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Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 9 March 2010

It is unfortunate that the Minister has not taken a little more time to review the issue. If he had, he might have looked at Northern Ireland where Ministers introduced energy performance certificates without HIPs. Perhaps after he has done so, he might be able to take the opportunity to come back to the House with a fuller answer.

Despite the difficulties in the housing market, HIPs are helping to speed up the process. A survey of 37,000 transactions—[Interruption.] Well, what happens is that every month, those guys—I am sorry, I mean the Opposition—come along and ask these questions and I have to tell them that a survey of 37,000 transactions showed that when a HIP is available, exchanges were completed more quickly. I accept that HIPs were criticised following their introduction in 2007, but we listened to those criticisms and have made major changes to improve the system, introducing the new property information questionnaire containing basic information that buyers said that they wanted; improving the quality of searches; binding in the practice of using insurance; and providing that HIPs must be available when marketing starts.