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.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn