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

Lost passport fee to rise 2.9 per cent

Britons who lost their passports abroad will have to pay more for replacement documents from next week.

Darling plays to the gallery with swipe at Ashcroft's homeland

Britain agrees to share information with three tax havens, among them Belize

Chris Bryant: You Ask The Questions

The MP and Europe minister answers your questions, such as 'How can you justify Trident's renewal?' and 'Is the BBC now openly left-wing?'

Europe minister Chris Bryant to make parliamentary history with same-sex 'wedding'

The Palace of Westminster will make a break with tradition this month when it hosts a civil partnership ceremony for the first time.

Israel refuses to help Britain with inquiry into fake passports

'No proof' of Israeli part in killing of a Hamas leader, says foreign minister

Mary Dejevsky: Let's fight future wars by other means

Who will dare suggest that the old rules of warfare should be abandoned

Gareth Thomas on the joy of coming out

Gareth Thomas, Wales' gay rugby star, tells Johann Hari how it finally feels to be himself after years of self-denial.

Counter-terror: Falling pound forces 'hard decisions'

The Defence Secretary admitted today he was being forced to take "hard decisions" to ensure the plunge in the pound's value would not hinder the war in Afghanistan.

Pandora: Love sets her sights on Iannucci for biopic

Here's a bit of unlikely casting: Armando Iannucci, directing a biopic of Kurt Cobain.

Travellers need true grit in ice-bound Britain

Travelling Britons braved fresh icy blasts today as the severe weather did its best to wreck the country's transport links.

Mother of all parliaments to open first nursery

The squabbling and shouting that takes place within the House of Commons has led many to conclude that the mother of all parliaments better resembled a nursery than a hub of democracy. Yet while honourable members may have been accused of behaving like children for years, their repeated demands for childcare facilities for their own offspring have been rejected.

Chris Bryant: Cameron will come unstuck on EU fudge

With the Lisbon treaty set to be ratified, Conservative promises of a referendum and renegotiation will soon prove unachievable

Glenys Kinnock dropped from European role

Baroness accused of failing to make an impact during four-month tenure

Chris Bryant: We can't afford to let up in the fight against drug-traffickers

Last week the Royal Navy frigate HMS Iron Duke intercepted a fishing boat off the coast of South America and seized cocaine worth an estimated £240m, Britain's largest cocaine seizure to date.

Figures highlight drug arrests abroad

Drug offences now account for a fifth of all arrests of Britons abroad, Foreign Office (FO) figures showed today.

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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game