§ Mr. Byers
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total estimated cost of the new embassy in Moscow; when it is expected to be ready; what is the capital valuation of the present embassy; how many rooms the present embassy has; and what is its proposed use once the new embassy is in operation.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
The total estimated construction cost of the new embassy in Moscow is £50 million at current prices and rates of exchange, providing offices for about 80 United Kingdom and 80 local staff plus 31 flats for United Kingdom staff. Subject to all the necessary planning approvals, it is expected to be ready in 1999.
The present embassy is leased at a peppercorn rent from the Russian authorities, in reciprocity for the lease of part of the accommodation occupied by the Russian embassy in London, also at a peppercorn rent. We do not know the valuation put on our buildings in Moscow by the Russian authorities. The present embassy provides office accommodation for 170 staff.
The Russian authorities require us to remove our offices from the present site. They have agreed that the present embassy buildings may be retained for residential use. Some of the space will be used to make a limited extension to the Ambassador's flat. Most will be converted into staff accommodation, to save on the very high rents which are charged in Moscow by both public and private landlords.