News Over 200,000 people have contacted their council for help following the last cut to benefits, however councils cannot keep up with the demand

Authorities had been forced to dip into funds allocated to other services to cope with the surge in numbers of households appealing for help

Chris Bryant MP: My on-air spat with Sky News's Kay Burley

When I agreed to go on Sky News yesterday afternoon I did not even know who I would be speaking with, let alone that just minutes afterwards the clip would be posted on YouTube, shared on Twitter and I would be flooded with emails and text messages.

The Sketch: Yates has been taking lessons from the book of Blair, not Conan Doyle

Lestrade of the Yard was Conan Doyle's counterpoint for Sherlock Holmes. He hadn't any aptitude for solving crimes but reached the top of his profession by sheer tenacity. He was a bit fictional as well so he's not a complete match for Asst Commissioner John Yates. But if you want a picture of a policeman bound up in the processes of his profession and a victim of the peculiar pressures of celebrity law enforcement – here he is.

I'm sorry I misspoke, says Cameron after accusing Iran of having nuclear weapon

Having got his history of the Second World War wrong recently, David Cameron blundered over current affairs yesterday when he claimed Iran had developed a nuclear weapon.

Simon Carr: Ed Balls did a Gordon Brown impression – minus the light touch

Sketch: The two-tier system he fears could only be an improvement on the multiple tiers of deprivation and failure we currently have

The Sketch: Blair's disease starts with a smile and ends with a war

By the time Cameron said how keen he was on a "respect agenda" the heir to Blair style had become a little obtrusive. That inheritance is not without its curse, remember. Blair now has the face he deserves and God knows few of us want one of them. Cameron must be hoping to escape the full syphilitic effect of his predecessor's hereditary gift.

Minister apologises for branding Speaker John Bercow 'a stupid dwarf'

A Government minister apologised today after calling Commons Speaker John Bercow a "stupid, sanctimonious dwarf".

Simon Carr: Is Nick up to it? He thinks he is, and that's half the battle

Sketch: Now MPs are participants; for a decade they've been observers

The Sketch: The Commons elevates things you might hear in bars into wisdom

The facts have changed, and so has Vince Cable, nothing wrong with that. He is the new Lord Mandelson. No one is a greater admirer of Lord M than myself – I'm a Peterphile and proud of it, I confess it everywhere I go and ignore the looks I get.

Fears that loss of Laws will undermine confidence in coalition

The Treasury was last night attempting to reassure markets that stable and detailed plans to bring down Britain's deficit are on track despite the resignation of David Laws amid concerns that his departure will undermine financial confidence in the new coalition Government.

Chris Bryant: No way to appoint our noble lords

With an additional 180 peers the Chamber would have nearly 900 membersand the extra cost would come in at approximately £30.2m a year (at £168,000 per peer pa)

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: The new MPs I'm glad to see

The election delivered remarkably enlightened results: the number of black and Asian members of the House has gone up from 14 to 27

Tory candidate Philip Lardner suspended over 'offensive' gay comments

A would-be Tory MP has been suspended for describing gay people as "not normal", it was disclosed today.

Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (25/04/10)

Like a phoenix from the ashes

Stranded passengers begin to return home

Travellers stranded abroad by the volcanic ash cloud returned to the UK in a trickle rather than a flood today as recriminations flew about the Government's handling of the crisis.

Chagos marine reserve decision 'ignored exiled islanders'

The decision to create the world's largest marine reserve around the British-owned Chagos Islands failed to take account of the needs of the territory's exiled inhabitants, it was claimed today.

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