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Cabinet meetings under Margaret Thatcher were “miserably disappointing” gatherings devoid of debate and filled with “unctuous self-satisfaction”, one her most senior ministers said in 1984.

Lord Hanningfield says of allowance claims: ‘I have to live, don’t I?’

Case raises questions over Lords membership rules

PMQs: Ed Miliband is striding onto centre ground

Meanwhile, though, the Labour leader is doing his best to downplay the heroic role of payday crusader Stella Creasy

Congressional aides predict Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell could seal agreement

US Senate ‘very close’ to agreeing deal to raise debt ceiling and end shutdown

Senior Senate aides say deal is about to be announced

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde

US budget battle: IMF's Christine Lagarde warns America's lawmakers they risk pushing world into recession

Stark warning from IMF chief comes as search for deal to extend debt ceiling shifts to Senate

The entry to the Jefferson Memorial is closed off in Washington

US shutdown: President Obama vows not to give in to 'ideological crusade' as budget impasse forces 800,000 people off work

Republicans and Democrats have failed to agree the budget for federal agencies, forcing non-essential workers on unpaid leave

Nigel Evans makes a personal statement to MPs in the House of Commons

'I will see this through to the end': MP Nigel Evans protests his innocence over rape and sex charges

Alleged offences span a period of a decade and are said to have taken place in London and Lancashire

Tony Abbott stands with his family as he claims victory in Australia's federal election

Australia takes a turn to the right: Tony Abbott wins general election

Conservative Coalition brings an end to six years of Labor rule

Labour attack David Cameron over party funding lobbying bill

Labour will today call on David Cameron to drop his controversial lobbying bill and return to the negotiating table to reform the way party politics is funded in Britain.

MPs ‘losing public trust’ over lobbying, says Commons sleaze watchdog

MPs are undermining public trust in democracy by failing to back tighter controls on lobbying, Parliament’s official sleaze watchdog has warned.

Man due in court charged with murder of woman, 84

Police have charged a man with the murder of an 84-year-old woman discovered dead in her home and the attempted murder of a nine year-old boy found stabbed in a skate park.

Nick Clegg has warned the public would not understand it if MPs were awarded a bumper pay rise

Main party leaders set to scupper moves to give MPs a bumper pay rise

Recommended increase was expected to add up to £10,000 to backbenchers' salaries in 2015

Three years after being knifed by Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd gets revenge and returns as Australian Prime Minister

In an extraordinary turnaround in political fortunes, Australia's former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, wrestled the top job back today from Julia Gillard, who ousted him nearly three years ago to the day.

Commons Speaker John Bercow

Lobbying scandal latest: Speaker John Bercow limits release of new Commons passes

Commons Speaker John Bercow today suspended the issuing of new Commons passes to staff working for all-party parliamentary groups amid concerns they are being used as a vehicle for political lobbying at Westminster.

Nigeria officially passes ban on gay marriage

Lawmakers in Nigeria have passed a bill banning gay marriage, setting prison terms of up to 14 years.

Hold the front page: Ferguson’s retirement relegated the Queen’s Speech and global atrocities to the news in brie

The Last Word: One warm gesture said more than all the Fergie hot air

The tributes to Sir Alex were out of proportion, but not his pledge to a more moving retiree

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Barn owls are among species that could be affected
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Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
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After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas