Comprising the 59 parliamentary constituencies in the counties of Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire together with the unitary authorities of Stoke-on-Trent and The Wrekin.
At the 1997 general election Labour won 43 seats, the Conservatives 14 and the Liberal Democrats one. In addition the Speaker was re-elected in West Bromwich West following a challenge only by minor party candidates.
The West Midlands region has often been seen as England's electoral cockpit. It encompasses important industrial and manufacturing centres, affluent and leafy suburbs, and unspoilt rural acres.
Labour and the Conservatives, at least, have reliable areas of strength, but the voters also swing with the national mood. The Conservatives lost 17 seats -more than half their previous total- in 1997. The Liberal Democrats come a poor third in most constituencies.