James Gray MP has welcomed the publication of the Etherton Report into the service and treatment of LGBT veterans who served prior to 2000 but pushes for the recommendations to be taken onboard without further delay.
In the Chamber on Wednesday, Mr Gray spoke in response to the Defence Secretary’s statement on the matter, saying:
“This is a very fine report, and Lord Etherton has done a first-class job in bringing it forward. I very much welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has made a real and heartfelt apology—as did my right hon. Friend in his statement—for this historic outrage.
However, would the House agree that the real outrage is that nothing at all has happened for 22 years? It has taken us as a nation 22 years, under all parties, to put this thing right. That is quite wrong. I therefore think that the sincerity of the Prime Minister’s apology will be judged not only by how well he does in achieving the 49 recommendations in the report but by how enthusiastically, how rapidly and how well he brings those things forward. The LGBT community are waiting to see what he does. We look forward to the debate in the autumn and we will judge him by the enthusiasm with which he adopts these recommendations.”
Mr Gray received strong support from the Defence Secretary, who mentioned he would also fight the cause from the backbenches in September when he steps down from his role as Secretary of State.
“I cannot answer the question of why it took 22 years. All I can say is that, from the authority I have in my office for now, having been able to commission this report and start this process is something that I am proud and pleased to have done, ably supported by the Veterans Minister and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, and by my colleague the Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison). I can only speak for that. As for the enthusiasm and support for getting this implemented, I will be sitting alongside my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (James Gray) and I can hold whoever comes to this Dispatch Box to account to do it. I absolutely think we should do it with enthusiasm. At one stage we thought about just having a full debate on this today, but that would have involved coming here with no solutions. That would be the worst thing to do to the House. The best thing is to come here with this statement today and come back after the summer and hold the Government to account. I will be there, beside my hon. Friend, holding them to account on whether they uphold these recommendations.”
Mr Gray has worked alongside colleagues and, in particular, the charity Fighting With Pride, to ensure that LGBT veterans receive the recognition and support that they deserve and will continue to do so.
At Home Office questions on Monday 3rd of July James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire once again raised the inappropriate use of the Wiltshire Hotel. Following up on an earlier Question where the Minster for Immigration reiterated his desire to move away from Hotel accommodation James Gray asked:
“While I do very much welcome the Minister’s determination to move away from hotels and towards other accommodation, will he give particular attention to the Wiltshire hotel and golf club in my constituency? The number there has gone up: there are now 120 people there, and they are all crammed into very small accommodation. It is not only bad from the point of view of the golf club members and neighbouring long-term residents with them in housing next door, but it is an extremely bad place from the point of view of the asylum seekers. They have nowhere to go and nothing to do. They have no education facilities and no religious facilities. They are stuck in the middle of the countryside with no transport, and it is quite the wrong place for them to be. Will the Minister please give particular attention to the Wiltshire hotel?”
Responding in the House of Commons, Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick said:
“I am familiar with the hotel in my hon. Friend’s constituency and the concerns he has raised. I will take a look at that, but as I have said previously, the answer to this challenge is to stop the boats coming in the first place. That is why we all need to support the Illegal Migration Bill. Those who want more hotels would oppose it. The Labour party’s policy will see more hotels, and the shadow Home Secretary will end up with more hotels to her name than Paris Hilton.”
James continues to support the Government’s actions to reduce small boat crossings and will continue to push ministers to end the use of the Wiltshire Hotel.
James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire has welcomed £6,980,000 of Government funding to make the A3102 which links Melksham, Calne and Swindon, safer for drivers and prevent fatal and serious injuries.
The funding is part of a £50 million package provided by the Government through the Safer Roads Fund to improve the safety of 27 of the country’s most dangerous roads.
This new funding builds on the £100 million already provided through the programme which includes the Government working with local authorities and safety groups to improve our roads.
According to Road Safety Foundation analysis, early estimates suggest that the £47.5 million investment should prevent around 760 fatal and serious injuries over the next 20 years, with a benefit to society of £420 million.
The fund follows the actions the Government has already taken to improve road safety, including banning any use of handheld mobile phones behind the wheel and updating the Highway Code to introduce a hierarchy of road users, which places road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.
Commenting James Gray MP said:
“Unsafe roads can be fatal for drivers, and we must increase road safety to ensure people can get on with their day to day lives without harm.
“That is why I am delighted the Government have provided Wiltshire Council with nearly £7 million of funding, the largest allocation in this round of the fund, to fix the A3102 and improve the route for drivers.
“This vital funding will not only save lives but improve day-to-day journeys for people getting to work or to visit friends and family.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper added:
“Britain’s roads are some of the safest in the world, but we are always looking at ways to help keep drivers and all road users safe.
“We’re injecting £47.5 million so that local councils around the country have the support they need to keep everyone safe, while reducing congestion and emissions and supporting local economies.”
James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire has welcomed £2,115,269 of Conservative Government funding for bus companies and Wiltshire to extend the £2 bus fare cap, as part of a £500 million investment to freeze bus fares nationally and improve vital local routes – ensuring passengers can continue to ‘Get Around for £2’ while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the sector.
The Government is investing £200 million in extending the cap for single bus fares at £2 outside of London until October 2023, and then at £2.50 until 30 November 2024.
Although the initial cap – announced at the start of this year – was introduced as a temporary measure, the scheme has successfully encouraged many more people to use local bus services, benefitting local economies, supporting jobs, and helping passengers with the cost of living.
A further £300 million has been announced to protect routes and services that are relied on for work, education, medical appointments, and shopping. As part of this, local transport authorities will receive £160 million to improve fares, services, and infrastructure, while £140 million will directly support operators in protecting essential services.
Across North Wiltshire, journeys including on the 55 bus route linking Chippenham, Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett and Swindon will be reduced to £2.
Commenting, James Gray said:
“Buses are vital to people across North Wiltshire helping people to access work, education, shops, and appointments – and keeping the cost of fares down will make a real difference to the lives of the millions of people who use them every day.
“That is why I am delighted the Government will be committing £500 million across the country, extending the £2 cap fare and protecting and improving vital local routes.
“This will help people to keep costs down, as the Government works to halve inflation, grow the economy, and reduce debt.”
Commenting, Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:
“Taking the bus is the most popular form of public transport and millions of people rely on these vital services every day.
“This half a billion pounds investment will help people save money amid cost of living pressures and continue to level up transport in all parts of the country, doing our bit to help halve inflation and grow the economy.”
“I am honoured and delighted to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for the new South Cotswolds Parliamentary Constituency,” said James Gray on Saturday. “I am so sorry to be losing some of my old North Wiltshire constituency, especially Royal Wootton Bassett and Box where I have many friends; but I keep Malmesbury and Cricklade and gain Cirencester, Tetbury, Lechlade and Fairford as well as many villages in between.”
Big changes in the make up of constituencies across the country will take effect at the next General Election and one of the most dramatic will be the formation of the new South Cotswolds seat which straddles Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. James Gray MP, who has represented North Wiltshire since 1997, has just been unanimously selected to represent the new constituency.
With a strong record of representing businesses, the military and individuals in the area he is particularly active in Parliament on environmental and rural matters. He is one of the Speaker’s Committee Chairmen. Before his election James was a Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for the Environment prior to which he had a career in the City and served in the Territorial Army.
“I am so pleased to have been asked to represent what must be one of the loveliest areas in Britain.”
Mr Gray and his wife Philippa live in Wiltshire but have strong links with Gloucestershire. “We have lived in the region for many years and have friends throughout the new seat, so it is all very familiar. Philippa was born just outside Lechlade and attended the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. I relish the opportunity to get to know the area more intimately, meet new people and look forward to new challenges that lie ahead”.
© 2022 Promoted by Nick Botterill, on behalf of James Gray, both of North Wiltshire Conservatives, 12 Brown Street, Salisbury SP1 1HE.