Date Published 16 April 2010
The Lib Dems – whose leader Nick Clegg easily outshone Cameron and Brown in last night`s televised debate – have set the cat among the pigeons by including a promise to ditch HIPs in their election manifesto.
The surprise inclusion means that in the event of a hung parliament where the Lib Dems hold the balance of power, HIPs are reasonably likely to be abolished.
Were there a Lib Dem coalition with the Conservatives, HIPs would certainly go, as the Tories have also made ditching HIPs a manifesto commitment. The two parties now look to be the proverbial dream ticket.
Interestingly, the Lib Dem manifesto promises on planning are almost identical to the Conservatives’.
If there were a Lib Dem coalition with Labour, then the removal of HIPs could be one of several measures Labour would have to sacrifice to secure the Lib Dems’ co-operation.
The Lib Dems have already made it plain how serious they are about any deals they might do, letting it be widely known that if there were a pact with Labour, they would not want Gordon Brown as prime minister.
However, the manifesto promise to get rid of HIPs was unexpected. Although the party has often condemned the measure, it was in fact the Lib Dems themselves – in the Lords – who allowed HIPs to get on to the statute book by dropping their opposition at the very last minute. Had they stuck to their guns and continued their united stance with the Tories, HIPs would not have passed on to the statute books.
Also in the Lib Dem manifesto is the so-called Mansion Tax, at 1% on properties over £2m. There are also various ‘green’ measures involving insulation and incentives to replace out of date boilers and install double glazing.
The party also wants to encourage farmers to convert existing buildings into affordable housing.