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

The Sketch: The House gets tough on journalists – and calls them to the bar

Sometimes Parliament – "this sacred place" as Tom Watson called it – looks less than transcendental. In yesterday's emergency debate, for instance, it looked like a turtle on its back flapping its fins.

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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Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
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A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
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Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
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Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
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Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape