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MPs argue over industrial past; Jon Walker BIRMINGHAM MAIL POLITICAL EDITOR.

Byline: Jon Walker

CIVIC pride was on display as MPs fought over which constituency had the right to call itself the home of the Industrial Revolution.

The disagreement took place as MPs discussed manufacturing in the West Midlands.

It began when Dudley MP Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) insisted: "It is no exaggeration to say that Dudley has had a bigger impact than anywhere else in the country on the development of Britain's economy. Dudley lit the spark that fired the industrial revolution and changed not just Dudley and the Black Country, but Britain and the whole of the world."

But Black Country MP John Spellar (Lab Warley) said: "My honourable friend is of course entitled to make his case but, as the MP for Smethwick, which contains the Soho works of James Watt and Matthew Boulton, I think that his proposition is, at the very least, contestable."

Mr Austin responded: "The Industrial Revolution was triggered by learning to smelt iron ore with coke, which enabled the production of cast iron in sufficient quantities, and that happened first in Gornal in my constituency, so it is absolutely true that it started in Dudley."

At least both men could agree that the Industrial Revolution began in the Midlands. US President Barack Obama, in a visit to Britain in 2011, insisted it began in Manchester.

SUTTON Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell is getting back in the saddle following his Cabinet resignation.

The MP has spoken in the Commons for the first time since resigning as Chief Whip in October. He spoke as the PM made his statement on the hostage crisis in Algeria and the terrorism threat in North Africa.

Mr Mitchell (Con) asked David Cameron: "Does he agree that the terrible events in Algeria underline the critical importance for the international community of tackling the root causes of poverty, instability and conflict in west Africa? Britain has been doing that in east Africa, not least in Somalia, where some progress seems at last to have been made."

The question suggests Mr Mitchell continues to take an interest in overseas aid - the area for which he used to be responsible as International Development Secretary.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 23, 2013
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