Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Employment in Agriculture.


asked the Taoiseach the number of people engaged in agriculture who left the land between 1932 and 1967.

As no Census of Population was taken in 1932 statistics relating to the number of persons at work in agriculture are not available for that year. The nearest relevant figure is that for 1936 which according to the Census of Population was 608,000. For recent years the estimated number of persons at work in agriculture is prepared as part of the annual labour force estimates and these are not yet available for 1967. The estimated figure for 1966 is 323,000, some 285,000 below the 1936 level. The 1966 figure is subject to revision when the relevant results of the 1966 Census of Population become available.

We may take it that almost half a million have left, if you add the previous four years, and they are still going.

I should point out to the Deputy that the greatest fall in the number engaged in agriculture occurred during the two periods of inter-Party Government, when there was a drop of 140,000.

That is completely wrong. The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that there was an increase in population between 1946 and 1951.

Between 1946 and 1956, the drop was 140,000.

And Fianna Fáil were four years in office during that period.

It started in 1926, if the Deputy looks up the figures.

No, 1932—the blight came on the country then.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say what the term "people engaged in agriculture" means? Does it not mean farmers, agricultural workers, forestry workers and, possibly, fishermen?

The total persons at work in agriculture.

Yes, but it is not necessarily farmers as such, self-employed.

I suppose there are families also.

Yes—whole families went and are going.

Going still—14,000 went last year.

As the Deputy knows, the trend is not peculiar to Ireland. It occurs in all developing countries.

The Parliamentary Secretary is talking like the Minister for Transport and Power now.

Surely he remembers that the President told us at one time that the population could be increased to 20 million if Fianna Fáil were elected?

He also told us that nobody was worth more than £1,000 a year.