Two-faced beast in a spin but at least horrible HIPs bite the dust

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When Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat boss Nick Clegg first floated the possibility of a coalition government I thought it might take the form of a blue and yellow chameleon that turned green when threatened.

Then in the famous scene in the rose garden of 10 Downing Street when the two men cemented their relationship in front of the media, I was reminded more of the push me-pull you in the 1960s film classic Doctor Doolittle.

The character of Doolittle, you will recall, was played by the late great Rex Harrison and the push me-pull you could best be described as a double-headed llama with two front ends.

Simply put a Davehead at one end and a Nickhead at the other and hey presto, you’ve got pantomime politics.

Not only is this bizarre policy beast effectively neutralised in a perpetual tug-of-war but with the Nickhead naturally inclined to move to the left and the Davehead’s propensity to turn right, it is destined to instinctively wheel around in circles.

Perhaps it was this whimsical notion that prompted my ever-patient wife to remark that such an evolutionary turn is perhaps no bad thing.

She punned that without a bum between them, at least such a beast would not require HIPs. This quip was quite a good attempt to draw my attention to one Tory manifesto promise that had not been diluted or deleted in the coalition accord.

Until Davehead and Nickhead get their double act together on the £300bn mortgage funding problem a HIP replacement doesn’t need to be on the agenda. But we might as well talk to the animals

We should be grateful that Home Information Packs are to be consigned to the dustbin of history, was pretty much her attitude.
She’s right, and I have to admit that some good things have come out of the coalition’s compromises.

For example, much to the relief of the industry the much-loved Financial Services Authority has not gone the same way as HIPs, although we must hold our breath with regard to the future shape of Capital Gains Tax and the impact that any changes in this might have on the buy-to-let market.

But back to HIPs. However well intentioned the concept might have been these packs did nothing to speed up the home buying process, added costs that were inevitably subsumed into the selling prices of properties and only benefited those riding the gravy train. Of course, the irony is that the ever-excitable consumer lobby is now up in arms about housing minister Grant Shapps’ clear statement that there will not be any attempt by the government to impose a revamped regulatory regime on the conveyancing sector, along with his belief that the housing market needs to be left to recover by itself.

Surely the most important consumer issue in play at the moment is that it is virtually impossible for many aspiring home owners to get a mortgage – an unhappy fact borne out by the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

So until Davehead and Nickhead get their double act together on the £300bn mortgage funding problem a HIP replacement doesn’t need to be on the agenda. But as my wife says, we might as well talk to the animals.