BY A STAFF REPORTER
MORE than a million people called for more positive action to combat world poverty in the National Sign-In launched last December. It was organised by the Churches Action for World Development.
A final total of 1,062,039 people aged 17 and over put their signatures to the declaration that "mass hunger, disdisease and illiteracy are intolerable anywhere in the world," and that "to obtain justice among men, the international financing and trading system can and must be changed.
They call on their M.P.s to support "the achievement by 1972 of the target of 1 per cent of the Gross National Product of the U.K. for overseas aid, with at least three-quarters allocated in the form of effective Government aid," and the negotiation by Britain of trade agreements favourable to the poorer countries.
The declaration ended : "We hereby commit ourselves to continuing action for world development."
The Churches Action for World Development is a committee representative of the British Council of Churches, the Catholic Commission for International Justice and Peace, and the Conference of British Missionary Societies.
Its chairman, Bishop Kenneth Sansbury, said: "We are only at the beginning of a long-term programme of education and political action in support of more and better aid for the poor countries and of trade relationships which will help rather than hinder them."
Action for World Development is fostering the growth of local study and action groups, of which there are already 130 throughout the country.
The Government claims that between now and 1973 it will he increasing the rate of official spending on aid by one-third.
But the Overseas Development Institute, the independent research body founded in 1960, calculates that when factors such as capital repayments are taken into account, the flow of aid from Britain by 1973/74 will still amount to only 0.48 per cent of the Gross National Product.