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Written Answers. - Credit Union Regulations.

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 No. 3

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 22. Mr. E. Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  the progress, if any, made in revising the regulations governing credit unions; when he intends bringing forward legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4517/96]

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 81 on Thursday, 25 January 1996, Volume 460, No. 5, columns 1395-6.

I would also say that the publication of this Bill at the earliest possible date is a high priority with me. It is a priority because of the importance of the credit union movement in our society. The movement is all-Ireland with more than 500 individual credit unions, four-fifths of them in the Republic. Total membership is in the order of one and three-quarter million people and membership in recent years has been growing at around 10 per cent per annum on average. The credit unions' combined loan book in 1994 was estimated at £1.3 billion and lending was growing at something in the order of 20 per cent per annum.

All of this has been achieved by a movement based on notions of voluntarism, the common bond, community, and self-help. It is a movement that has created a very significant financial services organisation that commands the loyalty of its members, delivers service and value and does all of this outside the framework of private ownership and the profit motive. I value all of this and what is has contributed to local, family, personal and social development on this island, North and South.

The movement is now well-placed to grow in significance and to add enormously to the range of services it provides to its members. This will provide strong competition for the privately [742] owned for-profit credit institutions in particular segments of financial services. This is all for the good of our society and economy.

However, if all of this is to happen, the legal framework, the supervisory and regulatory regime within which the movement operates will need significant updating. That is the purpose of the Bill now in preparation. I see this Bill as a radical measure. It will consolidate and update legislation, and it will provide the framework for the expansion of the credit unions into new areas of service to their members. That is why I attach such high priority to the completion of the drafting of the Bill and I look forward to introducing the Bill to this House at the earliest possible opportunity.


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