§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Cork County, N.E.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to a speech delivered by the Bishop 204 of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise on the 28th ultimo at Longford, criticising the work of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction and their expenditure of public money during the past four years, and stating that all their efforts have been unsuccessful in materially reducing the flow of emigration; and if, under these circumstances, he would consider the advisability of adopting other plans and methods to provide employment for the young men and women in the small towns and villages, and to apply the funds which are at the disposal of the Department for the purpose of developing local industries
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I have seen a newspaper report of the speech. The matters dealt with are not, however, such as can properly be discussed by means of an answer to a Question. In respect to the number of emigrants from Ireland in recent years, I may point out the yearly average for the ten years from 1885 to 1894 (both inclusive) was 61,310, whilst in the subsequent period from 1895 to 1903 the yearly average fell away to 39,843—a reduction of 35 per cent. The number of emigrants in January, February, and March last arc fewer, by 538, than in the corresponding months of 1903, and lower than in any corresponding month during the past four years. The Department does not propose to depart from the general lines of policy described in its published reports. The full fruits of that policy, which is mainly educational in its operation. cannot be expected to appear for some years to come, and the Department has had sufficient evidence to confirm it in the course it has adopted in co-operation with the statutory representative bodies associated with the work of the Department. So far as the present powers of the Department admit, its funds are applied in aiding schemes for the promotion of rural industries.