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 ( The event coincides with National Museum Weekend in Holland, with over 500 institutions offering free or reduced admission (

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower