A Tory peer who said that child benefit changes would encourage poor people to breed has issued a grovelling apology.

New Conservative peer Howard Flight told the London Evening Standard: “We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive.

“But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that’s not very sensible.”

An outcry has ensued and David Cameron urged him to apologise at the same time as rejecting calls to block his peerage.

Flight has now said he would like to withdraw his “poor people breeding” comment and has issued an “unreserved” apology.

Labour has been quick to brand Flight’s comments “shameful”, saying they show the Tories are out of touch with people.

Only a week ago Tory former cabinet minister Lord Young resigned as an unpaid business adviser to David Cameron after saying most Britons “had never had it so good” during the “so-called recession”.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Douglas Alexander said: “These shameful but revealing comments cast serious doubt over David Cameron’s judgement in personally appointing Howard Flight to the House of Lords only a few days ago.

“Last week one of the prime minister’s senior advisers told us we’d never had it so good and now his latest hand-picked peer comes out with these comments.”

In 2005, Flight was axed as a Conservative candidate in the general election after he was recorded saying the party would make deeper than publicly admitted cuts if it was returned to power.

Last week Flight was named by the prime minister as one of more than 20 new Tory peers.

Despite his comments about the dangers of encouraging poor people to “breed” the peer is unlikely to have his peerage blocked.

Flight told Sky News: “My remarks were taken out of context. I have nothing further to say.”