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1 February 2018

One of London's most famous buildings to close for repairs

The Houses of Parliament are the base for the UK's government, and are also one of our most famous buildings. The buildings, on bank of the River Thames, include the Big Ben clock tower, the UK parliament and hundreds of offices and meeting rooms.

The building looks impressive but there are big problems with it.

One is that the pipes from the very old steam heating system run close to electrical cables, without much protection. The outer layers of the cables are crumbling, and there were seven fires in the first 11 months of 2017. The fires were all caught early because people are patrolling the building all the time to check for problems.

There are lots of other problems – for instance, 200 toilets stopped working in January.

Repairs need doing urgently, but it will cost at least GBP 3.5bn and take six years if everyone moves out of the building, rising to almost GBP 6bn if the work is done over 35 years.

There has been lots of debate about this but this week MPs finally voted to move out of the building for the work to be done more quickly and cheaply. However, this will not start to happen for several years.

Pop star says his next tour will be his last

Elton John has been one of the big names in UK pop music for 50 years, selling over 300 million albums worldwide. His hits include Your Song as well as music from the Lion King, and Candle In The Wind 1997, which he played at the funeral of Princess Diana, is the best-selling single ever.

He is very well known for his piano playing, and the amazing outfits and glasses he used to wear on stage. Now he is arranging a three-year world tour which he says will be his last. He is 70 years old and says he wants to spend more time with his two young sons.

More women than men get into Oxford University

This year Oxford University has offered more places to men than women. Almost a quarter of women who applied were offered places, compared with just over 21 per cent of men. Oxford says it is a "welcome sign of progress for female applicants."

Escaped pet found – on other side of road

Last summer, a tortoise called Tallulah escaped from the garden where she lived in Oxford. Tortoises move very slowly and Tallulah's owners looked everywhere in the garden and nearby because they thought they would find her.

But last week, Tallulah was found – just over the road in a school. She had travelled less than a quarter of a mile in six months, but she had managed to cross a busy road without being hit by a car. "We couldn't believe it. She was literally over the road," said her owner Danielle Morris.

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