The Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire, James Gray joined, George Croxford, Ralph Plummer and Tim Gilson, the Head Teachers of Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, Abbeyfield School and Malmesbury School this Wednesday, to meet with Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Education. Together they highlighted the issues currently facing North Wiltshire schools, specifically the difficulties caused by PFI, as well as focusing on school funding.

James Gray MP said:

“It was great to welcome the Head Teachers from local North Wiltshire Schools to Parliament to discuss the pressures that schools are currently facing. All three of these schools are outstanding; they deliver excellent results and produce well-rounded young adults. It is only right that they are provided with the resources they need to continue this excellent work.

I thought it was a productive meeting, and I was glad that the Head Teachers had an opportunity to share their concerns with the Minister. I will ask officials at the Department of Education to look into the specific PFI issues raised.”

Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Education had previously written to James about this issue, and stated that:

“While there is more money going into our schools than ever before, we recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and that we are asking them to do more. Spending plans beyond 2019-20 will be set at the next Spending Review, and whilst we cannot pre-empt these decisions, we are committed to securing the right deal for education.”

James Gray MP has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, asking him to encourage the reform mental healthcare in the UK. In the letter, James gave his support for the Child Mental Health Charter, and supported the calls upon the Government to make this the blueprint for new Mental Health legislation in 2019.

James Gray MP stated:

“I am glad to have been able to support this initiative which seeks to support the emotional well-being and mental health of children. Action is needed to tackle the stigma and discrimination that people with mental health problems experience in the provision of healthcare services. We need to recognise that mental health is just as important as physical health and should be treated as such.

It was fantastic that this Charter provides such a well thought out and thorough approach to the provision of mental health care services, that can go some way to supporting both the children, and their parents and carers. I truly hope that the Government will carry out the Prime Minister’s pledge to reform mental health legislation soon, as it is an extremely important issue.”

The Child Mental Health Charter was announced on the 15th March 2019, and it focuses on the needs of children and their emotional well-being. The Charter calls upon the Government to bring forward Mental Health legislation in 2019 following the Prime Minister’s November 2018 pledge to reform the 1983 Mental Health Act. Mrs May’s vision for a new NHS plan affirmed that resources from a total investment of £2.3bn would be allocated to support 350,000 children and young people living with mental health conditions, and offers an opportunity for Parliament to act now to make a positive difference in the lives of children and their families.

During Prime Minister’s Questions at the House of Commons on Wednesday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke up for those who volunteer in society and provide our communities with much needed emergency and support services. Mr Gray said:

“I know that the whole House will join the Prime Minister in thanking the emergency services and the armed services when they step up to the mark at times of national or local emergency such as the mosque outrage or the Novichok incident in Salisbury, near my constituency, but will she also do what she has done throughout her time as Prime Minister and pay tribute to a vast army of other people—the volunteers in our society who do so much for us? I am thinking particularly of the Royal British Legion, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the Red Cross, and, especially on this important day in its life, the Order of St John and St John Ambulance. Those are truly the big society.”

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, supported Mr Gray’s question, responding that:

“My hon. Friend is absolutely right. So much of what happens in our country—so much that is good in our country—does indeed depend on volunteers up and down the country, including those in the organisations that my hon. Friend has mentioned, and those in other community groups and charities too. We should celebrate the work that volunteers do, we should commend them for their work, and, above all, we should say a wholehearted thank you.”

During Questions for the Secretary of Defence at the House of Commons on Monday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray spoke up for the Armed Forces, and highlighted the need for the service men and women to receive a fair level of pay. Mr Gray stated:

“Rates of pay have an important role to play in retention and recruitment, particularly perhaps among the younger, newly recruited members. What consideration has my right hon. Friend given to introducing the concept of the living wage to our Armed Forces?”

​The Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mordaunt agreed with Mr Gray’s point, responding that:

“I think that that is what we should be doing. Our Armed Forces have been exempt from that, so I have said that we must do it. It would mean a pay increase of a couple of thousand pounds for the lowest paid soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, but I think that that is what we should be doing. That is certainly my policy.”

After the debate, James Gray added:

“Our Armed Forces are among the most extraordinarily talented and hardworking people in our society. I am proud of the fact that we have the most professional and effective Armed Forces in the world. We need to ensure that that the overall package they receive reflects the value we place on their work, and this is what I will be working hard to achieve in Parliament.”

On Wednesday, North Wiltshire MP James Gray attended a Greenpeace Parliamentary reception, organised to spread awareness about the impact of plastic pollution on our rivers and wildlife.

At the event, MPs and guests heard from some inspiring speakers, including Steve Backshall and Amy Meek from ‘Kids Against Plastic,’ about the key changes they want to see for the environment. They also highlighted the negative impact of single use plastics, and the need for a solution which goes further than recycling alone.

After the event James Gray MP said that:

“I was extremely pleased to have attended this Greenpeace event to highlight the negative impact that plastic has on our environment and learn more about how we can address the problems of plastic pollution. I have pledged to support a meaningful Environment Bill to help restore nature and support our wildlife. Action needs to be taken to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management. Parliament needs to work to achieve these goals.”

Before the event, Greenpeace crossed the UK with scientists and wildlife experts, to carry out the biggest ever survey of plastic in our inland waters. All 13 rivers tested contained micro-plastics and they found a total of 1,271 pieces of plastic, ranging in size from straw and bottle-top fragments to tiny microbeads less than 1mm across, demonstrating the need for action.