Robins Rafferty. director of the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS)
IN my opinion. the priority for the incoming government must be to devise a properly co-ordinated housing policy which outlines the needs across the community, and then puts forward a strategy for meeting those needs. At the moment. what we've had is a series of uncordinated initiatives which might have met particular needs, but which have failed to address the overall situation.
A new building programme is another priority. I believe, for the new government. There has not been anything like enough housing built in recent years, and so a wide-ranging scheme is a must.
What we desperately need in this country is some sort of crossparty consensus on housing. The problems are so great that it would be impossible to address them all satisfactorily within the lifetime of one government, so the parties really need to agree to some general principles if were to see the situation changed.
Fr John Medcalf, parish priest of St Peter's, Shoreham-by-Sea. West Sussex.
MANY of the issues I'd like to see addressed weren't even on the agendas of any of the parties during the election campaign things like Northern Ireland, aid for the Soviet Union and the third world.
From a local point of view, as a resident in an ordinary Sussex town, I think the incoming government must think about how to empower ordinary people so that they begin to think their views count. What I've noticed during the election campaign has been this terrible cynicism which I think is fatal. This country needs. and its people deserve, a fairer voting system. So I think the new government should look towards bringing in proportional representation, and I'd also like to see the introduction of referenda from time to time between general elections five years is much too long for people to have to wait to have their voices heard.
Julian Filochowski, director of CAFOD • the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development.
THE first thing I would like to see the government do is commit
itself to a timetable under which this country would work towards giving 0.7 per cent of our GNP to the third world that's the target set for all western countries by the UN.
But the most urgent task. I believe, is for the government to devise a proper strategy for Africa for the next five years. We're facing another colossal famine in Africa at the moment. with southern Africa affected this time, and the ommilment needed by Europe to help deal with the situation has not yet been made.
A new effort on debt is another priority. and I'd like to see the British government help launch a debt for peace initiative whereby the debt of third world countries which are in a state of war or have frontier disputes, have their debts cancelled or substantially reduced in return for freezing the conflict for 25 years or resolving it altogether.
The Earth Summit is coming up in the summer I'd like to see Britain take a lead in outlawing fferty the export of toxic waste to the third world. And finally. I hope that, as we move into the single European market. the new government will negotiate proper VAT exemption for charities.
Sir Andrew Hugh Smith, chair al the London Stock Exchange
THE first priority for the new government should be to look hard at what will, he needed to keep London as the major financial centre. It's absolutely crucial that we make sure that we arc not put at a disadvantage.
Some of the infrastructure which supports business in London transport. particularly is not as good as it should be, and I'd like to see more done to provide a better transport system for the capital.
I'd like, too, to see the distortions in the way people's savings are taxed to be ironed out.
Finally. I think it's very important that we address the
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questions of education and training.
It would he difficult to put too great an emphasis on these areas, especially at a time when our country faces greater and greater competition from other areas of the world.
Ian Feely, head of Neiman School. Hove.
OUR commitment to the poor should be top of the agenda. The real poor are now in the third world. and ther ought to be an immediate increase in the support we give to the second and third worlds.
In our own country, priority ought to be given to supporting the ideal that you educate young people to try to
create on community.
We need an educational system that is based on ideals and not just upon business and money. There has been an attempt to divert everything in the educational system towards making money avaniduelsthink we should return to
I think the way we treat the edcall
handicapped should he looked at again. too: in schools like mine. the support and local authority provision for pupils who are handicapped in some way is quite inadequate.
Mary Brogan. president elect 4 Me National Board 4 Catholic Women
DEALING with homelessness, poverty, unemployment and violence must, I believe, be the priorities for the new government. These issues often
affect women deeply unemployment, for example, is a big contributory factor in marital break-up, and homelessness tears the family from its base. The government should work towards the
alleviation of poverty. which has Increased enormously in recent years, and women are particularly affected by it. Violence, particularly marital violence, is another issue the government should address seriously. And I'd like to see government financing of women's units within local Julian authorities. which would Iormulate policy on women's issues. provide information bases for women needing help in the community. and education programmes for schools.
Archbishop Derek Worlock
Liivirm,/ IT may hase been inevitable that before the General Election the focus should he upon the economy. with consequences for industrial investment, C mployment oportunities. housing prices and taxes.
A new g overnment must now cast
its interests wider and show practical concern for third world poverty, for famine relief and development of areas afflicted with deprivation and debt.
There are many aspects of the peace we all desire. and urgent attention must be given to the initiatives opening up in Northern Ireland.
The new government's stance on education. epecially sixth form and further education, is vital for our future, as is the safeguarding of the National Health Service. And quite fundamental to good government is pro-life legislation. Now those pre-election promises must he pot to the test.
Sr Elena„vister superior of St Elizabeth's School and Home lor Women and Children with Epilepsy, Much Hadham, HertfOrdshire
I THINK moves to tackle homelessness should be high on the agenda for the incoming administration.
A lot of the people who are homeless are on the streets because of the closure of menial hospitals and other institutions they have been put into the community and they clearly cannot cope there and then end up living rough.
The social services involVelliefil with people has slipped over the last few years, and I think reform of this sector is now urgent.
In the past if I had a problem I could pick up the phone and get a social worker over to discuss a case and we could decide what to do about it now social workers are so busy, their caseloads make them almost impossible to get hold of.