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James Gray MP

James with the Prime Minister visiting the UK Aid Disaster Response Centre at Kemble Airport

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James Gray MP

James at The Springfields Academy

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James Gray MP

James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation

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James Gray MP

James visiting RAF Brize Norton and inspecting the A400M.

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Who takes Britain to War?


2014-11-27-time-capsuleThe Jenner Hall in Cricklade set me a real challenge last weekend.

Robert Jenner was the MP for the area around the time of the Civil War, and left money in his will to build a school ‘for the teaching only of Latin’, and £20 a year for the schoolmaster’s salary. Thanks to some very hard work by local people, especially in recent years, that school still stands, is in pretty good shape, and now provides a lovely community hall. I hold my surgeries there at least partly in memory of my predecessor of 350 years ago.

Anyhow, they decided to seal a time capsule in the loft to be rediscovered and opened in a hundred years’ time, and invited me to leave a letter to whoever is then MP for Cricklade. It was fun to scribble down my half-formed thoughts about life and politics in 21st Century England, and to imagine our descendants poring over it in 2114.

My historic links to Cricklade go back to my days at Oxford, forty years ago, when my thesis was about a chap called Robert of Cricklade. He was a monk from the village, who eventually became Prior of St Frideswide’s in Oxford around 1130 AD. He was one of very earliest masters in Oxford, and so could be argued to have founded the University. When I was writing my thesis I probably barely knew where Cricklade was, and now I am privileged to represent it in Parliament.

I am immensely proud of this constituency and the many fascinating places and events in it. It was good to know that the Prime Minister was in Malmesbury on Friday visiting Dyson - whose £1.5 billion investment in design and engineering will do so much for the whole of the West Country. It is great to know that soldiers from IX Regiment at Hullavington where I enjoyed a curry lunch with the RSM last week, are amongst those incredibly brave people who have voluntarily deployed to West Africa to help beat Ebola. And several local companies and people played key roles in the European Space Agency's remarkable achievement of landing their Philae lander on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Business, agriculture, the military, high tech industries and so much more. We have a great deal to be proud of in this wonderful area. And I hope that when my successor as MP in 2114 opens the Jenner Hall time capsule, he or she will be able to be just as proud of the area and its diverse and wonderful achievements as I am.

houses-of-parliament-2394What a pleasure it was to meet the four newly-appointed candidates for the other parties in the (fairly imminent) General Election. The nice Labour school-teacher from Box is hopeful of securing second place; the Lib Dem candidate from Yatton Keynell thinks he will buck the polls; I welcome back the decent Green Party candidate who also stood at the last election; and UKIP have selected a lady from Devizes. Good luck to her too. I look forward to engaging in civilised debate about the great issues of the day as soon as the campaign kicks off next April 1st, but, for the sake of the sanity of you the electorate, will resist any such debates prior to that. Such discussions are the lifeblood of democracy, and I relish them.

I will hope that my long record as a hard-working, outspoken, sometimes rebellious, constituency MP who has no interest in life other than the good of the people of North Wiltshire will stand me personally in good stead. But the fact of the matter is that much as we would like to tell ourselves that we have a ‘strong personal following,’ elections are decided not on the individual characteristics of the candidate, but on TV-carried impressions of the parties and what they will do for you, the voters. That is one reason why I never mention the other candidates, certainly never attack them personally in any way. They are all good people of decent conviction and I respect and salute them for their determination to engage in the political process. I hope that they will share this mutual respect and abhorrence of personal attacks, and focus with me purely on the issues.

The long Remembrance period continues for me. During this anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War I am trying to visit all 55 cemeteries in North Wiltshire which contain 209 war graves all told, where possible accompanied by local school students. So far I have visited Corston, Stanton St Quintin, Crudwell, both Holy Trinity and Curzon Street, Calne; Sherston, Bradenstoke, and Lyneham; and tomorrow will be in Brinkworth, Hilmarton, Ashton Keynes and Cricklade; and have plans for Colerne and elsewhere soon. I will report back with my progress.

Jonty Conway in Calne read his most lovely poem “For all who Forgot,” the second verse reading:

“For those who were invaded, for those whose lives have faded;

They will never forget the sights they saw, forever remembering the sound of war;

They lost so much, they lived with death, they gave their all with every breath;

We thank you Lord for all, especially those who had to fall.”

Latest from the Chamber

Energy and Climate Change: Energy Efficiency - 27/02/2014
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): One of the groups most deserving of benefit, from the warm home scheme in particular, are those who live in park homes, of which we have many in North W...
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Food Adulteration - 07/03/2013
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): Cross-contamination by horsemeat in every part of the United Kingdom could be stopped if we prevented the killing of horses in multi-species abattoirs. ...
Statement: Army Basing Plan - 05/03/2013
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): I very much welcome the extra stability that the announcement will make in the lives of service personnel and their families. The people of Wiltshire wi...

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Did you know that 46 words from the start of Psalm 46 is the word “Shake” and 46 words from its end is the word “Spear.” And in 1610/11, the Bard was indeed 46 years old. Intriguing if inconclusive, perhaps. 46 is the famous Psalm “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…..” Curiously enough, that is one of 365 times in the Bible we are enjoined not to be afraid, as the lovely new vi...
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MP welcomes changes to Armed Forces Pension Scheme
North Wiltshire MP James Gray has welcomed the Defence Secretary’s announcement that, from 1 April 2015, widows, widowers and surviving civil partners of all members of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme will now retain their pensions for life. Mr Gray said: “I am so pleased that military personnel and their families have been recognised in this way. The Armed Forces Covenant is a key commitment of this Government and this change will ensure tha...
06 November 2014, 17.05
James Gray MP joins Parliament’s veterans to record support for the Armed Forces
North Wiltshire MP James Gray joined around 30 other MPs, all of whom had either served or continue to serve in our Armed Forces, to take part in an act of Remembrance ahead of Sunday’s official national commemorations.  With the MPs drawn from across a number of parties, the Guards Chapel in London’s Wellington Barracks provided a fitting setting for the MPs to pay their respects to those who had died in the two World Wars and conflicts...

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