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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Douglas Hogg: Roasted over BSE
Douglas Hogg: Minister for Agriculture 1995 - 1997
Douglas Hogg, criticised from the day he was appointed Minister for Agriculture in 1995, faced condemnation for his handling of the BSE crisis.

Like John Gummer, Hogg declared that he was keen for his children to eat British beef. At the time the government was repeating assurances there was no evidence that BSE could spread to people in the form of new variant CJD.

But by the time BSE became a major issue in 1996 Hogg was hated by farmers as the architect of the crisis. "Cull Hogg" was regularly seen on placards waved by farmers protesting about the EU ban on British beef.

Vegetarian award

Hogg also was also criticised by the press and consumers, as well as by many of his senior colleagues for acting too slowly in the crisis.

Fond of wearing large Fedora hats, the Eton-educated Hogg was often lampooned by the newspapers for what was percieved as his lack of a clear policy on the crisis - "Hogg Roast" declared The Sunday Times at the head of one of its attacks.

In 1997 Hogg was awarded a certificate of merit by the Vegetarian Society which said his handling of the beef crisis had led to a leap in the number of vegetarians.

Hogg advice 'ignored'

But speaking at the BSE inquiry Hogg said the government had ignored his recommendations on banning the sale of beef from older cattle once possible links between BSE and CJD became known in March 1996.

Hogg said he wanted to make an early announcement regarding the developments, proposing a ban on the sale of all beef and beef products from cows over the age of two and a half years.

"My cabinet colleagues did not endorse my recommendations and consequently the measures set out in my statement to the House of Commons of March 20 (1996) fell short of what I regarded as desirable.

"Most of my recommendations subsequently became, and remain, the central plank of government policy," he said.

Although there were many people willing to criticise Hogg while he was in office, few would have wanted to take over as minister of agriculture at the height of the BSE crisis.

Douglas Hogg remains Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham in Lincolnshire.


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