Syria to dominate agenda as the G20 summit begins in St Petersburg and the Universal Credit scheme deemed a failure
Syria expected to dominate G20
Tensions over Syria are expected to dominate a summit of the world's major economies being held in Russia days before an expected US military assault on the regime of President Bashar Assad, which host Vladimir Putin has warned would be an act of aggression.
Prime Minister David Cameron risks being sidelined at the G20 gathering in St Petersburg, after ruling out British involvement in any military action in the wake of his shock Commons defeat on Syria last week.
He is not expected to have a formal bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama, who is leading the international drive for an armed response to Assad's apparent breach of the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
Syrian rebel leaders meet Hague
Leaders of the Syrian opposition will meet Government ministers today as Boris Johnson said it was a "great shame" the UK had been left unable to launch military strikes against Bashar Assad.
The London Mayor said Britain should be able to show its "strong revulsion" at the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
UK involvement in a military coalition was ruled out after David Cameron suffered a surprise defeat in the Commons but the Syrian opposition said Britain still had an important role to play in providing aid.
Universal Credit project criticised
The Government embarked on its flagship Universal Credit scheme without knowing how it would work and has already been forced to write off more than £30 million in failed IT, according to the public spending watchdog.
In a damning report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said the project championed by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith had been beset by "weak management, ineffective control and poor governance".
Universal Credit is due to replace a bundle of means-tested benefits by 2017, with the department estimating it will save £38 billion in administration, fraud and error costs by 2023.
Le Vell gives ‘rape trial’ evidence
Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell will go into the witness box today to defend himself against accusations that he raped and sexually abused a young girl.
The star, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, will give evidence to the jury at Manchester Crown Court on the fourth day of his trial.
He is accused of 12 charges in all - five counts of rape, three of indecent assault, two counts of sexual activity with a child and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
Inquest due into shot soldiers
An inquest will be held today into the death of two British soldiers shot dead in Afghanistan as they went to help a man dressed as a local policeman.
Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29 and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, from 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's) died on September 15 last year when they were shot dead in Helmand Province.
The soldiers were said to have been at a checkpoint in the south of Nahr-e Saraj district when a man dressed as a local Afghan policeman feigned injury so they would help him.
Call to withdraw lobbying reforms
The Government's "seriously flawed" lobbying reforms should be withdrawn for up to six months so a special committee can produce improved proposals, a cross-party report has concluded.
The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee's scathing report found that the legislation had been "unnecessarily rushed" and failed to cover large parts of the lobbying industry.
Charities and other organisations have warned that the Bill's tougher rules on political spending could hit their ability to campaign and the committee criticised the "confusing" proposals.
Data prompts illegal abortions fear
Illegal abortion of unwanted girls could be taking place in Britain, ministers have admitted.
Analysis of birth statistics has found that the ratios of girls and boys born to mothers in some immigrant communities "fall outside the range considered possible without intervention", health minister Earl Howe said.
While the number of girls and boys born in the UK as a whole is within normal limits, in some communities the ratio varies noticeably. The data could indicate that sex-selection abortions are happening in Britain.
Force ‘investigates 40% of crimes’
More than half of all crimes in Britain's second largest police force area are not investigated, its highest ranking officer has confirmed.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said his officers are only able to concentrate on around 40% of reported crime.
The admission comes against a backdrop of nationwide cuts to police spending, which will see force budgets taking a 20% hit in real terms by 2015.