Statutory powers would weaken Compact, says Massie

The Commissioner for the Compact, Sir Bert Massie, today came out against giving the Compact statutory powers.

There has been growing pressure for the voluntary agreement, which outlines how the public and voluntary sector should behave towards each other, to be reinforced with statutory powers.

But Sir Bert said that could ‘weaken rather than strengthen' the agreement.

"If we had a statutory Compact, it would have to give obligations to the third sector as well as the statutory sector because the Compact is a two-sided thing," he told about 150 delegates in Birmingham at a debate on the future of the Compact.

"A statutory Compact would also need to go through Parliament. I think that in that journey it would be weakened rather than strengthened.

"It would be wiser to keep the legal status of the Compact as it is now."

However, Massie called for his commission to be given greater powers.

"We are suggesting that the commission should be established as an independent body by an Act of Parliament," he said.

"We need powers to investigate when the Compact appears to be ignored. We need to report to Parliament on what we find."

Massie also called for the five codes of practice to be merged into one document and to extend the commission's board to include people from local and national government.

Today's debate is the main event in the ongoing review of the Compact, which is 10 years old this autumn.

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