Wales much more profitably.”

The Secretary of State responded that

“My hon. Friend has rightly recognised that scrapping the Severn tolls is a significant boost not only to the south Wales economy, but to the economy of the south-west of England. He welcomed it along with the South Wales chamber of commerce, Business West and many others. It seems that the only people who have not welcomed the scrapping of the Severn tolls are the Labour party and the Welsh Government.”

A decision such as this will not only promote more business in Wales, but may also encourage Welsh companies to do business across the border.