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BIOGRAPHY

James Gray MP

James Gray was first elected as MP for North Wiltshire in May 1997.  He was educated at Hillhead Primary School and Glasgow High School and later read History at Glasgow University and Christ Church, Oxford. More recently he was a visiting Parliamentary Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford and is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies.

After his election to Parliament in 1997, James served as a Conservative Whip and then as a Shadow Minister for Defence. He served as Shadow Minister for the Countryside and after the 2005 General Election briefly as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. James now serves as a Member of Mr Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen.

James’s military interest includes seven years in the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the Army Reserve, on whose Court of Assistants he also served from 2002 to 2007, and of whose Saddle Club he is life Vice-President. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme and of the Royal College of Defence Studies. In 2010, James founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, which he has chaired since. In 2013, James became founding Chairman of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust, which seconds up to 35 Parliamentarians a year to the three services. He has sat on the Defence Committee and the Committee on Arms Export Controls. Following the 2017 election, James was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.

He has a particular interest in the Polar Regions, having travelled in both. James is a member of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), Chair of the EAC Sub-Committee on Polar Research, and is also Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions. James was a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and a Younger Brother of Trinity House.

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About James

Before entering Parliament, James’s career was in business. He worked for P&O, latterly as one of their shipbrokers on the Baltic Exchange, when he was also made a Freeman of the City of London. He helped devise the means for trading bulk shipping as a futures commodity, and wrote several books about it. After 15 years in the City, he became Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Howard, and his successor John Gummer.

James is Patron of Operation Christmas Box which is a registered charity, providing Christmas Boxes full of presents the nation to all those serving unaccompanied overseas in the UK Armed Forces away from their families and loved ones on Christmas Day.

James has published several books including: Futures and Options for Shipping (Lloyds of London Book Prize), Crown vs Parliament (RCDS prize), Poles Apart (2014), Who Takes Britain to War? (2016), ‘Full English Brexit’ (2018) and most recently ‘Wiltshire to Westminster’ (2020).

He and his wife Philippa live on a farm in North Wiltshire.

Operation Christmas Box

Biography

James in Parliament

Alongside his chairmanship of several All Party Parliamentary Groups and the Environmental Audit Committee sub-committee, James sits on the procedure committee. He is also a member of the Speakers Panel of Chairman giving him the ability to preside over debates in Westminster Hall when the Speaker or one of his deputies are not available.

When he isn’t chairing proceedings he is actively participating in them, speaking in debates, voting on legislation and questioning ministers about the issues that matter most to people in our area. In the last session of Parliament James has spoken on a whole range of issues including Solar, Defence and Asylum Accommodation as well as raising individual constituents issues on the floor of the House of Commons.

James likes to welcome constituents to Parliament for tours and to watch the proceedings of Parliament. If you are interested in a tour please just contact us!

Biography

Armed Forces

The Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust

James has Chaired the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust for 10 years and has grown the Trust, pushing for better military education for Members of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and others in military matters.

James has Chaired the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust for 10 years and has hugely grown the Trust, pushing for better military education for Members of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and others in military matters.

The aim of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme is to give Members, the vast majority of whom have no experience of our Armed Forces, an insight into military life that would not otherwise be available to them. It is then hoped that they will be able to make a more informed and useful contribution to defence debates in their respective Houses.

Observers in Parliament, the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces agree that the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme has been an enormous success and that the level of understanding of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces is significantly higher as a direct result of the Scheme.

The APPG for Armed Forces

In 2010, James founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces, which he has chaired since with the help of a wide range of Parliamentarians which form the officers and membership.

The APPG for the Armed Forces seeks to provide information for MPs and Peers about the work of our armed forces. We do so via briefings in the House of Commons which are held on average twice a month with military speakers from one of the single services (Army, Navy, RAF) who will speak and then hold open conversations to expand military knowledge in Parliament and support understanding of the armed forces and international affairs.

The APPG also arrange other military events, we have held many ‘Welcome Homes’ for our troops returning from operations overseas (such as a reception in the Speaker’s House to Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands Campaign).

James welcomes troops home from Operations, above joined by Rt Hon Theresa May

Biography

EAC and Polar Regions APPG

Environmental Audit Committee

James is a member of the Environmental Audit Committee's, which has an extensive remit. The Committee's aim 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.

Unlike most select committees, the Committee's remit cuts across government rather than focuses on the work of a particular department. From its beginning in 1997, in carrying out its environmental 'audit' role the Committee has had extensive support from the National Audit Office, providing seconded staff and research and briefing papers.

Sub-Committee on Polar Research:

James also Chairs the Sub-Committee on Polar Research was appointed by the Environmental Audit Committee in January 2023 to consider the contribution of UK science to understanding climate and environmental change in the polar regions.

It supports the overall work of the Environmental Audit Committee in considering the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development insofar as they support scientific research into the causes and effects of climate and environmental change in the polar regions.
The Sub-Committee will build on the work in this area undertaken by the Environmental Audit Committee in previous Parliaments, notably through reports on Protecting the Arctic (September 2012) and The Changing Arctic (November 2018) and have now started an inquiry on the Antarctica.

James lead the Environmental Audit Sub-Committee on Polar Research during evidence gathering visit to Antarctica
APPG for Polar Regions

As Chair of the APPG for Polar Regions, James has been a passionate advocate for the Polar Regions and the UK’s continued active presence in both the Arctic and Antarctic since visiting the Northern Arctic for the first time with Sir David Hempleman-Adams. This led him to set up the APPG for the Polar Regions in 2015, which he continues to Chair as well founding the Antarctic Parliamentarians Association and being a consistent and prominent voice in Parliament on all polar matters.

The APPG for the Polar Regions Exists to;- Keep the UK Parliament informed about the polar regions and polar activities- To be a non-political source of information, advice and knowledge for the UK Parliament and UK Parliamentarians- To advocate for greater UK involvement and interest in polar research, polar governance and polar environments.

The APPG hosts regular meetings and events in Parliament, some of which are open to non-Parliamentarians, on a very broad range of issues. The group also conducts overseas expeditions to the polar regions to ensure Parliamentarians meet and understand the communities that live there, the issues that impact them and the political landscape. It also gives Parliamentarians the opportunity to understand why the Polar Regions are such unique environments and why they need protecting.

Working together with the British Antarctic Survey, the APPG for the Polar Regions hosted an evening event to celebrate the opening of the exhibition in Portcullis House showing the first voyage of the RRS Sir David Attenborough to Antarctica.


Biography


News

James' Weekly Column

James Gray, CStJ MP is a British politician who has served as the Conservative Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire since 1997. He has been writing a weekly column almost ever since.

  • North Wiltshire, Westminster & the wider public
  • Insight into Parliament, Westminster & the Conservative Party
Read Weekly Columns
North Wiltshire, Stourmead
1
Wiltshire to Westminster: Blair, Brown and Cameron (Part 1)

A few good friends suggested that they would like to have a collection of my Columns over the years since 1997.  So I have put together a (heavily edited) collection and had them printed. Volume 1 covers 'Blair, Brown and Cameron’ (BBC1), and Volume 2 covers 'Boris Brexit and Covid’ (BBC2).

2
Wiltshire to Westminster: Boris, Brexit and Covid (Part 2)

If you would like a copy, perhaps as a stocking filler, drop me an email with your name and address, transfer some funds, or send me a cheque, and I will do my very bet to get them to you in good time for Christmas. It's £6 each or £10 for the two. That does little more than cover the costs, but if there is any profit from it then it will go to charity. Something to dip into over Christmas.

3
Full English Brexit

Whether we like it or not, Brexit will happen at 11pm on 29 March 2019. That much is sure, and is what the people voted for in a free and fair Referendum. What is less clear, and something which only the bravest of soothsayers would have a shot at predicting, is what Britain will be like after that.

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  • Member, Mr Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen
  • Chairman, All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces
  • Chairman, Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust
  • Chairman, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions
  • Convenor, Antarctic Parliamentarians Assembly 2019, 2021
  • Patron, Operation Christmas Box
  • Member, Commons Procedure Committee
  • Member, Environmental Audit Committee
  • Chair, EAC Sub Committees on Arctic and Antarctic
  • Member, Advisory Board, Council of Geostrategy
  • Commander, Order of St John
  • President, Chippenham Constitutional Club
  • Freeman of the City of London
  • Younger Brother, Trinity House
  • Veteran Member, Honourable Artillery Company
  • Member, Royal Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
  • Author, Poles Apart (2014); Who Takes Britain to War (2016) ; Full English Brexit (2018) and Wiltshire to Westminster (2020)