HC Deb 19 July 1988 vol 137 c551W
Mr. David Davis

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the figures published recently by the Government statistical service in the 1988 edition of "Regional Trends" on the growth of gross domestic product per capita in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stanley

GDP for Northern Ireland is measured by estimating the value of the income generated by economic activity. Income from employment, which normally accounts for over 70 per cent. of GDP, is calculated from data made available by Inland Revenue and DHSS (Great Britain). It has been established that, due to an error in the computer program used to assemble and extract the date, an increasing proportion of earners in Northern Ireland in the period 1983–86 were treated as "Region unknown". This has resulted in a cumulative underestimation of wages and salaries, and hence of gross domestic product, in each of the years 1983 to 1986. Preliminary investigations suggest that the underestimate of GDP for 1986 is of the order of 10 per cent.—15 per cent. In consequence it now appears that, whilst per capita GDP remains well below that of any other region, per capita growth in Northern Ireland may have been very close to the United Kingdom average rather than slipping well behind as previous data indicated. Revised figures are being produced for publication as quickly as possible and will be placed in the Library.