Margaret Beckett, housing minister, claimed there were signs of an 'upturn' in the property market despite record price falls.

In an interview with yesterday’s Sunday Times, she even expressed concern about the dangers of a new inflationary bubble in house prices once the economy picked up and mortgage lending resumed.

Her comments risked igniting a political row after the much-ridiculed claim last week by Baroness Vadera, business minister, that she could see the 'green shoots of recovery'.

In her interview, Mrs Beckett said there were recent “indications” that interest among homebuyers was picking up.

Her comments were thought to be based on a RICS survey which found that the number of new buyers registering with estate agents had risen to its highest level since 2006.

Sunday Times, Financial Times