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  1. ITV Report

Wilson and Wharton in House of Commons row

Stockton South MP James Wharton (left) with Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis at the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe Photo: James Wharton

A turf war broke out in the House of Commons this afternoon between two neighbouring MPs in the North East.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson accused Stockton South's James Wharton of visiting Mr Wilson's constituency without notifying him first.

On Monday, James Wharton had accompanied the Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis to the site of the new Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe. Under parliamentary convention, MPs are expected to tell colleagues if they plan to go on an official visit to a constituency other than their own.

But Phil Wilson says he had no such notification from either James Wharton or the Minister. The Stockton South MP said he was only 'dropping off' Brandon Lewis, and denies taking part in an official visit. However, yesterday he tweeted a picture of himself at the site.

Adjudicating between the two MPs, the Speaker John Bercow said MPs should obey the spirit of the rules, especially in the run up to the general election.

Watch the House of Commons row:

What's really going on here is not a turf war over constituencies, but over Hitachi...

Who wouldn't want to claim credit for a brand new train-building factory, creating 730 jobs in our region?

Situated in Newton Aycliffe, the site falls within Phil Wilson's Labour-held Sedgefield constituency, but is tantalisingly close to Stockton South, where James Wharton is defending a tiny Conservative majority.

The pair have history, quibbling over which party really sealed the deal and brought Hitachi's investment. When Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis visited yesterday to promise government cash to build new road and power links to the site, the row flared up again.

In recent years, the coalition government have nurtured the site, regularly announcing new deals with Hitachi and new measures to attract other businesses. But Labour argue they were the ones who laid the foundations for all this in 2009.

Normally rules don't apply in politics - everything is fair game. But here, there are some conventions. It is considered proper procedure for MPs to tell each other about visits to constituencies other than their own. There are disagreements about whether or not James Wharton really was on a 'visit'. But either way, the Speaker has spoken, telling MPs that they should stick to the rules, particularly in the run up to the general election.