During Oral Questions for the Department for Work and Pensions in the House of Commons on Monday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray demanded more ought to be done to help care leavers stay in their local areas despite rising house prices.

In the House of Commons Chamber, Mr Gray asked:

“In my constituency, the problem is that the house prices are incredibly high and that that is coupled with a squeeze on the private rented sector, thanks to recent tax changes on private landlords. This means that care leavers in a place such as Wiltshire have little chance of staying where they come from and were born. What more can the Government do to find ways of encouraging these people to stay in their home area and helping them with it?”

​The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Mims Davies MP agreed with Mr Gray’s contribution, responding that:

“I thank my hon. Friend for raises these issues, which we have around the country. Let me assure the House that the Department for Education is looking at how it can encourage more local authorities to develop similar offers to care leavers, which was part of an independent review of children’s social care. That is part of the work that I, and the housing taskforce, are doing on housing, and I am keen to look at it.”

On Monday during Parliament’s Questions to the Home Secretary, North Wiltshire MP James Gray urged the Minister for Immigration to provide more appropriate accommodation for the 82 asylum seekers, who are currently housed at the Wiltshire Golf Hotel outside Royal Wootton Bassett.

Mr Gray said:

“We in Wiltshire are proud of the fact that some 900 Ukrainians will be enjoying Christmas dinner with us and that we have entertained a large number of Afghans, who looked after us so well doing the war. However, we were very surprised when last Friday 82 young Albanian men were moved into the very rural and very distant Wiltshire Golf Club without any notice at all to the neighbouring retirement village. Will the Minister agree with me that this is an inappropriate location for people of this kind, who are very probably economic migrants, and will seek to advance them elsewhere as soon as he possibly can?”

The Minister for Immigration, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, replied that:

“I am grateful to my honourable friend for that question. We don’t want to use hotels in any part of the country, we want to tackle the issue at its source. I understand the concerns of his constituents with respect to the hotel in Wiltshire. As I understand it, a smaller number of individuals have been accommodated there than perhaps he has been advised and that the local authority was informed in advance. But that doesn’t diminish the concerns of his constituents. I would happily talk to him and see what we can do to end this at the earliest opportunity.”

Mr Gray intends to take the matter forward with the Minister.

Following recent notification by the Home Office, North Wiltshire MP James Gray wrote to the Home Secretary to voice his opposition to her Department’s plan to house up to 82 asylum seekers in the Wiltshire Hotel. The site has been made ready to accommodate asylum seekers on a short-term emergency basis in case there is a significant number of arrivals over the Channel in the next few days.

In their notification email, the Home Office stated:

“This year we face record levels of asylum seekers arriving illegally in small boats. This has placed significant pressure on our accommodation – which we are legally required to provide to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute – whilst we consider their claim for international protection.”

In his own letter to the Home Secretary, James Gray wrote:

“The Wiltshire Hotel is in my view entirely unsuitable as a potential migrant housing site due to its very rural location and because it is primarily used for leisure activities such as golf. If there is any way a better site in a more central location could be found, I would be grateful. In the meantime, please register my strongest possible opposition to this plan.”

North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, has welcomed the announcement that Noremarsh Junior School in Royal Wootton Bassett has been selected as one of the schools that will be rebuilt or substantially refurbished as part of the fourth round of the Conservative Government’s School Rebuilding Programme.

The programme will provide funding to transform 500 schools across England, at a cost of £1.8 billion this financial year. The funding for Noremarsh Junior School will help to deliver state of the art learning environments for pupils, such as new classrooms, science labs, sports halls, and dining halls.

“I look forward to hearing more about the improvements which will now be possible at Noremarsh, and then, I hope, to visiting them.”

North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, raised the issue of funding for young people in Armed Forces families in post-16 education.

He raised with Andrew Murrison, Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families, why the Service Pupil Premium ends when children reach the age of 16.

Mr Gray stated during Defence Questions yesterday:

“My right hon. and gallant Friend will know that in Wiltshire alone we have 7,000 service children in our schools and that some 96% of all schools in Wiltshire have service kids in them, many of whom benefit from the services pupil premium. That is great, but it ends at age 16. Surely there is an argument in favour of continuing to help those children from 16 to 18, as we have changed the education system as a whole and education at 18 has become the norm.”

The Minister, also from Wiltshire, responded with:

“I am very grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend and near neighbour. He invites me to ensure that Wiltshire gets more cash, in particular the excellent Wiltshire College. That is very tempting indeed. I hear what he says, and nobody is keener than I am on improving skills, particularly post 16. I am more than happy to discuss the issue with him, but I suspect that what he suggests would have a significant price tag and our colleagues in the Treasury would rather I did not commit.”