David Cameron: Compact will be refreshed and renewed

But Prime Minister says nothing about statutory powers for Commission for the Compact

David Cameron has pledged to "refresh and renew" the Compact, but did not give any indication that the government would give the Commission for the Compact statutory powers.

Speaking at the launch of the big society agenda on Tuesday, Cameron said the Compact - the public and voluntary sector fair play agreement created by Labour in 1998 - had been "honoured more in the breach than the observance".

He said he wanted to make sure it "really means something", adding: "One of the early bits of work, I think, is to refresh and renew that Compact."

A refreshed version of the Compact was published last year after a lengthy consultation process. Asked whether Cameron's comments meant there would be another consultation on the future of the Compact, a Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "Full details on each policy will be published in due course."

Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact, said: "Although the Compact was refreshed last year, the new agenda relating to the big society might mean that we need to examine how the Compact relates to the private sector and whether further changes are needed."

After running a consultation last year, Labour agreed to support moves to give the commission statutory powers to investigate Compact breaches and submit an annual report to Parliament.

But no legislation was passed before the election and neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats pledged to give the commission statutory powers in their manifestos. "I hope it will prove possible to take these initiatives forward," said Massie.

Oliver Reichardt, head of the Compact team at Compact Voice, which represents the voluntary sector on the Compact, said: "It's great that the Prime Minister recognises the vital role of the Compact in building better relationships between public bodies and civil society.

"With many groups worried about the impact of spending cuts, it is more important than ever that we have a fully implemented Compact."

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