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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.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
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Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
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The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
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Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
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people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
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Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
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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
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?