CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - UNEMPLOYMENT IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of the hardships that exist in the agricultural areas by reason of unemployment, and if he has considered the necessity of extending the provisions of the Unemployment Act to those areas.

I am aware that there is unemployment among agricultural workers. But no general desire has hitherto been shown either by employers or workers for the inclusion of agriculture in the scheme of Unemployment Insurance, and its inclusion would involve considerable practical difficulties. The question is one for consideration when the future of insurance against unemployment comes to be discussed. Agriculture is not included in the Unemployment Insurance Acts either in Great Britain or Ireland. Farmers would be definitely opposed to it, labourers either hostile or indifferent. The collection of contributions would be difficult, and the prevention of abuse in administration troublesome. So much employment in agriculture is of a temporary or casual nature that the claims to benefit would be high and the expense considerable.

If there is a desire to have the provisions of the Unemployment Act extended to rural workers, will you consider it?

Yes, certainly.