My Lords, with the leave of the House, I offer my sincere apologies to the noble Baroness, Lady Lister, for my discourtesy in not being in my place to answer her Question on a very important matter at the beginning of Questions.
During the five years in which it has been my privilege to answer Questions from this Dispatch Box on behalf of the Government, I have always believed that we should rise to the highest possible standards of courtesy and respect in responding to the legitimate questions of the legislature. I am thoroughly ashamed at not having been in my place, and therefore I shall be offering my resignation to the Prime Minister with immediate effect.
I hope the noble Baroness the Leader of the House and the noble Lord the Chief Whip will have heard the House. An apology from the noble Lord, Lord Bates, is perfectly sufficient.
It was a minor discourtesy, of which any of us can be guilty on occasion.