Pandas get VIP suites in Hong Kong

TWO GIANT pandas, An An and Jia Jia, touched down in Hong Kong from mainland China yesterday to be be whisked off to unprecedented luxury at what is described as the Ocean Park Panda Hotel. The complex is a specially built, pounds 6.5m panda "habitat" with separate "his" and "her" bedrooms, lush vegetation, electronic temperature control and - believe it or not - a sliding roof for when the weather becomes temperate.

Stuck with Hague in Never-say-never land

IT IS not generally realised what a devout lot our politicians are. They may sometimes be heard praying quietly in the Crypt Chapel. "O Lord," they whisper, "we do not ask for much. Just give us an issue, and we can do the rest."

The man who said I had a funny name is not, of course, a racist

I'm amazed by the number of intelligent people who fail to grasp that you can be a racist without knowing it

Senior Tories offer to back Blair on EMU

PRO-EUROPEAN heavyweights in the Conservative Party openly defied William Hague last night by welcoming Tony Blair's announcement of the timetable under which Britain would join a successful single currency.

The Week In Westminster: Pinochet and policing prove tougher than yobs for Straw

NEXT WEEK will be a difficult one for Jack Straw - much more difficult than the comparatively easy time he has had over his proposals to lock up people with severe personality disorders or encourage the public to have a go at yobs.

Spin gurus try to thwart black asbestos victims' legal claims

"THE ADMINISTRATION used young boys within the collecting bags to trample down and compact the asbestos fluff. There was a burly fellow patrolling the bags to lash at the backs of any boys who slowed their pace."

Parliament: Lords Reform: Mandelson's lone stand on Lords

PETER MANDELSON used his comeback in the Commons last night to claim he was "the lonely voice" who proposed to set up a Royal Commission on House of Lords reform.

Peer demands Heath be called to account

SIR EDWARD Heath, the former prime minister, has been referred to the Conservative Ethics and Integrity Committee for failing to declare his business interests, including a consultancy with a Chinese state-owned company.

Goodman stole peer's cash to give to Labour

LORD GOODMAN, once one of the country's most influential and eminent lawyers, stole up to pounds 1m from a Conservative peer, and handed large sums to Labour ministers.

Standards watchdog to investigate Heath

SIR EDWARD HEATH, the former Conservative prime minister, is to be investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards following the Independent on Sunday's revelations last week about his business interests.

Blair wins award for services to Europe

TONY BLAIR yesterday became the third British prime minister to be awarded the Charlemagne Prize, given in recognition of service to European integration.

The Saturday Essay: After half a century, Blair could get it right in Europe

Tony Blair is the most instinctively European prime minister since Heath - and a good deal more adept

Quiz of the year: 1998

1. "Believe me, it will be the envy of the world." What was the eighth wonder and who was hyping it?

Thursday Book: Britain misses the Euro-bus again

THIS BLESSED PLOT: BRITAIN AND EUROPE FROM CHURCHILL TO BLAIR

Obituary: Nicholas Budgen

WHEN EDWARD Heath called an unexpected general election for February 1974, Enoch Powell produced a press release which came as a thunderbolt for all but a handful of his admirers: he would not stand as a Conservative candidate in the Wolverhampton South West seat which he had, by assiduous work, made safe for the Tories since he was first elected to Parliament for that constituency in 1950.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness