James Gray MP has today pledged support for the Long Live The Local Campaign to help pubs in North Wiltshire keep their doors open. James Gray joins the more than 100,000 people who have signed the petition so far, including 194 in North Wiltshire.

James Gray MP is calling on the Government to cut beer tax at the Budget. With £1 in every £3 spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers now pay 40% of all beer tax across the EU, but drink only 12% of the beer. Brewing and pubs in North Wiltshire supports 1284 jobs and contributes £29.6m to the local economy.

Commenting on the campaign, James Gray MP said:

“Pubs are at the heart of communities across North Wiltshire, but with three British pubs closing their doors for good every day the Government should consider a cut to beer tax. I’m supporting the Long Live The Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to cut beer tax at this year’s Budget to support pubs in our local communities.”

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:

“Beer duty has increased by 60% over the last 17 years and now the UK has one of the highest rates of tax in Europe. When over two thirds of all alcoholic drinks purchased in the pub are beers, a cut in beer tax would go a long way to protecting pubs across North Wiltshire. We are very grateful to James Gray for supporting the Long Live The Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the tens of thousands of people across the country who are calling for a cut in beer tax to protect our pubs.”

“As Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, I was delighted to welcome 120 soldiers representing both Regular and Reserve contributions to operations across the world to Parliament last Wednesday. Every single serviceman and woman demonstrated the work done by the British Army to protect our nation,” said North Wiltshire MP James Gray.

“The soldiers marched in to Parliament from Wellington Barracks through Carriage Gates, accompanied by the Band of the Grenadier Guards, halting at the North Door of Westminster Hall, where I, the Prime Minister, members of the All-Party Group, MPs and Peers of all Parties, the Sergeant at Arms, the Black Rod and staff of both Houses welcomed them and applauded their efforts on our behalf. I was pleased to say a few words of welcome along with the Prime Minister and to thank them for their service.”

Major General Rupert Jones, Director Engagement and Communication, who is shortly to take up the appointment of Standing Joint Force Commander said: “I am grateful to James Gray MP and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces for inviting the soldiers to march into Parliament and for hosting a special reception for us on the Terrace of the Palace of Westminster.“

“The British Army is deployed across the globe every day to protect the nation. Last Wednesday was a great opportunity to thank our highly skilled and professional soldiers for their selfless commitment.”

“After a group photo on the steps of Westminster Hall, we then proceeded to the Terrace of the House of Commons for a reception, where the soldiers were able to meet members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces and other Parliamentarians. They were then given guided tours of both Houses of Parliament,” added Mr Gray.

North Wiltshire MP James Gray attended a small service at Luckington church yesterday to rededicate two graves of those who had given military service. Mr Gray read from the Gospel of St John and said afterwards:

“Self-sacrifice for the greater good of the greater number is the spirit which permeates our armed services, where huge discomfort, and of course great risk to life and limb, are accepted for the greater good of the soldier’s mates and unit, and ultimately for the greater good of Queen and Country.”

James Gray MP trying out the virtual reality auto-paint spraying machine

North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, accepted an invitation from his constituent, who is the Chairman of the S & B Automotive Academy in Bristol, to visit their excellent apprenticeship training headquarters on Friday.

Mr Gray said:

“I very much admired and appreciated the exceptionally good facilities which S & B Automotive Academy provide for a very large number of automotive apprenticeships every year. I enjoyed trying out the virtual reality auto-paint spraying machine, although suspect that I probably landed up paint-spraying the ceiling as well as the vehicle door, which I was supposed to be painting green.

“Apprenticeships are an incredibly important part of training our young people, especially in an area like this, and the S & B Automotive Academy make an outstanding contribution in the automotive apprenticeship world.”

North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke in the House of Commons yesterday during the debate on the Salisbury Incident. Representing all seven Members of Parliament for Wiltshire and Swindon, Mr Gray payed tribute to all those involved in the aftermath of the attack, saying:

“The first thing I think we should do, and it has been done by most speakers throughout the past couple of weeks, is pay enormous tribute to the emergency services in Wiltshire, in particular the ambulance service, the Odstock Hospital workers and the police, who did such a superb job both on the occasion itself—on the two occasions, I should say—and in the aftermath…I also pay tribute to the Army and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. They made a huge contribution in the aftermath of the event. I also pay tribute to Wiltshire Council. ​My noble Friend, Baroness Scott of Bybrook, has been very strong in the support she has given the people of Salisbury and the rest of the county in the aftermath of the event.”

Mr Gray went on to highlight the effects of the Novichok poisonings on the people of Salisbury,

“It would be wrong to exaggerate the effect that these incidents have had on the people of Salisbury, Amesbury and the surrounding district. They were, of course, appalling incidents and there was a real feeling at the time of concern that the effect might be wider than it turned out to be. As a result, there has been some downturn in tourism and commerce in Salisbury—some 12.9%, I am informed—but it is recovering rapidly. The people of Salisbury are resilient in every way. The businesses I have spoken to realise that they must offer something for the people who come in from the surrounding area, and they are already doing that to a significant degree. I do not think that we should talk Salisbury down….. The people of Salisbury are well able to handle this. Now that it has been made plain that there is no risk of any kind at all to pedestrians or passers-by in the city of Salisbury or elsewhere, I think that people will return rapidly.”

The MP for North Wiltshire concluded by reinforcing view that the argument was not with the people of Russia, stating:

“It is very important that we maintain our talks and connections with the ordinary people of Russia. They are not our enemy; Mr Putin and his regime are our enemy.”