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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 at The Springfields Academy

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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 visiting RAF Brize Norton and inspecting the A400M.

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Who takes Britain to War?

Who-Takes-Britain-to-War-book-coverWho-Takes-Britain-to-War-flier

2014-09-17-scottish-referendumThe Scottish Referendum is an event with such seismic consequences that it is hard to think of anything else. However, by the time you read this the die will have been cast in one of three ways. A clear ‘Yes’ would be a disaster for the whole of the UK. A clear ‘No’ (let’s say 60/40) must be binding on all parties and put a final end to the Independence for Scotland nonsense. A marginal win for the ‘No’ campaign would be a nightmare, and lead to all kinds of further calls for powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Now I do NOT agree with the ‘Devo Max’ proposals which the three party leaders seem to be offering. Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want, and we would be back with calls for independence within a decade or sooner. But if it is deemed that these foolish proposals have to be taken forward because of the strength of feeling demonstrated in the campaign and in the results of the referendum, then I will go along with it only if the imbalance between England and Scotland is at the same time corrected. The West Lothian question, the English Question lies unanswered on the table, and as an MP for an English constituency (albeit personally a Scot by background), I will demand that it must now be addressed.

For too long, Scottish MPs have voted on English matters. That must be ended. Scotland would be massively over-represented at Westminster. Their MPs must be culled appropriately. And the Barnett Formula, under which every Scottish citizen gets £1500 per year more spent on him/her than their English counterpart must be swept away with no delay. We want greater powers for the long-suffering people of England. As G.K. Chesterton said “Smile at us, pass us; but do not quite forget; For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.”

The two spitfire pilots we remembered at the unveiling of their handsome memorial in Seagry would have understood. The sheer Englishness of the Archbishop of Canterbury immersing candidates for baptism outside Malmesbury Abbey on Saturday spoke to it. The Supper Club at the outstandingly good Wellesley Arms in Sutton Benger (the Duke of Wellington would have known what to say); the self-help café opening in Purton on Sunday, the sponsored walk round Charlton Park, the hunt ball near Melksham - these are the deeply, deeply English events which have filled up my last weekend.

The Scots have had their say. At the time of writing I have no idea what the outcome will be. But of one thing I am sure. For too long the rights and interests of the 55 million people of England have been subordinated to the shouting of 4.5 million Scots. That must end. Now is the time for the people of England to speak - and to be heeded.

2013-08-08-planning

To most normal people for most of the time, Planning is a pretty dry subject. But then when it comes up and hits you, it’s like a knockout blow from a professional boxer. It ought to be designed and executed to give local people the environment and living conditions they want to live in. If we wanted to live in London- or Swindon, or Bristol - we would do just that. The people of North Wilshire want to live in a rural area, in picturesque villages and pleasant market towns.

Now of course we need houses – especially low-cost housing to rent for local people. Of course we need factories and jobs and improved infrastructure. And most people who live in this area actually live in houses built in the last 50 years or so. So we must not be NIMBY, far less BANANA. (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.) But we are perfectly entitled to fight to keep the area as we like it.

The people of East Tytherton and Bremhill, Langley Burrell and Kington Langley, for example, are fighting a doughty battle to prevent Chippenham spilling over to engulf their villages and countryside. It is hard to imagine why the Planning Inspector concluded that we need 2500 houses more than were previously planned, and I hope he can find somewhere else to put them rather than virgin green-belt surrounding Chippenham.

Even more illogical is the current talk of allowing a huge retail and distribution centre called The Range to the West of the Chippenham by-pass. Surely if there is any natural boundary to the town, it ought to be the soon-to-be dualled bypass. What possible reason could there be for this unwanted, and hideously ugly development in the countryside. “As a boost to the local economy,” they say, “and to provide 1000 new jobs.” Actually, it’s so that this London-based developer can make loads of money out of desecrating our countryside. In July, there were 582 unemployed people in the whole of the North Wiltshire constituency. That is 1.3% of the working population, the 564th lowest of the 650 constituencies in the UK.

An even dafter argument is now beginning to emerge. Because we have to have all these unwanted houses, some people are saying, we had better allow unwanted development in the countryside to give them all jobs. That, of course ignores the fact that very few of the purchasers of the £250,000 plus houses proposed for Chippenham will actually want to work in the Range Retail distribution centre. That argument is a self-licking lollipop if ever there was one.

And why is that despite explicit central government direction that solar farms should NOT now be on agricultural land some planners at Wiltshire Council seem gleefully intent on allowing them? We simply don’t need these eyesores in our countryside on some imagined and gimmicky green-energy kick. We can get all the green energy need from nuclear without ruining our countryside in this way.

So let’s wake up. Houses, factories, solar farms. Once built they will never go away again. We don’t need them here. We like the place pretty much just like it is.

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...

More news

21 August 2014, 10.08
Overseas Aid
Parliament is deep in its Summer Recess, and domestic politics is very much taking second place to world events. I was glad to welcome the Prime Minister down to Kemble Airfield last Thursday. He helicoptered in and then back to London in time to chair a meeting of the Cobra Committee at 12 to discuss the situation in Iraq. (‘Cobra’ sounds dramatic with images of snakes ready to strike and so on. It is the Whitehall bunker in which Minsters ...
14 August 2014, 15.56
James Gray welcomes the Prime Minister to the UK Aid depot at Kemble
“I was delighted that the Prime Minister came down to North Wiltshire this morning to see the fantastic work which the DFID UK Aid base are doing in supplying vital humanitarian relief in Iraq,” said North Wiltshire MP James Gray after visiting the UK Aid Disaster Response Centre at Kemble Airport this morning. “Many local people work on the former RAF base, and I am immensely proud that my constituents are making this vital contribution to...
14 August 2014, 14.28
Retired Wiltshire Lieutenant Colonel who raises millions for Cadets and Reservists is awarded by Prime Minister
An unsung hero from Malmesbury who founded a charity that gives expedition grants to thousands of Cadets and Reservists is the winner of a new volunteering award, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced. The Ulysses Trust, founded by retired Lieutenant Colonel Philip Neame, has fundraised to provided £2 million of grants and supported more than 20,000 Cadets and Reservists to undertake over 1,800 expeditions across the globe. In recognition o...
14 August 2014, 08.30
War and Peace
I’m just back from a fascinating - if rather gritty - walking and climbing expedition with my friend and Box constituent David Hempleman-Adams in the Altai Mountains in Siberia. We were private guests of a mutual friend in this, one of the remotest places on the globe, just where Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China meet. Refreshing and invigorating, if not exactly most people’s idea of a holiday. Yet even here, the talk amongst the guides...

Constituency Surgeries

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Saturday
6
th September
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
 
Saturday
20
th September
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
 
Saturday
4
th October
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
 
Saturday
18
th October
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
 
Saturday
15
th November
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
 
Saturday
29
th November
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
 
Saturday
6
th December
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
 
Saturday
10
th January
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
 
Saturday
17
th January
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
 
Saturday
7
th February
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
 
Saturday
21
st February
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ
 
Saturday
14
th March
10:00am-11:30am Corn Exchange, Town Hall, The Strand, Calne, SN11 0EN
12noon-1pm Civic Centre, Station Road, Royal Wootton Bassett, SN4 7DZ
 
Saturday
21
st March
10am-11:30am Jenner Hall, Bath Road, Cricklade, SN6 6AT
12pm-1pm Hobbes Parlour, Town Hall, Cross Hayes, Malmesbury, SN16 9BZ

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