The Government today beat off a Tory attempt to scrap Home Information Packs, defeating by 306 votes to 234 a motion to withdraw the law.
Next week the House of Lords will have a go, following a select committee’s strong recommendation that the Government should take note of the criticism. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said that it will launch a legal action.
The basis for these attacks is not simply that HIPs are a waste of time and money, another tax on moving house, and an unwarranted interference in private contracts. HIPs are all of these things, but the real complaint is that the implementation is a complete shambles. There are not enough inspectors, the RICS says, to meet demand – unless, of course, the HIPs requirement on top of rising interest rates kills the market anyway.
Administrative incompetence is the dominant characteristic of this government. Of course, they are also dishonest, contemptuous of Parliament, democracy and the constitution, dishonest, oppressive of civil liberties, dishonest and so on, but the chief failing is the absence of any ability to plan, to organise and to see something through. The problem is not lack of money nor lack of conviction, just lack of control.
HIPs have been more than three years in the planning. They are due to become compulsory in six weeks time. Even if you accept the principle – not many people do, but assume at least that we are stuck with them – it is beyond believing that the government simply isn’t ready.
Can you picture the daily life of a household in which the husband – Ed Balls – is the chap who devised Tax Credits and the wife – Yvette Cooper – is responsible for rolling out Home Information Packs? It amazes me that they ever get as far as breakfast.
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