HIP row hots up as Tories clash with housing minister

Home Information Packs were the cause of another spat between the government and the Conservative party last week.

It started with Conservative MPs pressing housing minister Yvette Cooper on the precise timetable for the introduction of HIPs and ended with Cooper cautioning Michael Gove, Tory MP for Surrey Heath, against becoming the parliamentary spokesperson for the National Association of Estate Agents, which might have its own interests in the process.

She also accused him of being an advocate for those in the property industry who are opposed to the introduction of HIPs because they make money out of the existing system.

Her words have divided the industry. The Association of Home Information Pack Providers says it agrees with Cooper and accuses the Tories of siding with big businesses.

Mike Ockenden, director-general of AHIPP says: We have some sympathy with the ministers view. The Tories appear to be on the side of the minority of estate agents who are anti-HIP despite the fact that it is clear the packs will be in the interests of consumers.

there is a vocal minority of agents supported by their association who continue to fight against the inevitable arrival of HIPs. The Tories are backing the wrong horse.

But Trevor Kent, former president of the NAEA, has hit back at the ministers jibe.

Kent says: How dare Cooper stoop so low? Her problem is that she has inherited a chalice brimful of bile and prejudice from five previous housing ministers. And shes not woman enough to grasp the nettle and tell her boss to drop the whole caboodle right now before her brew poisons the entire industry.

Her and her predecessors only policy is to belittle all constructive criticism.

Kent also claims that the government has known since 1998 the HIPs had been deemed unworkable and unnecessary by every branch of the professional property industry.

He adds : The introduction of HIPs next year will lead to a property market meltdown of undreamed of proportions and produce three million extra disgruntled voters each and every year until the Tories do the sensible thing.