We are currently working up proposals to evaluate the effectiveness of the HIPs programme, and we expect the results to be available in 2010. However, early independent research undertaken by Europe Economics and published in November 2007 concluded that the introduction of HIPs would not have a negative impact on the housing market.
Let me add my voice to the research, because all my constituents tell me that they find the HIPs to be—[Hon. Members: “All?”] Those constituents who raised the matter with me tell me that they find HIPs to be untimely, expensive, bureaucratic and, really, a waste of time. They quite like the energy performance certificates, so will the Government realise the error of their ways, realise what a waste of time—time, effort and money—the process has been, and scrap it?
The hon. Gentleman does not need to ask ludicrous questions like that to confirm to the House that he is not exactly the sharpest tool in the box. [Interruption.] However, thousands of jobs and hundreds of small businesses depend on the HIP process. Some 13,000 people—[Interruption.]
Thousands of jobs and hundreds of small businesses depend on the HIP process. Some 13,000 people have invested thousands in training as energy assessors, so the Opposition need to explain why they would put all those jobs and all those businesses at risk, and the hon. Gentleman needs to explain to all the people in his constituency whose livelihoods depend on that process why he wants to put them out of work.
Does the Minister not realise that most house purchasers would far rather rely on searches and inquiries carried out on their behalf by a solicitor of their choice than by a home information pack provider, of whom they know nothing?
The Leader of the Opposition swans off to the Arctic to hang around with huskies, but the hon. Gentleman and the Opposition are showing today why nobody will take seriously anything they say about climate change. As a result of HIPs, 2 million home owners now have an energy assessment and energy recommendations that can help them to cut their fuel bills by up to £300 and reduce carbon emissions. Is it not extraordinary that even today, as the world gathers in Copenhagen, the Opposition are still committed to abolishing the HIP, which is one of the main ways of helping home owners to cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change?