Weekly Column

A week of Solar and Defence

Project Hero ImageProject Hero Image


Here’s a flavour of my week: -

Mon 15 April. Up to London in time for Home Office Questions (not called to speak); then an afternoon and evening debating Lords’ amendments to Rwanda proposals. We reverse them; they will then send them back to us again- ‘Parliamentary ping-pong’. Huge Iranian air raids on Israel are largely repulsed. I hope that there is no further escalation.

Tues 16 April. Meet Great Western Railway to discuss Kemble to Cirencester Light Railway, broken lift at Chippenham Station. Question to Minister for Energy about solar elicits a mildly encouraging response. Then it’s over to No10 Downing St for the Security and Defence Round-table discussions about what must go into Manifesto. ‘More than just 3% of GDP’, I argue. ‘Let’s have stuff about accommodation, education, way of life of military families’. To Mr Speaker’s grand house for BAE reception about Tempest their new super stealthy war plane. Decide to abstain on tobacco votes. Don’t believe it will work, and un-Conservative to go about banning things.

Wed 17 April. Meeting with National anti-large scale solar campaign. Gives me some very useful briefing. PMQs where Sunak lands a stinger on Starmer. PM asked about Solar and again gives a hopeful reply. Inflation down again. But I weary of PMQs- does it really add to the sum total of human happiness? Look into Environmental Audit Committee discussing the Grid; and Procedure Committee to discuss Speaker’s ruling on Opposition debates. 6 or so votes (Rwanda ping-pong, then Finance Bill Committee); back to Speaker’s House for a reception about suicide bereavements in armed forces; then to House of Lords to host a very grand dinner for the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme.

Thurs 18 April. Scrabble together a speech, then it’s out to Parliament Square to see Lime Down Solar protestors; and do a bit of media. V glad to bring Minister Andrew Bowie who gives us a few hints that there may be some changes coming to help prevent very large scale solar. 3 hour debate on the subject in Westminster Hall. Speak for 20 minutes without notes, and House seems to be listening. No Lib Dems attend, and when I point this out, Minister reminds me of their Conference commitment to make large scale solar easier and remove restrictions. Very pleased with Ministerial response. Am increasingly hopeful of changes which will stop outrageous Lime Down proposals. Meeting about Polish defence matters – so crucial in the Ukrainian effort; look in for (soft) drinks at the Royal College of Defence Studies from which I graduated 20 years ago; and finally drive back to Wilts (ETA about 1 AM pretty drained.)

Friday 19 April. Out on doorsteps campaigning for Police and Crime Commissioners – cover 8 villages in the west of my patch - lovely views down to the Severn Valley.

Sat 20 April: Out again campaigning in Dauntesy, Cricklade, Cirencester, Latton, Tetbury and Hillesley.

It’ll be other stuff next week no doubt.

Column Information
Client Icon
James Gray
Location Icon
This is some text inside of a div block.
Date Icon
Published Date
April 19, 2024