§ Mr. Clappison
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the annual running cost is, including the council tax liability, of his Department's former offices in 2 Marsham Street; how many civil servants work there; and what his plans are for the future of 2 Marsham Street. 
§ Mr. Straw
My Department took responsibility for the maintenance of the site of 2 Marsham Street on 1 April 1999, as part of the Home Office Central London48W Accommodation Strategy. The cost of maintenance and security for the year ending 31 March 2000 was £640,000 and for the year ending 31 March 2001 is not expected to exceed £725,000. Offices are not liable to Council Tax but to non-domestic rates. The empty rate liability is currently expected to be £1.2 million for the current year.
No civil servants work at the site, which has been vacant for several years other than occasional casual use such as a winter shelter for the homeless. With respect to the redevelopment of the site, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck) on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 1167W. This explained that subject to final contract negotiations, part of the site will be used for the relocation of the Home Office, including the Prison Service, and part will be sold for other uses, mainly housing including affordable housing. Anne's Gate Property plc has been selected as the preferred bidder for the project. The demolition of the existing building on the site will commence after contracts are exchanged.
Once demolition has started no non-domestic rates liability will arise until a new building has been erected. Completion of the new development is expected in 2004.