David Blunkett's former residence is put on market without a pack, due to a 'legal loophole'

The Conservative party has accused the government of hypocrisy over its position on home information packs, it was revealed today.

On the first anniversary of the government’s introduction of home information packs (Hips), the opposition has accused Whitehall of exploiting legal loopholes to sell David Blunkett’s former official residence at South Eaton Place.

The six-bedroom house was put on sale on the 10 November for an asking price of £4m but there was no Hip available until 11 December. Under Hip rules, a property can be put on the market once a pack has been commissioned. However, housing minister Margaret Beckett has criticised this legal loophole known as the “first day marketing provision”.

She has argued that buyers should be able to see all the information once a property is put on the market and announced she is abolishing the provision at the end of April. However her own communities department has put Blunkett’s residence on the market without an accompanying pack.

Shadow minister for housing, Grant Shapps said: “It is the height of Whitehall hypocrisy for Gordon Brown to be exploiting the Home Information Pack loopholes that Labour ministers have pledged to abolish for everyone else.”

The Tory party also claimed that Whitehall departments including the Ministry of Defence, Defra and the Ministry of Justice have been shunning home condition reports, voluntary surveys produced by the seller, when putting properties on the market. The government plans to make the reports a compulsory part of the Hip.

The opposition has argued that such measures are unnecessary given that only 1,800 reports have been commissioned so far. It has also criticised the exorbitant cost of Hips, arguing that even without home condition reports, the Ministry of Justice had to pay £658 for some of its information packs. Shapps has called for Hips to be abolished, describing the actions of Whitehall departments as “a devastating vote of no confidence” in the policy.

He added: “As a matter of urgency, ministers should be using their emergency powers to suspend Hips and provide a shot in the arm to the ailing housing market.”