[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Tories fail to scrap home packs
Viewing a house
Critics say Home Information Packs will add to the cost of selling
The Conservatives have failed in their bid to scrap Home Information Packs, after losing a vote in the Commons.

The government said the packs will cut the number of house sales that fall through and encourage people to make homes more energy efficient.

But the Tories had argued they will increase costs without achieving goals.

From 1 June, homes put up for sale in England and Wales must have an HIP, costing at least 300, with title deeds and an energy performance certificate.

The government defeated the Conservative motion to overturn the legislation with 306 votes to 234.

There will be a further attempt to scrap the packs when it is debated next week in the Lords, where a select committee has already urged the government to "seriously" consider the widespread criticism.

Evidence of title
Copies of planning, listed building or building regulations consents
A local search
Guarantees for any work on the property
An energy performance certificate.

The Tories had wanted the energy performance certificates, which are included in HIPs, to be introduced separately.

Energy performance certificates would give sellers and would-be buyers information on the property's energy efficiency, as well as tips on how the energy efficiency of the home could be improved.

They would also ensure that the UK complies with an EU directive which comes into force in 2009.

During the Commons debate, Tory housing spokesman Michael Gove said of the packs: "They are a test case in how not to legislate.

"They will do nothing to take the strain out of home-buying and only add cost and complexity to the housing market."

Mr Gove said VAT on the packs, which he said would cost between 500 and 1,000, would boost Treasury coffers, while home buyers were already being "milked" with stamp duty and council tax.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott accused the Tories of hypocrisy in not voting to support the packs, which he said would help the environment.

He said the Conservative had campaigned on a slogan of "vote blue, go green" yet failed to support government efforts to fight climate change.

Judicial challenge

The Commons vote came a day after Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said it would seek a judicial review because the government had not consulted properly on the law.

"It is unprecedented for a professional body to challenge the government in this way. It only emphasises how shambolic the government's handling of HIPs has been," said shadow housing minister Michael Gove.

We have put our house on the market a month early simply to avoid the cost of these packs
Laura Berbank, Medway

Jeremy Leaf from RICS said the packs would make it "more expensive and more difficult" for people to put their homes on the market, as well as being less "green" than they could be.

Among its criticisms were that there was a lack of trained staff ready for the 1 June implementation and called for a delay of a few months.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said 2,000 inspectors had already passed their exams, with another 3,000 in training.

'Like fridges'

She told MPs that energy performance certificates could help cut carbon emissions by almost a million tonnes a year and cut fuel bills.

"If you get this information on a fridge you ought to get this information for a home."

She had earlier dismissed RICS calls for a delay, saying: "We do think that given the threat from climate change that we need to get on with this as fast as possible."

Liberal Democrat local government spokesman Andrew Stunell said "government incompetence...had botched" the packs' introduction, but his party still supported the energy certificates.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth, WWF-UK and the Campaign to Protect Rural England were pleased the HIPs would go ahead, particularly as the energy certificates "can play an important role in tackling the UK's contribution to climate change, as well as saving homeowners money".

Home packs face legal challenge
15 May 07 |  Business
Q&A: Home information packs
01 May 07 |  Business
Home seller's pack trial starts
06 Nov 06 |  England
'Abolish home packs' say lenders
27 Oct 06 |  Business
Six locations to test home packs
11 Aug 06 |  England
'U-turn' claim over house packs
18 Jul 06 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific