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Junior minister defends Douglas Hogg

A junior minister yesterday rushed to defend Douglas Hogg, the embattled Minister of Agriculture, during a Commons debate on a motion censuring him for "mishandling" the beef crisis. Replying to a Liberal Democrat charge that 60,000 cows - the latest addition to the cull - would be "wantonly sacrificed, just to save Hogg's bacon", Tony Baldry said his minister had "worked flat out" to try and resolve the crisis and secure a future for the beef industry.

Speculation on Mr Hogg's future as a Cabinet minister has been rife in Westminster, but Mr Baldry said he was honourable man who had "remained above personal attacks and mudslinging".