asked the Minister for Local Government the average number of men employed on road works for the year 1953-54 and at the latest available date; and the reasons for the decline.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Employment on Road Works.
The average monthly number of persons employed on road works was 20,528 for the year 1953-54 and 11,919 for 1968-69 up to the end of February, 1969. These figures do not include employment on works carried out under the Urban Employment or Rural Employment Schemes.
The decline in employment on road works would appear to be inevitable in view of the increasing use by local authorities of modern methods of road construction and maintenance, necessitated by increasing costs of both labour and materials. I should mention that these methods have resulted in a significant increase in productivity on road works. For example, the cost of improving a representative mile of county road was in the region of £3,500 and has now been reduced to £1,200 or less. Again, despite substantial increases in wages and materials the cost of surface dressing has been retained at approximately the level which obtained over ten years ago.
Will the Minister not agree that it is a retrograde step for the Government to put 9,000 people out of work who were employed by the county councils of Ireland? Will the Minister not also agree that that is primarily due to the fact that road grants were cut in 1967-68 and 1968-69? Will he not further agree that if the £1,600,000 mentioned by Deputy James Dillon as being raided from the Road Fund, was returned to the county councils they could give extra employment to those 9,000 county council people who have been driven out of work?
The Deputy's figures for the reduction of employment are wrong. There was no money taken from the Road Fund.
You told me those figures.
A greater amount of work is being done on the roads at the present time than at any time in the past.
It is all moonshine. There are 9,000 fewer people employed because you have raided the Road Fund.