News The more modern town of Salford, where the latest investment of the English Cities Fund is expected to be announced

Could Britain’s chronic housing shortage be solved by using insurers’ assets? Jamie Dunkley and Russell Lynch report

Yvette Cooper with her husband, Ed Balls, and Joel, their second child

Yvette Cooper felt 'cut off' by Whitehall officials when she took maternity leave

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, spoke of being “cut off” by the Whitehall machine when she took maternity leave for the second time as a minister.

One million homes for rent needed by 2021

Almost a million affordable rental homes are needed by 2021 if England is to stave off a homelessness crisis, a study from Cambridge University has found.

Huge explosions hit Quebec town as freight train carrying hundreds of tons of crude oil derails

Up to 1,000 people evacuated and around 30 buildings destroyed

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's National Front

Marine Le Pen may face racial hatred charge after losing MEP immunity

The leader of France’s far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, was stripped of her parliamentary immunity, opening the way for charges of inciting racial hatred to be laid against her.

John Chapple, chairman of the London Beekeepers' Association, installs a beehive in a rooftop garden in Hackney, north London

Urgent review launched into bee population decline

The Government is launching an “urgent and comprehensive” review of why bees are declining and what is being done to help them.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has lost popularity

Fake votes mar France’s first electronic election

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s political party, already enfeebled by a chaotic national leadership election last year, faces further ridicule in a Paris town hall primary election which ends tonight.

Bob Irwin, father of Steve Irwin, has launched a campaign to make people aware of the damage being caused to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Father of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin launches campaign to save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

The father of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin has launched a multimillion pound campaign to save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

A Vedanta Resources-owned copper plant in Tuticorin, India. The company were hoping to mine for bauxite in a £1.1bn project elsewhere in India but have been dealt a blow by the supreme court

Indian supreme court rules to protect sacred hills against UK mine operation Vedanta Resources

Tribal councils will have final say on bauxite dig

Campaigners want wild animals banned from performing circus stunts

Government to ban use of wild animals in travelling circuses from 2015

More than 30,000 people signed an Independent petition calling for a ban

MPs have called for a ban on 'nerve agent' pesticides to be banned amid fears they may be affecting the rate at which insects are vanishing

MPs call for ban on 'nerve agent' neonicotinoid pesticides to protect dwindling bee population

“Nerve agent” pesticides should be banned until science has established whether they are to blame for the rate at which bumblebees and other insects are vanishing from the countryside, a committee of MPs has urged.

The Sketch: MPs reading the news? Pigs (and bats) might fly

Something was missing in the Commons yesterday. When a department's ministers submit to their regular interrogation, the session concludes with something called “topical questions”.

There are 250,000 adult badgers in the UK

Three badgers illegally shot in Shropshire may have been killed after farmers started own cull

Three badgers that were illegally shot in Shropshire may have been killed by farmers “let down” by the postponement of the badger cull, an animal welfare group has claimed.

Northstowe in south Cambridgeshire would be the biggest new town since Milton Keynes

Green light for biggest new town since Milton Keynes

Building work on Northstowe in south Cambridgeshire could start in 2013

The Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps pictured posing as his alter-ego, Michael Green

Tory chairman accused of running dirty tricks campaign while minister

Cabinet Office refuses to hand over documents relating to altered letter from Lord O'Donnell

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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam