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.

US jobless claims fall, but labour market stays weak

A better than feared report on US jobless claims sparked a rare bout of optimism about the American economy yesterday, though underlying data continued to underscore the weak state of the labour market.

Hospitals to face fines over mixed sex wards

Hospitals will face fines if they fail to end the "indignity" of mixed-sex wards, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said today.

Leading article: The pluses – and minuses – of the big tent

Alan Milburn's decision to accept an invitation to work for the coalition brings to three the number of prominent former Labour figures who have, in a sense, crossed the floor. He follows Frank Field and John Hutton in agreeing to place his expertise at the service of the Government. And there could be a fourth if it turns out that David Blunkett is also in line for a role. Mr Milburn, who produced a report on social mobility for the last government, will advise on improving the chances of the least well off; he will not be paid.

Village People: Spookily inefficient

The farcical tales we have been reading recently about Russian spies are a reminder that the spooks are always with us.

Election-funds inquiry edges nearer Sarkozy

French prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that the country's richest woman secretly funded President Nicolas Sarkozy's election campaign, a judicial official said yesterday.

Slowing services sector dents US recovery hopes

The recovery prospects of the US economy dimmed a little last night after new data pointed to a moderation in the pace of growth in the dominant services sector.

£1m severance payout for ex-Labour ministers

Former Labour ministers were handed more than £1 million in severance pay at the General Election, official figures showed today.

Leading article: Money alone is not the answer

This week Londoners will mark the fifth anniversary of the 7 July terror attacks, which killed 52 people and injured 750 in the capital. They will do so against the backdrop of a depressing political row about the funding of police operations designed to ensure that Britain never again suffers such an atrocity.

Signs of faltering growth as fears of 'jobless recovery' materialise

The global economic recovery is showing signs of losing momentum, according to the latest evidence.

BBC blames £2bn black hole as it slashes pension scheme benefits

The BBC yesterday became one of the first quasi-public sector bodies to take the axe to its final salary pension scheme, blaming a £2bn funding black hole. The final salary scheme will be closed to new staff from this December while existing staff will see their benefits sharply reduced.

Osborne eyes incapacity claimants for savings

A controversial drive to reduce the £12.5bn a year paid to sick and disabled people deemed unfit to work will be at the heart of the government-wide spending review this summer.

Blair's top appointees to quit schools inspectorate

The two most senior executives at the education standards watchdog, Ofsted, are leaving their jobs as the school inspectorate faces a major review of its operations.

John Rentoul: Why Labour should welcome the Budget

In the days after the general election, a former Labour minister said to me that it was “the perfectly wrong result"

Row as Labour minister joins 'pension cuts' body

John Hutton, a former Labour Cabinet minister, has been appointed to head a commission that will look for ways to cut the cost of pensions for public sector workers.

Move to keep weekly bin collections

The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is to order the local government watchdog to stop pressurising councils into abandoning weekly bin collections.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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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?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific