News A defiant George Osborne during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons

George Osborne refused to rule out a cut in the top rate of tax from 45p to 40p today as the Conservatives and Labour clashed over the economy.

Pension legislation to go ahead

The Government is pressing ahead with legislation to enact its controversial public sector pension reform in the new year, even though an agreement has not been reached with unions to end the bitter dispute.

Jobless dip boosts recovery hopes

The US unemployment rate fell to a two-and-a-half-year low of 8.6 per cent in November and companies stepped up hiring in further evidence that the US economic recovery is gaining momentum.

Leading article: The wrong time for mass industrial action

Even with the reforms, public-sector pensions are better than private sector equivalents

Andy McSmith: Corridors of power are full of mysterious middle men

It was as difficult to walk through parts of Manchester earlier this month without bumping into a lobbyist as it has been for Liam Fox to visit a foreign capital without meeting up with Adam Werritty. Literally thousands of lobbyists took the trip north for a week's social networking and deal-clinching at the Conservative Party conference. There were more of them there than Tory representatives.

Job news gives unexpected lift

The struggling US economy got an unexpected lift yesterday as new figures showed it created many more jobs than expected last month – estimates of past months' job creation were also raised.

Suu Kyi meets with 'new' regime

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma's democracy movement, has held her first meeting with a government official since she was released last year from seven years under house arrest.

Senior civil servant feared reporters hacked his phone

A senior civil servant embroiled in a political row with the Education Secretary Michael Gove contacted the police over fears that his phone had been hacked by journalists.

Bright pupils should attend masterclass, says Burnham

Bright state-school pupils should be taught in "masterclasses" to prepare them for elite universities, the shadow Education Secretary, Andy Burnham, said yesterday.

Coalition MPs condemn abolition of Rural Advocate

Countryside needs an independent voice in government, say rebellious Conservative and Lib Dem backbenchers

Final push for circus animals campaign

Thousands appeal to MPs to back ban on cruelty in crucial Commons vote tomorrow

US jobless aid claims climb

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefit unexpectedly edged higher last week, stoking fears of a stalled economic recovery even as a separate report showed record US exports in April.

Outsiders to help decide fitting punishment for errant MPs

Members of the public are to sit in judgement on cheating MPs under reforms designed to counter the claim that parliamentary wrongdoing is punished with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Councils offered cash to keep weekly bin collections

Weekly bin collections, one of the public services most highly prized by Conservative voters, are to be rescued from the impact of public spending cuts.

Coalition 'cowardly' over wild animals circus ban

The coalition was attacked from all sides in an emergency Commons debate yesterday over its failure to ban wild animals in circuses. In a bruising, 20-minute session, the Animal Welfare Minister Jim Paice admitted that he and Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, had misled MPs three times last week by suggesting there was a live legal challenge to a ban in Austria.

US jobless claims at 8-month high

Economists digested some grim data on the US economy yesterday, with official figures showing that new claims for unemployment benefits had climbed to an eight-month high, while productivity growth slowed over the first three months of the year.

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Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?