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 Shop See all offers »
India and Nepal
14 nights from £2,159pp Find out more
Dutch Masters
five nights from £679pp Find out more
La Robla and Rioja
nine nights from £1599pp Find out more
Classical Spain
six nights from £539pp Find out more
California and the Golden West
14 nights from £1,599pp Find out more
Bruges
three nights from £259pp Find out more
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice