HC Deb 16 January 1975 vol 884 cc658-9
6. Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will publish in the Official Report such figures as are available to indicate the approximate numbers of people who have left Northern Ireland to reside in other parts of the United Kingdom or abroad during the last 12 months.

Mr. Concannon

No precise figures are available but I shall publish details on the subject in the Official Report.

Mr. Beith

I welcome the Minister's intention to give details. Will he comment on the situation which newspapers have described, in which the campaign of violence seems to have ensured that, whatever the political future of Northern Ireland, it will have suffered by the loss of a number of skilled professional people and tradesmen? Does he not agree that this is also a reminder of the courage of those who carry on their normal working life in Northern Ireland during these difficulties?

Mr. Concannon

Without doubt, one is amazed at the courage of ordinary working-class people and others who attend their work in the conditions of Northern Ireland. What the hon. Gentleman has said about violence being a factor in emigration is important. There are a number of factors, and we are watching the trends very closely. They are difficult to sort out.

Mr. Kilfedder

Will the hon. Gentleman examine the consequences of the outward flow of persons on the economic future of the Province? The skills which people are taking with them are those skills which will be needed for the rebuilding of Northern Ireland. Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there is already evidence of a shortage of doctors and nurses in Northern Ireland and that some general practitioners who are retiring are not being replaced? Will he look urgently into these matters?

Mr. Concannon

The Department of Manpower is actively looking at this matter. This is something which is exercising our minds to a great extent in Northern Ireland.

Following is the information:

1. The estimate of 12,500 for 1973 for net migration to all destinations is based on changes in the numbers of people on the electoral register as compared with the previous year and on figures for the natural increase in population. Another calculation, based on the transfers of national insurance records, suggests that the figure of net migration to Great Britain alone in 1973—excluding other places—was 13,500.

2. Net migration between 1966 and 1971 has been estimated at an annual average of around 6,600. There is evidence that the real figure towards the end of the period was much higher than this annual average and has increased since 1971.

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