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.

Cap on court payments to defendants ruled unlawful

A Government scheme which left many defendants having to pay to clear their name in court was ruled unlawful yesterday.

Hodge wins secret ballot to chair spending watchdog

Margaret Hodge, the former Labour minister, has been handed one of the most powerful backbench jobs in the Commons after winning the election to lead parliament's government spending watchdog.

New Zealand politician defends blue movie claim

Former government ministers used their official credit cards to buy pornographic films, Bollinger champagne and flowers and even charter an aircraft.

MPs paid £10.5m 'golden goodbye'

MPs who retired or lost their seats at last month's general election are to receive "golden goodbyes" totalling almost £10.5m.

Field made 'poverty tsar'

Frank Field, the former Labour minister, is to conduct a major review into poverty levels across Britain.

No 10 in row over Question Time panel

Downing Street refused to field a Cabinet minister on BBC1's Question Time this week because the panel featured former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, the flagship current affairs programme said.

BT boss adds 1.2m bonus to £860,000 salary

The chief executive of BT received a bonus of £1.2 million last year on top of a salary of £860,000, the telecoms giant reported today.

Julian Knight: Stagflation is here, so how do you live with it?

The stock market, once it has settled down after the euro affair, may be the investment answer

Balls joins Miliband brothers in contest for Labour leadership

Ed Balls will finally announce today that he is to join the race to become the next leader of the Labour Party.

Civil servants 'objected' to Labour's final spending spree

Whitehall's most senior civil servants formally protested over a spending spree by Labour ministers during Gordon Brown's final months in power.

Terence Blacker: Entrapment is the name of the game

What a happy day it must have been for Melissa Jacobs when a silly old fool called Lord Triesman took a shine to her.

Fans protest as bid to host World Cup falls prey to the oldest trick in the book

The Lord Triesman affair has provoked a huge backlash – but proves that kiss-and-tells can still bring down the powerful. By Cahal Milmo

Chancellor launches audit of Government spending

Chancellor George Osborne will today launch an independent audit of Government spending after ministers claimed they had found "black holes" in the budgets left behind by the outgoing Labour administration.

Leading Article: Universities should not be tied to business

Until 11 months ago there was a separate department for higher, further and adult education. Gordon Brown set up the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, also known as DIUS, after he came to power in 2007. It made sense to separate higher education from schools to show that it was important in its own right and deserved its own department – and linking universities to innovation and skills chimed with the political mood. Universities are about the life of the mind, but they are also important engines in the UK's economic development and many undergraduates regard a degree as a ticket to a job. The three areas were obviously linked.

National identity card scheme to be axed

The £5 billion national identity card scheme will be consigned to the scrapheap as a result of the new coalition Government, the Home Office confirmed today.

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A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
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Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
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Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
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Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
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'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
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A cupboard on sale for £7,500 in London
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
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
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home