North Wiltshire MP and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions, James Gray, praised both the British research vessel the RSS Sir David Attenborough and the work of the British Antarctic Survey in both Polar Regions.

During Oral Questions to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy yesterday, Mr Gray asked the Minister:

“Does the Minister agree that she (RSS Sir David Attenborough) is the epitome of all that is best about British science, and that the British Antarctic Survey, through its work in both the Antarctic and the Arctic, leads the world in research on climate change in particular, and in so many other areas of science?”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation, George Freeman, firmly agreed with the Mr Gray, stating

“My hon. Friend is right, and he is also a powerful envoy for the Government in terms of our polar science. The royal research ship Sir David Attenborough is something of which all of us in the House can be proud. It is an incredible platform, and it embodies the very best of British leadership in science and innovation, with international scientists working on global challenges.”

The North Wiltshire MP set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions in 2015 and has since been a powerful advocate for the better education of parliamentarians about the scientific importance of these areas and the devastating effect of climate change upon them.

James Gray MP chaired the Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly on 1 December 2021, convening over 40 parliamentarians from 24 countries - including China, the USA and the UK - in a virtual conference to discuss the challenges facing Antarctica and the Antarctic Treaty.

“Bringing such a large group together just weeks after COP26 to discuss the melting ice sheets in Antarctica shows that climate change is still top of the international agenda” said Mr Gray after the half-day conference.

“Direct access to scientists whose first-hand accounts of the impact of climate change in Antarctica facilitated important discussions that will enable parliamentarians to press their governments into action.”

Expert speakers from seven countries delivered sessions on topics ranging from the impact of covid-19 on Antarctic science, to marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean, and monitoring penguin colonies from space.

The conference followed on from the hugely successful inaugural Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly held in London in 2019 and organised by James Gray as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions. (The covid-19 pandemic forced the international delegations to meet online this year, but it is hoped that the third event in two years’ time will be held physically and in the Southern Hemisphere.)

“With the Antarctic Treaty System under increasing pressure to address new challenges, the Assembly provided an opportunity for parliamentarians, rather than governments, to learn more about Antarctica and press their legislatures to support and prioritise the work of the Treaty.”

“I am delighted with the success of the Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly, gathering parliamentarians and representatives from China, the USA and Russia among many others, to discuss contentious issues that governments and diplomats often cannot."

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 today to call for the banning of plastic in wet wipes. The Ten-Minute Rule Bill, for which Mr Gray is a co-sponsor, was presented by Fleur Anderson MP this afternoon.

The Bill aims to encourage people to move towards reusable alternatives rather than flushing plastic-filled wipes after one use. Wet wipes are behind 93% of blockages in UK sewers and the Thames Water area alone has on average 85,000 blockages a year due to fat and wet wipes.

Mr Gray stated:

“In the UK alone, a staggering 11 billion wet wipes are used every year, 90% of which contain some form of plastic. This plastic then breaks down into microplastics, which can be ingested by marine and riverine animals, and are entering into our food chain and water supply.

This is not a call to ban wet wipes completely, but there are plenty of non-plastic alternatives such as: bamboo fibre wipes, plant-based wipes, organic cotton wipes and washable re-usable cloths which we should be using instead. Fleur’s Ten-Minute Rule Bill calls upon greater responsibility on manufacturers and suppliers to label products correctly and to promote reusable products, and I am proud to support it.”

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.”