Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Emigration Figures.

Peter Barry

Question:

18 Mr. Barry asked the Taoiseach the figures for emigration for (a) the latest available date and (b) the corresponding dates for each year from 1987 to 1989 inclusive.

In the absence of comprehensive documentary or other administrative procedures relating to the movement of persons into and out of the State, migration estimates are made annually using current population estimates and data on births and deaths. These migration estimates are for the net balance between inward and outward flows in the 12 month period to mid-April each year. Estimates are not available for periods other than the twelve months to mid-April. The estimates for the three most recent periods are as follows:

Year to Mid-April

Estimated Net Migration

(– = outward flow)

1987

– 27,000

1988

– 32,000

1989

– 46,000

The net migration estimate for the 12 month period to mid-April 1990 will, in accordance with normal practice, become available during August next but present indications are that the 1989 figures will be substantially reduced.

Is the Minister of State not concerned that the very clear trend for the last three 12 month periods is up? Will he also agree that the same qualifications apply to the figures for each year so that the movement in those figures, while it may not reveal the whole picture, certainly reveals a trend? Will the Minister of State further agree that the movement of those figures makes nonsense of the kind of gloss which the Government have been trying to put on the economy which tends to indicate that things are moving in the opposite direction? Is it not clear that the trend is definitely upwards and that, in relation to the three years to which the Minister referred, it is a rapid trend upwards?

The question is essentially statistical and, therefore, policy matters should not arise.

I am not asking about policy matters, I am asking the Minister what he reads into it. If the answer was purely statistical the Minister of State could have chosen to circulate a tabular statement, in the normal way. I think I am right in saying that when the Minister gives a reply in the form in which it has just been given the matter is open for further supplementaries. Therefore, I will repeat my question. Will the Minister of State agree that the trends in the figures he indicated are strongly upwards? Will he further agree that those trends are more realistic than and out of keeping with the kind of picture which the Government have been trying to paint for the last two years?

I must repeat my view that the question is essentially statistical.

The trend for the period 1989-90 clearly indicates that emigration figures are coming down substantially.

Substantially lower than what? Substantially lower than the figures for the previous year?

The Deputy will have the exact figures.

We now come to questions nominated for priority and I seek the co-operation of the Members concerned to dispose of them within the prescribed time laid down by Standing Orders.