New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock calls for wage equality between men and women at the BBC
Matt Hancock has called on the BBC to introduce "equal pay for equal jobs" as he waded into the row caused by the resignation of its China editor Carrie Gracie.
The highly-respected journalist accused the corporation of having a "secretive and illegal pay culture", with male employees being paid more than their female colleagues.
Figures released in July last year revealed that two-thirds of BBC stars earning more than £150,000 were men.
The broadcaster has insisted there is "no systemic discrimination against women", but addressing the Commons for the first time since his promotion to the Cabinet, Mr Hancock said the corporation could do better.
"Like most members of this House I strongly support the BBC and like most licence fee payers I would go as far to say that I love it…," he said.
"But as a treasured national institution, the BBC must not only uphold but be a beacon for the British values of fairness that this nation hold dear – and that includes fair pay and equal pay for equal jobs."
Citing the expected disclosure of on-air presenter salaries in the coming weeks, he added: “We will watch closely. The BBC must act because the brilliant women working at all levels at the BBC deserve better.”
The minister also criticised the disproportionately high salaries of some male presenters compared to other public servants, such as top diplomats.
“Working for the BBC is a public service and a great privilege yet some men are paid more than other equivalent public servants,” he said.
“The BBC have begun to act and I welcome that, but more action, much more action is needed, especially when BBC foreign editors can earn more than Her Majesty’s ambassadors in the same jurisdiction…”