BBC must be subjected to more scrutiny over equal pay, says MP

The BBC has not inspired "confidence" or provided "reassurance" that issues of equal pay are being dealt with in the "long term", MP Maria Miller has said.

A review, commissioned by the BBC and published on Tuesday, found there was "no evidence of gender bias in pay decision-making".

Ms Miller, Tory MP for Basingstoke and chairwoman of the Women And Equalities Select Committee, said she feared that some of the action taken so far had been a "sticking plaster" for the cases of pay unfairness and equality raised by women and men at the broadcaster.

Maria Miller (Yui Mok/PA)
Maria Miller (Yui Mok/PA)

"On the one hand, PricewaterhouseCoopers (the review's authors) are saying that there is a lack of consistent evaluation and transparency in the way pay is allocated.

"Yet, on the other hand, they are saying there is absolutely no evidence that this is anything to do with gender," she told the Press Association.

"The lack of evidence does not mean to say there is not a causal link. It's just they haven't identified any evidence to make that causal link."

She has been calling on the Equality And Human Rights Commission, which has already written to the BBC over its former China editor Carrie Gracie, to use its "muscular statutory powers" over the issue.

She said: "There is a lack of independent scrutiny of what is going on in a very large public body ... They just aren't giving me the confidence. If they can find no evidence that there's any link to pay discrimination because of sex, perhaps they're just not looking hard enough?"

Since July, around 230 cases of pay unfairness and equality have been raised at the BBC by men and women.

Ms Miller said: "We have to be confident that this hasn't just been a sticking plaster for the more than 200 cases that have been reported to them ... We need to be reassured that it is being dealt with for the long term."

BBC director-general Tony Hall (Lauren Hurley/PA)
BBC director-general Tony Hall (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Her comments come as BBC Director-General Tony Hall and the broadcaster's former China editor Gracie, who resigned from her role in protest at inequalities, will appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

The review said there was a "lack of clarity and openness about the basis for pay decisions" at the BBC.

The BBC identified 188 roles in need of "upward pay adjustment" but they involve more men - 98 - than women, 90.

BBC Women, which includes presenters such as Jane Garvey, Mishal Husain and Victoria Derbyshire, criticised the on-air review, saying: "There's been no transparency on which individuals were included or why."

And Garvey told Radio 4's World At One: "Without being overly cynical, I might venture to suggest that PwC has delivered the report that the BBC asked for."

On Tuesday night, Lord Hall, who earns between £450,000 and £499,999, said he is "extremely well paid" but had not taken a pay cut.