Secretary of state Margaret Beckett amused the assembled throng with repartee on the subject of import control, after being presented with a box of unidentifiable meat. It had been bought by a delegate at a pet shop in West Sussex. Gill advised Beckett not to open it as "it has rather a nasty pong". Beckett told the delegate: "Thank you for your disgusting exhibit' as you call it. Fortunately I have a man who carries these things for me."
European agriculture commissioner Franz Fischler, jet-lagged from the WTO talks in Tokyo, drew praise from Gill for his linguistic aptitude. "When I first met him he hardly spoke a word of English," Gill recalled.
Fischler retorted by asking if the decision to hold the conference outside London was "a contribution to international development from the NFU".