All-party quiz on world problems
The world energy crisis, exploitation of the oceans, aid for poor countries and world disarmament. These may not have been the main General Election issues, but they are vital questions to supporters of the United Nations' Association, and were import ant enough to prompt the Friern Barnet UNA branch to canvass the opinions of the three Parliamentary candidates in Finchley last week. All three candidates are members of the United Nations' Association and their answers to the questionnaire reveal a large measure of agreement on most of the issues.
Here are the questions and the views of the candidates—Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (Conservative), Mr. Martin O'Connor (Labour) and Mr. Laurence Brass (Liberal):——
What are your views on the French proposal for a world conference on energy and the proposal for a special session of the UN assembly to plan more equitable distribution of raw materials?
We agree with the French on the need for full international discussion of energy problems. A programme of work agreed in Washington early in February is intended to meet this need, but unfortunately the French Government have not accepted it.
The proposal for planning distribution of raw materials has been accepted by the Conservatives and by all Common Market governments.
The world energy crisis can only be solved by international co-operation. There must be agreement on the long-term view of resources as well as the immediate question of oil. France has been conspicuously obstructive on the matter so far.
The UN assembly must be concerned with the long-term planned development of production and as much with pricing as with distribution.
Liberals believe a permanent energy commission must be established to advise the British Government on energy policy and on the implications of policies in other countries.
The problems of the environment and energy are international problems and need action through international agencies such as the UN.
Should the British Government support the internationalisation of sea beds outside individual countries' territorial waters and should such areas be licensed by the UN?
Both ideas have merit but would require careful consideration before committing Britain.
Harmful exploitation of sea beds must be prevented by international agreement. Conservatives have proposed international licensing.
Agrees with both proposals.
Should Britain work towards the UN target of 0.7 per cent. of the gross national product for official aid for under-developed countries?
The target is too small, but failure to achieve the recommended level is a matter of shame and also for immediate action.
Our target should be at least one per cent. by 1975—in the form of interest-free loans with a 10-year period of grace for capital repayments.
Conservatives accept the UN target of one per cent. for aid from combined official and private sources. It is more realistic than a target of 0.7 per cent. from official aid alone, which is difficult to achieve in the present economic situation.
Should Britain work within the Common Market and else-where for the granting of aid from the European Development Fund to countries with the greatest need, and the modification of tariffs to give easier access of all goods from developing countries?
When Britain begins contributing to the fund next February we should apply the principle of giving aid to the most needy.
Britain supports the EEC scheme of generalised trade preferences for exports from developing countries, and significant improvements have already been obtained. We will continue to work for further improvements.
We would like to avoid the attachment of strings if more aid was channelled through multilateral agencies. The aid would also be more likely to reach those countries which really need it.
Agrees with both proposals, but has grave doubts on whether the EEC is ever likely to be a suitable vehicle for such activity.
Should Britain work for world disarmament by reducing arms expenditure by 10 per cent. and by collaborating with the UN on a world disarmament conference?
Supports all attempts to secure arms reductions and the furtherance of disarmament.
A strong advocate of the need to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear and other weapons. The long-term objective is to create a peaceful and united Europe and we should use our membership of NATO to further this end.
A simple 10 per cent. arms reduction throughout the world would still leave Russia and the Warsaw Pact countries in a far stronger position than NATO countries. The Soviet Union will not disclose details of her military expenditure or allow her military programme to be inspected. Our goal on disarmament should be a comprehensive and controlled agreement reached by stages in which the security of all countries is guaranteed.
Conservatives are in favour of a world disarmament conference provided it is carefully prepared so as to obtain practical results and provided all nuclear powers participate.