The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No.3).
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wish to correct the record of my answer yesterday to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). He is aware of this point of order.
Yesterday, I answered a question based on my honest recollection of a conversation. As I explained yesterday, I considered what I understood to be the suggestion being put to me as implausible because of the long-standing and well-regarded impartiality of the civil service. The audio of that conversation is now available, and I am glad that the record stands corrected.
In the context of that audio, I accept that I should have corrected or dismissed the premise of my hon. Friend’s question. I have apologised to Mr Charles Grant, who is an honest and trustworthy man. As I have put on record many times, I have the highest regard for our hard-working civil servants. I am grateful for this opportunity to correct the record and I apologise to the House.