News High ideals: Labour has built around 400 homes in each of its local authority areas since the election

Conservative councils build only half as much affordable and social housing

'Act now to save our natural environment or Britain's most precious wildlife will be lost forever'

England's green and pleasant land is in catastrophic decline, with some of its most precious wildlife at risk of disappearing for ever, the first comprehensive report into the nation's natural life has shown.

The Sketch: Whether or not Boris wins, the gentlemen are back in the game

It's amateurs vs professionals. That's the current theme, or narrative of politics just now.

Climate change could force 1 billion from their homes by 2050

As many as one billion people could lose their homes by 2050 because of the devastating impact of global warming, scientists and political leaders will be warned today.

More than 100 MPs employ family members on expenses

More than a hundred MPs – including two cabinet ministers – employ family members as taxpayer-funded assistants, the House of Commons has disclosed. The first official list, published in the wake of the scandal which cost the former Tory MP Derek Conway his political career, showed that MPs of all parties have close relatives on the public payroll. It includes senior figures such as the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, the Housing minister, Caroline Flint, the shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, and the former Tory leader Michael Howard.

Terence Blacker: The whiff of defeatism in the face of an old enemy

Imagine for a moment that a government body has delivered a report which presents, as one of four policy options, the prospect of your house being destroyed as well as your local shops, pub, village and landscape. It could happen within the next decade or so, the experts tell you, or in a century's time. On the other hand, the disaster could take place within a year. And, no, under present legislation, there would be no compensation.

Cabinet split over new coal-fired power station

Plans to build Britain's first coal-fired power station since 1984 have led to a cabinet split amid concerns that the project would undermine efforts to cut carbon emissions.

Damning report calls for a bio-secure zone at leak lab

A permanent bio-security zone should be set up around Pirbright, the government laboratories at the centre of the recent foot-and-mouth outbreak, says a damning independent report.

Terence Blacker: Rural dwellers are the victims of betrayal

How Hilary Benn's heart must have sunk at the arrival of yet another report on the state of rural Britain. New Labour has never quite understood the countryside, and those made responsible for it – Nick Smith, Margaret Beckett, Ben Bradshaw, David Miliband – have exuded the long-suffering air of professional politicians doing their best until a more important job comes along.

Badger cull to combat TB unlikely to work, say MPs

The prospect of a badger cull to combat the soaring epidemic of tuberculosis in cattle has diminished after MPs recommended any future slaughter should be strictly limited.

Medals for the 'land girls' of the Second World War

Dressed in a scratchy uniform of brown woollen breeches, a green jumper and a shirt and tie, they were the women whose back-breaking labours in milking parlours, lumber yards and on muddy fields helped to ensure that Britain did not starve during the Second World War.

Bird flu testing is cut despite fears virus has spread

Number of wild birds monitored by government vets down 17% – and even those tests may be seriously flawed, experts say

Tens of thousands of badgers face extermination in attempt to curb TB

Farmers draw up plans for cull, which minister says cannot be legally stopped<br />Family sett made famous in Bill Oddie's 'Springwatch' TV show within death zone

The visit: How a German Pope's tour of Auschwitz reopened old wounds

He appeared to do what was necessary. He stood in the drizzle while the wind tugged at his skull-cap. He trudged alone in his long white cassock under that sign that gives a jolly little jump in the middle, the one that reads "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work is Liberty). He went there, he said, as "a son of Germany," and to hammer home the point, he spoke while he was there in German (for most of his Polish trip he spoke either Italian or the Polish he has taken such trouble to master).

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
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Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
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Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own