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.

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.

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.

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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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?