News George Osborne sounded warnings ahead of 26 June deadline

Chancellor has demanded £11.5bn in spending reductions, with most Whitehall departments required to find savings of up to 10%

Nonsense verse? Presenter Des Lynam backs Ukip and rewrites 'Send in the Clowns' as retort to Ken Clarke

Mr Lynam said he had voted for the Eurosceptic party last week

Tories brace for major losses in local elections amid dismay over Ukip growth

The Conservatives are braced for hundreds of losses in the 2 May local elections amid signs of disarray over how to counter the growing threat from the UK Independence Party.

Ian Duncan Smith said his department  had provided a hotline to help people  pay back such benefits

Iain Duncan Smith backtracks after saying that wealthy pensioners should hand back their benefits

Work and Pensions Secretary says: 'I'm not making that a policy position'

Labour leadership asks MPs to 'respect' Margaret Thatcher tributes

Labour MPs have been urged by their party leadership to show “respect and restraint” when the House of  Commons discusses Baroness Thatcher’s legacy today.

Coalition wins commons vote for secret courts

Plans to allow more civil courts to sit in secret were pushed through the Commons last night in the face of protests from MPs of all parties that the moves would undermine basic principles of British justice.

Ministers should be given annual performance appraisals, says former head of civil service

Ministers should be given annual performance appraisals to see how well they are doing their jobs, a former head of the civil service said today.

Ken Clarke promoted the idea of a 'rehabilitation revolution'

Kenneth Clarke’s legacy: first fall in prisoner numbers since 1990s

The prison population has fallen by almost 3,000 since the start of last year, reversing a trend dating back to the 1990s, it has been revealed.

Violent criminals and rapists to be given automatic life sentences when found guilty of a second offence

Violent criminals and rapists will be given automatic life sentences when they are found guilty of their second offences, Chris Grayling announced today as he vowed to be a “tough Justice Secretary”.

Dealers 'laugh at drugs law', says ex-police chief

Drug dealers across the world are laughing at the law as it simply increases their profits, a former police chief said today.

Private sector offender bid slammed

Government plans to hand over the management of offenders to private firms risk compromising public safety, the Chief Inspector of Probation warned today.

Prisons grow more crowded despite falling crime rate

More offenders were jailed last year, and received longer prison sentences, despite an overall fall in the number of criminal convictions, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) disclosed yesterday.

Claimants will have to prove harm

Major reforms of libel laws have been unveiled under which would-be claimants will have to demonstrates that they have suffered serious harm to their reputations, or are likely to do so, before they can take a defamation case forward.

Police to protest over cuts

Rank-and file police officers are to stage a protest over proposed changes to their pay and conditions.

The moves are to combat Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke’s ‘soft’ image on law and order

Sobriety bracelets head wave of new penalty enforcements

Offenders would be fitted with "sobriety bracelets" to check for alcohol in their blood under plans to toughen up community sentences to be launched by the Government.

Criminal records to be wiped early

Thousands of former prison inmates and other offenders could have their past convictions cleared from their records under Government plans.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
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'
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
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South Africa
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