Non-Cabinet ministers don’t come more senior than the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.  Mark Hoban served in the post during the first half or so of this Coalition Government, and was thus deeply involved in the major scaleback of public spending increases that George Osborne delivered at the Treasury.  He then moved to help run the Work Programme under Iain Duncan Smith.  In short, Hoban is an able and knowledgeable former Minister – a classic public servant.

And now he, too, is to leave the Commons: his announcement follows shortly after that of another capable Minister, Hugh Roberston.  I spoke to Chris Grayling earlier this morning, who said: “This is a sad day for the Party and indeed the country.  Mark is a really brilliant MP, was a fine Minister – and will be a real loss to the Commons.  He is a great friend, and I will miss him very much.”

I repeat the litany.  David Willetts is standing down at the next election. He is 58.  So Andrew Lansley. He is also 58.  So is William Hague. He is 53.  Sir Hugh is 52. Greg Barker is the youngest to go to date at 48. Hoban is 50.  People of ability are quitting and the pool of experience is shrinking.  Who will be next?

Hoban’s majority in his Fareham constituency in 2010 was 17,092.