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Outlook When the Payments Council decided so few people use cheques these days that it could safely announce their abolition in a few years' time, it dropped an enormous clanger. The protests were so noisy that it was forced into aU-turn – and now the Treasury Select Committee wants to see its powers reined in.

Coastguard centres saved from the axe

The number of coastguard centres being closed by the Government has been reduced from 11 to eight, the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said yesterday.

Labour peers could lose their holidays if they block AV Bill

Peers are being warned they could be forced to sit through the night – and have their half-term break delayed – if they continue to thwart moves to hold a referendum on electoral reform.

Video: Balls takes on Osborne for the first time

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has clashed with George Osborne for the first time in the House of Commons.

Lords deadlock over vote reform is broken

A 15-day stand-off in the House of Lords over the Government's constitutional reform plans appeared to be at an end last night after the Coalition announced a "package of concessions" to break the deadlock.

Lord Sugar fails to impress in House

As Lord Sugar of Clapton serves his apprenticeship in the House of Lords, records show he has voted only three times in the past year.

Minor British Institutions: the postcode

The postcode is another triumph of pioneering British bureaucracy. Sir Rowland "Penny Post" Hill split London into ten compass-point districts in 1856; the current code took 15 years to arrive after its trial in Norwich in 1959.

Leading article: Lesser lords

Once upon a time, wealthy men would pay to get into the House of Lords. Now they give up their seats in the legislature to avoid paying their fair share of tax to the Exchequer. Yesterday we learnt that three Conservative peers – Lord Bagri, Lord Laidlaw and Lord McAlpine – have resigned their seats, rather than rescind their privileged non-domiciled tax status. So much for noblesse oblige.

Peers have expenses reduced to £300 a day

Members of the House of Lords have had their allowances cut for the first time, following the parliamentary expenses scandal. In future, they will be able to claim a maximum of £300 a day, instead of the present £335.50, and will lose a range of perks.

Lords expenses scheme to be unveiled



Peers face a 15% cut in their allowances under a new House of Lords expenses scheme being unveiled today.

Be prepared for the biggest political shake-up since the Great Reform Act

There remains the issue of how constitutional change, welcome though it may be, should be brought about.

Travel Agenda: Love Your Museum weekend; Madeira Flower Festival; Houses of Parliament tour

Today: The 11 cultural institutions nominated for this year's Art Fund Prize, from the Ashmolean in Oxford to the Ulster Museum in Belfast, are staging a Love Your Museum weekend, with special events and activities (artfundprize.org.uk). The event coincides with National Museum Weekend in Holland, with over 500 institutions offering free or reduced admission (holland.com/uk).

David Taylor

In his obituary of the MP David Taylor (29 December), Tam Dalyell wrote, "In 2006, in my capacity as Father of the House of Commons, I was invited by the England Central Woodlands Project to open one of their new forest developments, part of which was in the North-West Leicestershire constituency."

Village people: 19/12/2009

Flying the flag for patriotism

*Andrew Rosindell the Conservative MP for Romford, is known as the candidate who first won his seat campaigning with a bulldog dressed in a Union flag.

Jerome Taylor: I was questioned over my harmless snapshot

I was on the South Bank of the Thames trying to compose a shot of the Houses of Parliament last week when two police officers stopped me.

Big Ben to celebrate 150th anniversary

Big Ben will celebrate its 150th anniversary tomorrow.

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