MP asks Parliament to give Compact more bite

Levitt's 10-minute rule bill has cross-party and voluntary sector backing

A bill that would put the Commission for the Compact on a statutory footing has come before Parliament.

Labour MP Tom Levitt said there was "a unique opportunity to make the Compact more real and more relevant" when he presented his 10-minute rule bill to the Commons on Tuesday.

Levitt's bill, which has cross-party support as well as wide backing in the voluntary sector, is designed to give the Compact more bite.

The Compact, which was introduced in 1998 to outline how the voluntary and public sectors should behave towards each other, is currently a voluntary agreement that many regard as toothless and too easily ignored.

"Many in the third sector are frustrated that the undoubted political commitment to the Compact may not have been translated consistently into government practice," Levitt told the Commons.

The High Peak MP's bill calls for the Commission for the Compact, which was established in 2007, to be given a "limited number of new powers and duties".

These include establishing the commission as "a permanent, independent statutory body" with "powers of investigation where there have been inconsistencies with Compact principles, access to relevant information and the ability to impose a duty on others to cooperate with its investigations."

Levitt told Third Sector it would not be appropriate to give the commission stronger powers beyond naming and shaming because "having hard and fast rules is outside the spirit of the Compact".

He conceded that the bill, which is due for its second reading in October, had little chance of becoming law during the current parliamentary year.

"At least we have got a bill prepared and published," he said. "It has been flagged up and presented and has cross-party support.

"If I, or someone with similar inclinations, comes high in the private member's ballot in October, there is a good chance it could be got through in what is likely to be a curtailed year next year."

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