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 today.

“Service 55 was rightly upgraded to Gold by its operator Stagecoach. It links the communities of Chippenham, Calne, Lyneham, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon and enables over 1.2 million passengers to travel for work, education, shopping and leisure.”

“Over the last ten years, the number of passengers doubled on this one route alone. I very much hope that Stagecoach’s investment in a fleet of 10 new buses at a cost of some £2.5 million will encourage even more people to use the bus route and help reduce negative impact of car emissions on the environment. The new buses are very comfortable with Italian leather seats, extra legroom, free WIFI, USB charging points and individual lights.”

2018 02 13 James Gray MP 55 Gold Service bus

PassOnPlasticJames Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire, today signed a pledge to #PassOnPlastic with Sky Ocean Rescue – a commitment to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

Launched in January 2017, Sky Ocean Rescue aims to shine a spotlight on the issues of ocean health, particularly single-use plastic, and inspire people to make small changes, such as reducing plastic bags, straws, cutlery, and bottles in their daily life. The #PassOnPlastic pledge was signed by 113 MPs, all making a public commitment to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics.

Sky Ocean Rescue’s whale, Plasticus, which is made up of a quarter of a ton of plastic – the amount that enters our oceans every second – arrived outside Parliament to bring to life the scale of the problem.

Commenting, James Gray MP said: “I am committed to looking at ways to reduce my own plastic consumption. It is deeply worrying that there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans, with 8 million tonnes more ending up there every year. Plastic pollution is even affecting remote parts of the Arctic and Antarctica. We all have a role to play in protecting our oceans – that’s why I have signed my pledge to #PassOnPlastics and encourage others to do the same.”

James Gray MP - Defence DebateNorth Wiltshire MP James Gray has called for defence spending to rise towards three per cent during last week’s defence debate in Parliament. Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Mr Gray said:

“If we do not find a way of increasing our defence spending towards the 3% that many of us in the Chamber want, I fear that we will not be doing our duty. We will not be doing what our people send us here to do, and we will not be putting in place the correct way to defend our nation.”

Mr Gray also warned against any reduction in the current capabilities of the Armed Forces:

“If any such cuts were to take place - if HMS Bulwark were to go, for example, or if 1,000 people were to be cut from the Royal Marines - I want to make it plain that we would not go along with any such proposals from the Government.”

Finally, Mr Gray expressed his concerns about the current National Security Capability Review. Led by Mark Sedwill, National Security Adviser, the review is aimed at examining, across government, the policy and plans to deliver the National Security Strategy and to ensure that any investment in the required capabilities is efficient and effective. Defence is just one of thirteen individual strands considered. Mr Gray said:

“To have a national security review mixed in with a strategic defence review, and happening at a time that is not contingent with the national spending review, seems to be absolutely pointless and, indeed, substantially misleading.”

“It would seem perfectly logical and sensible, when carrying out a review, to start with the Foreign Office assessing the risk. The Cabinet Office should follow that by determining how much of that risk is to do with us—with policing or with cyber, for example. Those conclusions should then go to the Ministry of Defence, which would identify the threats to the nation and decide what to do about them. Subsequently, the Treasury should say, ‘Fine, that is what you want to do about the threat. Here is how we are going to find the money for it.’ ”

“I would like to see the defence part of the review separated out. It ought to be happening in the autumn of this year, at the same time as the Budget, in case we need more money to do what the Foreign Office says we ought to be doing.”

North Wiltshire MP James Gray tabled an Early Day Motion yesterday to congratulate the safe and successful completion of ‘Expedition Ice Maiden’. The Ice Maiden team comprised six British women all serving in the British Army or Army Reserve, who became the first all-female team to ski across Antarctica using muscle power alone.

Mr Gray said “as Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, and as someone who has visited the South Pole, I have taken a keen interest in the Ice Maiden’s journey through one of the world’s most extreme and hostile environments. Their success stands as a testament to the incredible levels of physical endurance, mental determination and teamwork that exists among women serving in the British Army and Army Reserve.

The team should be incredibly proud of what they have accomplished.”

After 60 days, 15 hours and 46 minutes the Ice Maidens skied from the 80th into the 79th degree, thereby completing their phenomenal Antarctic crossing.

Bring Back Britannia

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has backed the campaign for a new royal yacht to project the UK's unique soft power and influence around the globe now that we are leaving the European Union.

Mr Gray said:

“Now is the time to consider how post-Brexit Britain projects herself on the world stage.”

“The view of many people around the country is that the Government should commission a new Royal Yacht Britannia. It would be designed and built in the UK to showcase post-Brexit Britain and bring trade to our shores.”

“That’s why I am pleased to support this campaign and urge the Government to ‘Bring Back Britannia’.”

The previous Royal Yacht - HMY Britannia - was controversially decommissioned by Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in 1997 after more than 40 years in service.

HMY Britannia conducted 968 official visits and clocked up more than a million miles at sea. On her last deployment to the Far East commercial trade deals worth some £2.75bn were signed on board to the benefit of the UK.

Paid for by a new lottery along with other complementary sources of funding, there will be no call upon departmental budgets to pay for the vessel which is estimated to cost around £120m.

And in a letter organised by Craig Mackinlay MP and supported by 50 MPs, including Mr Gray, the MPs envisage both Government Ministers and the Royal Family alike could host diplomatic and commercial events on the new Royal Yacht to further raise Britain’s profile internationally and secure new trade opportunities.

South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay, commented:

“The new Royal Yacht must belong to the state so it has the benefit of diplomatic immunity when it visits international harbours around the globe. It has to fly the white ensign because it is crucial that it is crewed by our Royal Navy. And it has to have a strong connection with our royal family as that is the unique quality that will make its service to our nation succeed.

“To be achievable, we need to generate the money to build a new Royal Yacht. One way of doing this might be to establish a new national lottery to help pay for the new vessel and that is what I am urging the Government to introduce. And as there will be no call upon departmental budgets, we will be investigating other complementary sources of funding from business leaders who are supportive of the project.”