§ Mr. Rosindell
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the latest rate of population change is in Northern Ireland. 
§ Mr. Pearson
Between mid-year 2001 and mid-year 2002 the estimated population of Northern Ireland increased by 0.43 per cent., from 1,689,300 to 1,696,600 people. This rate of population increase is in line with longer-term trends; on average over the decade from 1992 to 2002 the estimated population increased by 0.44 per cent. annually.
§ Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent assessment he has made of future population trends in Northern Ireland; and how he expects public services in Northern Ireland to adapt to these trends. 
§ Mr. Pearson
In line with the rest of the United Kingdom, the Government Actuary's Department published population projections for Northern Ireland on 18 December 2003. The population of Northern Ireland is projected to increase overall by 5 per cent. from a base of 1.697 million in 2002 to 1.788 million in 2017. Within this figure, the number of children aged under 16 is projected to decrease by 12 per cent., the population aged 16–64 is projected to increase by 6 per cent., and the population aged 65 and over is projected to increase by 32 per cent.
Northern Ireland's demographic trends are a key factor determining policy development and resource allocation. Although demographic changes have implications for all departments those most affected are the Department of Education and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The Department of Education takes into account future population trends when deciding how many teachers will be needed. Similarly, population trends are recognised by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety when drawing up Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland: a statistical profile and will inform the Regional Health Strategy currently in development.