During Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons on Wednesday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke up for those who volunteer in society and provide our communities with much needed emergency and support services. Mr Gray said:

“I know that the whole House will join the Prime Minister in thanking the emergency services and the armed services when they step up to the mark at times of national or local emergency such as the mosque outrage or the Novichok incident in Salisbury, near my constituency, but will she also do what she has done throughout her time as Prime Minister and pay tribute to a vast army of other people—the volunteers in our society who do so much for us? I am thinking particularly of the Royal British Legion, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the Red Cross, and, especially on this important day in its life, the Order of St John and St John Ambulance. Those are truly the big society.”

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, supported Mr Gray’s question, responding that:

“My hon. Friend is absolutely right. So much of what happens in our country—so much that is good in our country—does indeed depend on volunteers up and down the country, including those in the organisations that my hon. Friend has mentioned, and those in other community groups and charities too. We should celebrate the work that volunteers do, we should commend them for their work, and, above all, we should say a wholehearted thank you.”

On Wednesday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray attended a Greenpeace Parliamentary reception, organised to spread awareness about the impact of plastic pollution on our rivers and wildlife.

At the event, MPs and guests heard from some inspiring speakers, including Steve Backshall and Amy Meek from ‘Kids Against Plastic,’ about the key changes they want to see for the environment. They also highlighted the negative impact of single use plastics, and the need for a solution which goes further than recycling alone.

After the event James Gray MP said that:

“I was extremely pleased to have attended this Greenpeace event to highlight the negative impact that plastic has on our environment and learn more about how we can address the problems of plastic pollution. I have pledged to support a meaningful Environment Bill to help restore nature and support our wildlife. Action needs to be taken to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management. Parliament needs to work to achieve these goals.”

Before the event, Greenpeace crossed the UK with scientists and wildlife experts, to carry out the biggest ever survey of plastic in our inland waters. All 13 rivers tested contained micro-plastics and they found a total of 1,271 pieces of plastic, ranging in size from straw and bottle-top fragments to tiny microbeads less than 1mm across, demonstrating the need for action.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, a year ago today, said she wanted a “speedy resolution” in the ongoing negotiations between NHS England, NICE and drug manufacturer Vertex so that cystic fibrosis patients could have access to Orkambi and Symkevi. Yet, since then, no resolution has been agreed.

To mark the anniversary of this stalemate, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Zoey Jones, and her 12-month-old Eve who has cystic fibrosis, will hand in 65 yellow roses to Theresa May at number 10 Downing Street, today.

Alongside the 65 roses – a term sometimes used by children to pronounce the name of their disease - the charity will deliver a cross party letter signed by local MP James Gray inviting Theresa May to attend a Parliamentary Debate (June 10th) on the issue. The letter asks for the Prime Minister to give an update to MPs on what must happen to bring an end to the ongoing negotiations and give cystic fibrosis patients access to these lifesaving precision medicine drugs – Orkambi and Symkevi.

Orkambi is the second precision medicine that targets the root cause of the disease and would benefit around half of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the UK. It has been licensed for use for over three years, but a deal to make it available on the NHS for patients in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is yet to be struck. During that time, a third drug to treat the root cause of the condition, Symkevi, has been approved for use but is also not available on the NHS.

James Gray MP stated that:

“I am backing the Cystic Fibrosis Trusts campaign which calls for access to lifesaving drugs for those with Cystic Fibrosis. This is an extremely important campaign, that can have a real impact on those with the disease.

Today marks a year since Theresa May said she was keen to see a ‘speedy resolution’ in the ongoing dialogue between NHS England and Vertex. Yet, the wait goes on. I have signed a cross party letter due to be delivered to Downing street today which calls on the Prime Minister to act and end the wait for thousands living with this life-threatening condition. We need to see these drugs made available now.”

The Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire, James Gray joined a team of ploggers in Cricklade, this bank holiday Monday, to help raise awareness of the scourge of single-use plastic and help pick up the plastic left along the Thames.

With over 75% of fish in the River Thames estimated to have plastic in their guts and over 80% of ocean litter being plastic, Plogolution wanted to raise awareness as well as document all plastic and other litter picked up along their Ultra Plog.

James Gray MP said:

“It was great to welcome local girl Michele Parkes, born and brought up in Cricklade, back to her old stamping ground to help her campaign against plastic litter. Michelle is the founder of Plogolution, a charity which combines physical fitness with litter collection. She and a gang of others have set themselves the task of running the 184 mile length of the Thames from its source near Ashton Keynes to the Thames Barrier in 6 days, collecting litter as they go along.

Thanks partly to Sir David Attenborough’s brilliant Blue Planet 2, we now all know about the appalling damage which plastic waste is doing to our oceans and wildlife. We must use less, recycle more and collect the plastic waste which others haver thoughtlessly thrown away. Only thanks to initiatives such as this do we stand any chance of saving our oceans, our environment and our planet for future generations.”

Dermot Kavanagh, Michelle’s co-founder of Plogolution, said:

“We set up Plogolution as a way to encourage people to be fit and healthy and care about their local communities at the same time. This Ultra Plog is an excellent way to generate awareness of the amount of rubbish that litters our riverside paths and sadly eventually ends up in the river and then the sea. We hope to have people join us on the way either for all of it or various sections as we pass through.”

James Gray has welcomed the announcement that four businesses in North Wiltshire, Chipside Ltd, Qualaseot Pharmaxo Holdings, Clarendon Specialty Fasteners Ltd, and Alvan Branch Development Company Ltd, have received awards for both ‘Innovation’ and ‘Internatonal Trade.’ They were part of more than 200 businesses having been honoured with a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Three quarters of this year’s winners are small and medium sized businesses, demonstrating that the UK is one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business. This is down to the environment created by the Conservative Government and the support they have given, which includes:

  • Investing £7 billion through our modern Industrial Strategy in new public funding for research and innovation – the largest ever increase.
  • Helping small businesses access the finance they need – since it was established, the British Business Bank has provided support worth £5.9 billion of finance to over 82,000 smaller businesses across the country.
  • Providing small businesses with £200 million to grow and scale-up their operations.
  • Providing a £31 million package of support for small businesses helping them to grow and reach their full potential.
  • Legislating to make it easier for small businesses to access invoice finance, providing a £1 billion long-term boost to the economy.
  • Cutting business rates for small retailers by a third for two years – saving 90 per cent of all shops, pubs and restaurants up to £8,000.

The winners will receive these prestigious awards at a Buckingham Palace reception, where their contribution to the UK economy will be celebrated. These awards recognise businesses for their contribution in four categories, with winners including:

  • 129 International Trade winners
  • 61 Innovation winners
  • 6 Sustainable Development winners
  • 5 Promoting Opportunity winners

Commenting on the awards, Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

“We know that the UK is the best place to start and grow a business, which we will build on through our modern Industrial Strategy. These awards recognise great British success stories that are the face of this achievement, and I’m proud that so many small businesses are being celebrated by receiving a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.”

James Gray MP further praised the winners, stating that: 

“I am delighted that these businesses have been recognised by Her Majesty The Queen with such a prestigious award. They all make a huge contribution, not just to North Wiltshire, but also to our growing economy. These businesses were selected for their entrepreneurship and I am delighted that they have been recognised for their hard work.”