HC Deb 23 April 1998 vol 310 cc962-3
10. Mr. Gareth R. Thomas (Harrow, West)

What discussions he has had with representatives of the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd. [38251]

19. Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde)

What plans he has to modify the regulations governing the financial transactions between credit unions and their members.[38262]

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mrs. Helen Liddell)

Credit unions play an important role in encouraging savings and providing low-cost credit. I have met the Association of British Credit Unions to discuss its ideas for strengthening the credit union movement and plan to see the association again soon. We are examining ways to promote the further growth of credit unions by easing some current restrictions while continuing the movement's current focus on the less well-off. We will announce our intentions shortly.

Mr. Thomas

I am grateful for that reply. Does my hon. Friend agree that credit unions provide an especially valuable service to people on a low income who live in areas from which the high street banks have withdrawn? Will she assure the House that the Treasury is committed to furthering the growth of credit unions and will actively consider proposals from the Association of British Credit Unions to allow, for example, credit unions to borrow capital from external bodies other than banks and to offer a broader range of financial services to their members?

Mrs. Liddell

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. We are examining the proposals that he mentions. Credit unions play a significant role in helping the low paid. We are developing that approach as we seek to eliminate the social exclusion caused by the previous Government that has resulted in many people not having access to conventional financial services. Access to financial services can be a route out of poverty. I commend the work done by many hundreds of people throughout the United Kingdom in operating credit unions.