I am truly shocked and saddened by the brutal murder of my friend and colleague Sir David Amess. He was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people in Parliament, and I have known him for 30 years. It is a particular wickedness that he lost his life just doing his ordinary job-in his surgery, and my thoughts and prayers are with all of his family and friends at this devastatingly sad time.

North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, joined colleagues from across the House yesterday to raise awareness of One Punch Assaults during One Punch Awareness Week.

The One Punch charity and All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) are using this week to promote the dangers around one punch assaults, focusing on the tag line ‘one punch can kill’.

Currently in the UK there is no data on the impacts of One Punch Assaults due to the complexity of disaggregating one punch assaults from other assaults, something the APPG on One Punch Assaults is currently investigating and trying to improve.

Commenting, Mr Gray said:

“One punch assaults can have a devastating and often life threatening impact. I was glad to join Dehenna Davison MP and many other colleagues from across the House today to raise awareness of the destruction cases like this can cause.”

Chair of the APPG and Bishop Auckland MP, Dehenna Davison, said:

“It was great to see so many colleagues from across the House join me in Westminster Hall today to raise awareness of the devastating impacts one punch assaults can have.

“I am incredibly grateful to James Gray MP for joining me today, as this is such a personal passion of mine and I appreciate his support on raising awareness of this issue.”

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, has welcomed the return to normal business in Parliament and the chance to resume his usual advice surgeries after a long-enforced break due to the Covid pandemic.

Mr Gray said:

“Over the past months I have managed to keep in touch with constituents via telephone and email but there is really no substitute to face to face meetings to try and help people deal with problems and concerns. 

I have always held surgeries around the constituency on alternate Saturday mornings and have found them to be of great benefit in trying to assist people with all manner of issues ranging from bureaucratic muddles through to urgent personal and financial problems and many other things in between.  I make myself available without an appointment in a number of locations to try and ensure people can come and see me with as little difficulty as possible and I welcome the chance to help in any way I can. 

I am of course still available by phone and email, but this does not suit everyone and is not always suitable if people wish to bring in paperwork to show me.  I very much look forward to seeing people in my forthcoming surgeries at Cricklade and Malmesbury on Saturday 25th September.”

North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, quizzed Leo Docherty MP, the Minister for Defence People and Veterans, during Defence Questions yesterday afternoon. 

Mr Gray raised the issue of Operation Warm Welcome, the initiative to ensure that Afghan refugees are fully supported as they rebuild their lives in the United Kingdom and asked what can be done locally to help.

“There are 100 [refugees] in my constituency. How can we find a way to give them a warmer welcome? Could local communities, for example, find ways of welcoming them to barbeques or other ways to make them feel at home?”

The Minister responded:

“Of course, there will be a very significant role for the wider community and the third sector to play in welcoming our Afghan friends. I recently visited an Afghan cricket team that had been put together by a local pastor. The whole community is quite demonstrably coming together.”

Mr Gray was quoted afterwards as saying

“It is incredibly important that communities across the country welcome any refugees and make them feel as comfortable as possible in their new surroundings. This is a time to pull together and help those who have, quite literally, lost everything. I am certain that North Wiltshire will be at the forefront of this initiative and look forward to seeing how we can put Operation Warm Welcome in action in the South West.”

James Gray MP hosted a Parliamentary event thanking St John Ambulance volunteers and frontline staff for their extraordinary efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday September 8th.

50 St John people, including volunteer and employed ambulance crews from the South West, attended the event.

Since March 2020, tens of thousands of St John people have given more than a million hours of their time to care for people in hospitals, on ambulances, at events, through community projects, and by helping deliver the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The event followed praise for St John volunteers during the day’s Prime Minister's Questions from Boris Johnson and was addressed by the Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid, the Charities Minister Baroness Barran, Minister for Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi, and Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, James Gray also raised the importance of the role of St John in supporting the health service:

“This is, I think, the first opportunity for the whole House to thank all those who have played a role in rolling out the superb vaccine programme over the past six months or so, ranging from the whole of the national health service to the military. If I may, I should like to make particular mention of the Order of St John—St John Ambulance.”

The Prime Minister replied: "The volunteers have been fantastic and I have met many of them over the past 18 months who have done an absolutely astonishing job.”

St John is now looking at how it can build a lasting legacy from the pandemic, ensuring clinically trained volunteers are ready to help the NHS when needed.

Chief Executive of St John Ambulance, Martin Houghton-Brown said:

“We want to develop and maintain the additional capacity we need to stand ready as the nation’s auxiliary ambulance service; to retain and engage the thousands of new volunteers who’ve joined us during the pandemic by creating new roles and opportunities within St John for them to help their communities through first aid; and to ensure the expertise and capacity of skilled volunteers like ours is included in future planning for emergency resilience and response.”