HC Deb 25 May 1938 vol 336 cc1228-9W
Mr. David Adams

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what information has reached him recently as to the state of employment in Jamaica; and if he will supply the House with such information as may be available as to fluctuations in employment in particular works and factories?

Mr. M. MacDonald

The general situation as regards employment in Jamaica has been under consideration by my predecessor and the Governor of Jamaica for more than a year. A memorandum furnished by the Governor in March, 1937, set out the extent of the problem and indicated the steps that were to be taken to deal with it. A copy of this memorandum is being placed in the Library of the House.

During the past year considerable progress has been made with road construction, land settlement and re-housing. I would refer to the reply returned to the hon. Member on the 18th of May showing the extent to which loan funds are being expended on works calculated to relieve unemployment.

As regards the second part of the question, no machinery exists in Jamaica for recording unemployment figures, and there are consequently no statistics relative to the fluctuations of employment in particular works and factories. A rough estimate for the sugar industry has, however, been given as follows:

Men. Women.
Labourers employed in factories and cane cultivations:
In crop season 22,195 8,825
Out of crop 13,623 6,004
Employed on large and small cane farms:
In crop season 5,500 2,200
Out of crop 3.400 1,500
Skilled labourers:
In crop season 2,181
Out of crop 1,288

These figures were based on the 1935–36 crop. The crop of 1937–38 was approximately one-third larger than this, and it may reasonably be assumed that the number of labourers has increased in the same proportion. The number of skilled labourers will also have increased, though not perhaps in proportion to the increase in the crop.