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Credit Unions

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

Following my announcement in November 2006 of a review of co-operatives legislation—principally the Industrial and Provident Society Acts and Credit Unions Act—the Treasury has been carrying out research and holding informal discussions with representatives of the sector and other stakeholders.

I am now able to announce the publication of the first stage of a two-stage consultation to be undertaken by the Treasury, which will seek to identify the legislative needs of cooperatives and credit unions and put forward the most effective solutions. The aim of the review is not to give mutuality a privileged position but to allow the whole mutual sector—including building societies and friendly societies—to compete on a level playing field and to remove artificial restrictions that do not provide any benefit to members.

The focus of the review is on cooperatives and credit unions because their legislation is the oldest and most disparate. Important changes to the legislation have been made in recent years, particularly, through the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 2002, and the Co-operatives and Community Benefit Societies Act 2003

This review will build on that earlier work, clarify the needs of the sector and identify the right outcomes. The review will impact on over 8,000 industrial and provident societies and over 500 credit unions.

The first stage of the review will close for responses on 12 September 2007. We hope to begin the second stage as soon as possible thereafter. Copies of the review are available in the Vote Office and Libraries of both Houses and will be published on the Treasury website.