An MP fiercely opposed to the hunting ban is to take command of the Government department in charge of the countryside, it was announced in David Cameron's reshuffle.
Owen Paterson will take over as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) from Caroline Spelman, leaving his post as Northern Ireland Secretary.
Mr Paterson, Tory MP for rural North Shropshire, described the Hunting Act passing into law in 2004 as a "sad day for the House of Commons". A date is unknown for a promised Commons vote on repealing the fox hunting ban, an incendiary issue in the Westcountry. Mr Paterson also campaigned for a badger cull to tackle tuberculosis in cattle, which is rife in the South West.
Meanwhile, North Devon Lib Dem MP Nick Harvey was sacked as Armed Forces Minister, Yeovil Lib Dem MP David Laws ended a two-year government exile, Taunton Deane Lib Dem MP Jeremy Browne was moved to the Home Office and Somerton and Frome Lib Dem MP David Heath was appointed a Defra minister.