clear committment to an antipoverty strategy. Of primary importance is an improvement in financial support for families with children, primarily through Child Benefit and Supplementary Benefit.
In the long run, Child Benefit should be high enough to ensure that extra benefit wouldn't be needed anyway. Resources should be shared out more fairly, through tax reform, with special provision made for groups like the long-term unemployed."
Julian Filochowski: CAFOD
"WE are hoping that the next government will make a massive committment to Sub-Saharan Africa and will provide adequate financial assistance of a quality which will help the poorest of the poor in those countries. We hope it will reach the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of our Gross National Product to be spent on overseas development.
Initiatives should also be taken to relieve the burden of debt on countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The arms trade must also be limited in those conflict areas which are currently being fuelled by First World arms, an arms trade which is so debilitating to development in the Third World."
Clare Prangley: Pax Christi
"WE will urge the new government not to continue with the Trident programme and to decommission all British nuclear weapons as soon as possible and to enter into immediate negotiations for a comprehensive test ban treaty. We will also press for the removal of all US nuclear bases from Britain and for serious consideration to be given to nonmilitary means of defence. The new government must also divert money from the arms race to improve conditions for the poor both home and abroad.
We also hope that the government will make the connection between all pro-life issues and be conscious of the sanctity of life at all stages, from conception to old age. This means not only protecting the unborn, but also making sure that everyone has the basic necessities for living a life of human dignity.
This means being opposed to weapons of mass destruction. Another priority must be to solve the problems of Northern Ireland, not by increasing security measures, but by applying economic and political solutions which reflect a desire for justice for the whole community."
Paul Cavadino, National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders
"THE United Kingdom has the highest prison population in the EEC, our prisons are desperately overcrowded and 60 per cent of released prisoners rapidly reoffend. Against this background the new government should take determined action to reduce the use of prison for nonviolent offenders. We need tighter restrictions on the courts'power to imprison and
shorter sentences for many less serious offenders.
At the same time, the government should produce a code of minimum standards for prisons and announce a timetable for its implementation. If we seriously want to reduce offending by exprisoners, after-care must not be an afterthought. Preparation for release should become a central priority of prison regimes; prisoners' opportunities for contact with their families must be increased; increased resources must be provided for hostels for homeless ex-prisoners; and urgent steps must be taken to increase ex-prisoners' access to employment and training schemes immediately on release."
Keith Davies, LIFE
"THERE are two key areas which the government should address.
The first is the issue of creation of embryos for research. At the moment it is totally unregulated. Scientists can do what they want with them in experiments, in fact they can create them just for experiments.
The other area is that of late abortions. The general public must become increasingly concerned about the 28 week /knit. We shall be lobbying new members to reduce the period to 20 weeks. We also hope that there will be government time set aside to deal with these issues, so that we don't have to rely on private members' bills."