North Wiltshire MP, James Gray, spoke during the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bills yesterday evening. This Bill is of particular importance to the MP following the tragic murder of Ellie Gould at her home in Calne in May 2019. Mr Gray has been fighting alongside Mr and Mrs Gould for a change in the sentencing of minors – featured in clauses 101 to 105 – as well as the issue of premeditation.

The North Wiltshire MP stated:

“Under clause 101, a 17-year-old who turns 18 during the course of the trial, as happened in this case, will now face a similar penalty to the one they would face if they had been 18 at the time of the crime. Until now, a 17-year-old was treated much the same as a 10-year-old, and of course, they are very different people. A sliding scale will now be introduced, so that a 17-year-old will be pretty much treated as an adult.”

Later in his speech, Mr Gray detailed his concerns for the issue of premeditation in the Bill:

“However, the Bill does not address the third anomaly, which is that had Griffiths brought the knife to the scene rather than pick it up in the kitchen, his sentence would have more than doubled—he would have got up to 27 years, rather than 12 and a half. Surely a frenzied attack of this kind, whether it is done with the knife that someone brings with them or a knife that they find in the kitchen, deserves the fullest possible sentence in the law.

There is an argument that women who are victims of domestic abuse may carry out a murder in self-defence using a knife at home. Surely the criminal law could find a way of saying that murder in self-defence under those conditions is quite different from a brutal murder such as that of Ellie Gould.”

After raising these points in the House of Commons Chamber last night, Mr Gray ended with the poignant observation that:

“Nothing can bring Ellie Gould back. Nothing can assuage the grief of her parents. Incidentally, nothing can assuage the grief of Thomas Griffiths’ parents, who are also my constituents; they have lost their son in a very real way too. But strengthening the sentencing regime, as the Bill does, will at least mean some lasting legacy. It is, indeed, Ellie’s law.”

During Questions for the Secretary of State for Defence at the House of Commons on Monday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke out on behalf of many of his constituents who are facing eviction from their Annington Homes properties at MoD Lyneham. Before the debate, Mr Gray stated:

“It is very unfortunate that tenants occupying ex-services personnel accommodation owned by Annington Homes and leased by the MoD have been served notices to quit. I have been working alongside other Wiltshire MPs to support tenants and avoid homelessness. Together we have facilitated a dialogue between Wiltshire Council, Annington Homes and the MoD in the hopes that the properties in question would be bought by the local authority with tenants in situ”.

In the House of Commons Chamber, Mr Gray further added:

“The hundred or so families at Lyneham in my constituency who are facing eviction from Annington homes will very much welcome the Minister’s remark a moment ago that he is to extend the eviction notice period until next March. They will also be glad that there are to be negotiations with Wiltshire County Council about this, but is the Minister aware of the further complication that those homes get their utilities from within the base? Annington Homes has so far said that that would preclude them from being sold. Will he instruct officials to look into what can be done about that particular circumstance?”

​The Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, sympathised with Mr Gray’s question, responding that:

“I hope we may have found a technical solution that would enable base-dependent sites to be dealt with to allow sales to social housing providers if the parties agree. Our advice is that the transfer of supply can generally be effected relatively rapidly, and we are willing to share this advice with Annington, which will need to be satisfied that it can perform connections to mains networks safely and efficiently with tenants in situ.”

James Gray MP has welcomed the Government’s Vaccines Delivery Plan – the biggest vaccination programme in British history – as the government continues to ramp up its vaccine rollout.

Already in North Wiltshire, 33.4 per cent of the population have received a vaccine – and with the programme averaging more than 2.5 million doses a week, the Prime Minister is aiming to have offered every adult a vaccine by the end of July.

The United Kingdom is leading the way with its vaccination programme. So far, more than 18.6 million people have received a vaccine – equivalent to 1 in 3 adults. This is the third highest per capita, behind only the UAE and Israel. In addition, only two countries have administered more doses than the United Kingdom: China and the USA.

Everyone in the top four priority groups has now been offered a vaccine, as invites are now going out those in priority groups 5 to 9. The latest figures now show that two thirds of those aged 65 to 69 have now been vaccinated.

Commenting, Mr Gray said:

“The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in our country’s history, has been a fantastic success story and showcases the very best of collaboration across the entire United Kingdom. I would like to thank everyone involved in this enormous effort, without whom this would not be possible.

“It’s great to see that so many in my constituency have received the vaccine as we lead the world in our fight against coronavirus.”

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has once again been elected onto the Environmental Audit Committee. The remit of the Environmental Audit Committee is to consider the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to audit their performance against sustainable development and environmental protection targets.

Mr Gray stated:

“I am delighted to, once again, be a member of the Environmental Audit Committee. It is, I feel, one of the most important Committees in Parliament as it is crucial that we practise what we preach and enforce both environmental protection and sustainable development across departments.

I am looking forward to being involved in current inquiries into Green jobs, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Technological Innovations and Climate Change and Energy Efficiency of Existing Homes.”

Mr Gray chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions which aims to better educate Parliamentarians about the environmental dangers facing these areas and what must be done to protect them.

I am delighted to invite you to a webinar for businesses in the local area offering information about how you can grow your business by finding new international customers as well as advising what support is available to help you export.

During this session, you will receive tailored updates from HMRC and the Department for International Trade on exporting after Brexit. You will hear from panellists including a local exporter, an International Trade Adviser and an Export Finance Manager on the guidance and tools available for you to grow your business internationally, taking advantage of the new trade agreements across the world. ​  ​

Register here to join me for the first of a three-part series on exporting for businesses in Wiltshire, as part of the Parliamentary Export Programme. Partnering with the Department for International Trade, I want to ensure businesses in Wiltshire access the support on offer and understand the opportunities for growth as the UK forges its way as an independent trading nation.  ​

Click here to register: https://www.events.great.gov.uk/parliamentary-export-programme ​