Poor performance penalties urged after BBC row

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The Independent Online

The Jonathan Ross furore shows contracts should include penalties for poor performances as well as bonuses for good performance, the Government was told today.

More than 30,000 people have complained to the BBC after Ross and fellow BBC presenter Russell Brand made prank calls to actor Andrew Sachs.

Brand yesterday resigned from the corporation and Ross, who is reported to earn £16,000 a day, is suspended while an investigation is completed into the incident.

Tory Baroness Gardner of Parkes said at question time during exchanges on private sector pay that it was "unsatisfactory" that people could perform very badly and still get great bonuses.

She asked: "Why can there not be contracts that enclose penalty clauses as well as bonuses? The public in fact are very dissatisfied at the moment that the BBC employee who is suspended is going to earn £16,000 for doing nothing on a pretty regular basis."

Lord Davies of Oldham, for ministers, said: "I'm not sure the issue with Jonathan Ross is about bad performances, it is about one particular incident which is being examined at the present time so I don't believe we ought to rush to judgment on that.

"It is a matter for the BBC and as the nation is showing it expects the BBC to make a response to the errors which have occurred."

He said that "public opinion expects good performance only" to be rewarded.