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Reversion of fortunes

Andrea Tryphonides finds there are mixed feelings in the industry on Ship’s third-quarter sales figures

Charles Clarke took the blame for the Government’s defeat on the Terror Bill last week but it is clear that the decision not to compromise on the 90-day period of detention without charge for terror suspects was the Prime Minister’s. There are several other highly contentious bills scheduled for this session of Parliament, including the reform of incapacity benefits and pensions, introduction of ID cards, opening up the NHS to private providers and, perhaps most contentious in the eyes of Labour MPs, freeing schools from local education authority control.

Tony Blair has made it clear he has no intention of backing down on his proposals on these issues in the face of the expected strong opposition from backbenchers. But former Deputy Chief Whip George Mudie told Radio 4 on Sunday: “I can tell you, just from speaking to colleagues, the number of people who said: ‘I am going with them on terrorism but he has no chance on education’ scares me, because it will mean disaster.”

By now, you are probably wondering what all this has to do with mortgages. Usually reliable sources tell me that Gordon Brown, who will almost certainly be Tony Blair’s successor, is very lukewarm on home information packs. The Tories said prior to the election that if they won, they would abandon Hips. Therefore, if Blair’s resignation comes sooner than expected, there is a chance that we may be spared from Hips, as Parliament still has to resolve a few outstanding issues before they become law.

Hips will fundamentally change the housebuying process but their impact on lenders, brokers and estate agents still needs to be assessed. A key consideration will be who pays. Many lenders are likely to offer a free Hip to existing customers on condition that they stay with the lender for their next mortgage, thus requiring borrowers to commit to their next lender possibly many months before they move. The FSA will no doubt want to ensure that marketing material promoting this trade-off is clear, fair and not misleading, and that borrowers realise they may not be getting a free lunch.

Promoting Hips a few weeks ago, Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said: “Buying a home is stressful enough without losing hundreds of pounds on legal fees or valuations for properties that fall through.” She could just as easily have said: “Selling a home is stressful enough without losing hundreds of pounds on a Hip if the property doesn’t sell.”

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