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PM rejects bid by peer who quit the Lords.

Byline: Nick Lester Reporter

AGOVERNMENT minister dramatically resigned at the despatch box before walking straight out of the Lords chamber.

International development minister Lord Bates told peers he was "offering his resignation" to the Prime Minister after saying he was "thoroughly ashamed for failing to be in his place to respond to a question from a peer".

Cries of "no!" could be heard as Lord Bates, originally from Gateshead, announced his departure.

Lord Bates had been listed to respond to a question from Labour peer Baroness Lister of Burtersett.

He said: "With the leave of the House I wonder if you would permit me to offer my sincere apologies to Baroness Lister for my discourtesy for not being in my place to answer her question on a very important matter at the beginning of questions.

"During the five years of which it has been my privilege to answer questions from the despatch box on behalf of the Government I have always believed we should rise to the highest possible standards of courtesy and respect in responding on behalf of the Government to legitimate questions of the legislature.

"I am thoroughly ashamed at not being in my place, I therefore shall be offering my resignation."

Opposition leader in the Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon, sought to reassure the peer after his departure, saying: "An apology is sufficient for a minor discourtesy."

Lord Taylor had clearly been caught off guard at having to respond to questions from peers in the absence of Lord Bates at the start of proceedings.

While attempting to respond to questions, it was obvious to onlookers he was ill-prepared leaving some peers looking baffled with his answers.

Lord Bates's exit left former foreign secretary Lord Hague of Richmond looking slightly bemused as he prepared to open the afternoon session on day two of the marathon second reading debate on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

He told peers: "I was going to say it was a pleasure to open this debate."

Lord I am thoroughly Hague added: " I hope m y noble friend, who ashamed Lord Bates has given 20 years of strong public service, will resume his place on the frontbench."

Lord Bates returned to government in October 2016, after quitting as Home Office minister earlier that year to take part in a charity trek across South America.

He walked almost 2,000 miles from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro raising more than PS260,000 for children's charity Unicef. The walk also highlighted the Olympic truce in the run up to the Games.

Theresa May last night rejected Lord Bates' resignation hours after he dramatically quit at the despatch box. Mrs May is on a trade visit to China but No 10 said his resignation had been refused.

A spokesman said: "With typical sincerity, Lord Bates today offered to tender his resignation after missing the start of an Oral Questions session in the House of Lords, but his resignation was refused as it was judged this was unnecessary.

As a hard-working and diligent minister, it is typical of his approach that he takes his responsibilities to Parliament so seriously. He has received support from across the House and we are pleased that he has decided to continue in his important roles at the Department for International Development and HM Treasury."

I am thoroughly ashamedLord Bates


Lord Bates dramatically resigns at the despatch box at the House of Lords
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2018
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