Statutory Compact 'is unrealistic'

Most people who ask for the Compact to be made statutory have no idea how it could be done, according to Richard Corden, chief executive of the Commission for the Compact.

Corden told the Charity Law Association conference last week that advocates of statutory powers for the Compact, such as Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, tended to fall silent when asked how it could be enshrined in law.

He said: "It is not a description of a process they want to happen; it is an expression of intense frustration at the Government's inability to arrange its affairs so that its departments fully and consistently meet their obligations to the sector."

He said the problem was not a lack of political will but "simple management failure". But he admitted a way needed to be found to enforce Compact compliance "without frightening the Government horses".

About 80 per cent of his audience, mostly lawyers, said they had heard of the Compact, but none had found it useful.

Corden said it was unrealistic to expect the Government to agree to a bill that would compel it to do what it hadn't done for the past nine years.

Earlier last week, Sir Bert Massie, Commissioner for the Compact, told a Compact debate in Birmingham organised by his office that statutory powers would weaken rather than strengthen the agreement (Third Sector Online, 9 September).

Simon Blake, chair of Compact Voice, agreed. "We do not believe the Compact should be statutory," he said. "We have talked about it a lot and believe there are lots of other things we could do."

- See Editorial, page 12.

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