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Lord Roper remembered

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05 Feb 16

Tributes have been paid to Lord Roper, the pioneer of British credit union legislation, who has died at the age of 80.

The Liberal Democrat Peer was one of the first politicians to champion the credit union movement in Parliament. In May 1972, when he was the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Farnworth in Greater Manchester, John Roper sought to introduce a Private Member’s Bill “to make provision for the registration, incorporation and administration of credit unions by applying with modifications and amendments the provisions of the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 – 1968 to them.”

Although his proposal enjoyed support across the House of Commons, it would take seven years of continued campaigning with the backing of the fledgling British credit union movement and supportive organisations before the Government’s Credit Union Act 1979 was passed by Parliament – a piece of legislation which was almost identical to John Roper’s Private Member’s Bill.

His Parliamentary colleague Lord Newby – who spoke at last year’s ABCUL Annual Conference – said: “John was, throughout his life, a great servant to social democracy and liberal politics in Britain.

“John served as chief whip in both the Commons and the Lords and proved to be a natural in the role. He was a great mentor of mine, a fine European and a widely respected chief whip. He will be deeply missed.”

ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “From its earliest days, the British credit union movement has sought the legislative and regulatory framework which recognises the credit union model and enables credit unions to expand and grow to offer their services to everyone.

“Lord Roper played a crucial role in putting credit unions on the British legislative agenda. Having caught the ‘credit union bug’ as a student in the USA, he was a passionate advocate for the sector and a true friend to the movement for many years. He will be fondly remembered for his contribution to the history and development of Britain’s credit unions.”

Speaking to ABCUL’s Credit Union News on the 25th anniversary of the Credit Union Act in 2004, Lord Roper said: “I very much hope that the next quarter-century will see further growth and development of this essential part of our financial system, and I look forward to the day when credit unions play as important a part amongst British financial institutions as they do in the United States.”

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