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Danny Alexander: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether a Minister in his Department is planned to be nominated to take responsibility for liaison with the Office for Disability Issues; and if he will make a statement. 
Anne McGuire, the Minister for Disabled People, has overall responsibility for the Office for Disability Issues (ODI). The Minister for Disabled People chairs a cross-government steering group whichincludes ministerial representatives from the Department of Health, Department for Education and Skills, Department for Transport, Department of Trade and Industry and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The Minister in the ODPM nominated to take responsibility for liaison with the ODI will be myself, as the ODPM Minister with responsibility for equality and diversity issues.
20 Dec 2005 : Column 2816W
Danny Alexander: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the initial activity undertaken by his Department in response to those recommendations in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Report Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People where lead responsibility was assigned to all Government Departments. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) will report annually to the Prime Minister on cross-government progress in implementing the Strategy Unit report, Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People". The first report is due to be published by summer 2006. It will contain an assessment of the initial activity undertaken by the ODI to fulfil its specific responsibilities, which require the active involvement of other Government Departments. It will also include an assessment of the initial activity undertaken by Government Departments to fulfil the responsibilities they have outside of the ODI remit.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the number of empty public sector (a) residential properties and (b) commercial and industrial properties in each Government office region of England. 
Yvette Cooper: The number of empty public sector and RSL residential properties by Government office region is shown in the following table. Additionally this is shown as a percentage of all dwellings in the area. Information on the number of empty public sector commercial and industrial properties is not held centrally. These include short term vacancies.
|LA||RSL||Other public||Total public||Percentage of public sector stock|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||7,300||4,200||300||11,800||2.7|
|East of England||3,400||1,500||1,000||6,000||1.5|
Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has raised Building Regulations energy efficiency standards in 2002 and 2005 and will do so again in 2006. From next April standards will be improved by around 20 per cent. for new dwellings and up to 27 per cent. for other new buildings to levels that are up to 40 per cent. higher than those in place in 1997. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also working with the construction industry, including building control bodies, to facilitate compliance.
We published in September 2004 a broad ranging Better Practice advisory document, the Planning Response to Climate Change". This supports the core policy in Planning Policy Statement (PPS)l, Delivering Sustainable Development", published in February 2005, which sets out how Regional Planning Bodies and local planning authorities should ensure that development plans contribute to global sustainability by addressing the causes and potential impacts of climate change.
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 13 December 2005]: In the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's (ODPM) Press Notice of 13 September 2005, changes were announced to the Building Regulations and the implementation of the technical provisions of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. These measures come into effect in April 2006.
There is a three-year derogation period within the Directive to apply fully the administrative provisions requiring the provision of information. The Press Notice, signalled that Government proposed to use this derogation and work with stakeholders to muster a cadre of inspectors to support a phased programme of implementation.
Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Government's compliance with the 2003 EU directive on energy performance in buildings; and what level of energy efficiency will have been achieved by 4 January 2006. 
I would draw my honourable friend's attention to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's press notice of 13 September in which it was announced changes to the Building Regulations and the implementation of the technical provisions of the EU energy performance of buildings directive. These measures come into effect in April 2006 and will make a major contribution to the UK's commitment to combat climate change delivering increased energy standards of up to 27 per cent. for new buildings. This is on top of significant improvements in energy efficiency in the 2002 changes to building regulations. There is a three-year derogation period within the directive to apply fully the administrative provisions requiring the provision of information.
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As previously announced the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be consulting on new draft control of advertisements regulations which will include a provision which will allow the EU flag to be flown without having to apply to the local authority for express consent. National flags already benefit from this exemption.
Yvette Cooper: Planning policy guidance on development and flood risk is contained in PPG25, published in 2001. It aims to ensure that flood risk is taken into account at all stages in the planning process to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding and to direct development away from areas at highest risk. On 5 December the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister issued for consultation proposals for a new PPS25 which will strengthen and clarify the policy, and a flooding direction which will provide greater scrutiny for major developments proposed in flood risk areas.
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