HC Deb 15 April 1991 vol 189 cc11-2W
Ms. Mowlam

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) by what methods monthly invisible trade figures are calculated by other Community member states; and whether monthly invisible trade data produced by other Community Governments are directly comparable with Central Statistical Office statistics produced for the United Kingdom;

(2) what sampling method is used by the Central Statistical Office to calculate the monthly trade figures for invisibles; what changes in Central Statistical Office methods of calculating invisible trade figures have been made in each of the last 12 months; and what proposals he has to change the statistical method of calculating invisible trade figures.

Mr. Maples

Other Community countries, except the Irish Republic, require their residents to report individual payments to or receipts from overseas, usually above a threshold, and these data are used by the central banks to compile estimates of invisible trade. Only Germany, Greece and Spain choose to publish monthly invisibles estimates. The United Kingdom does not compile monthly figures of invisibles; the monthly figures shown in the monthly balance of payments press notice are either simply one third of the relevant reported quarterly figure or, for the most recent months, a projection. The projection for the most recent months is mainly an extrapolation from earlier quarterly estimates but it takes account of recent trends and of movements in exchange and interest rates. It is subject to considerable uncertainty.

All Community countries seek to compile invisibles estimates according to the guidelines on concepts and definitions issued by the International Monetary Fund. Therefore, the United Kingdom's quarterly estimates, which underlie the monthly calculations, are comparable with those for other Community countries.

The Central Statistical Office does not use sampling methods to calculate the monthly estimates of invisibles and it has not made any change to its methods for calculating these estimates in the past 12 months. The Central Statistical Office has no plans at present to change the way that it calculates monthly figures of invisibles, however this will be re-examined in the light of the recommendations of the review of balance of payments statistics. This is currently being carried out as part of the Chancellor's initiative on economic statistics which, among other things, is seeking to improve the quarterly estimates of invisibles. Details can be found in Economic Trends for March 1991, a copy of which is in the Library.

Mr. Alan Williams

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate at constant 1990 prices of the invisible balance in each year since 1979; and what is his estimate of the value of United Kingdom produced crude oil for these years.

Mr. Norman Lamont

Information relating to the volume of invisible trade is only calculated at 1985 prices and only for services. Estimates for exports and imports of services at 1985 prices for the years 1979 to 1989 can be found in table 4.1 of the Pink Book "United Kingdom Balance of Payments" which is available in the Library of the House, or on the Central Statistical Office database which can be accessed through the Library. An estimate for 1990 will be included in the 1991 Pink Book, to be published in the summer.

The estimates of the value of United Kingdom produced crude oil, including natural gas liquids, for the years 1979 to 1990 are as follows:

£ billion (current prices)
1979 5.7
1980 8.9
1981 12.3
1982 14.4
1983 17.0
1984 20.6
1985 19.9
1986 9.3
1987 9.9
1988 7.2
1989 7.3
1990 18.6
1 Provisional.

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