At last! A chance for MPs to show they’re not the only ones in the trough

Sketch

For the MPs, it was sweet revenge. After all those months in which they endured accusations of having their collective noses in the trough, at last they could make someone else suffer, as representatives from the BBC yesterday described to the Public Accounts Committee the benefits enjoyed by their upper management.

It was reminiscent of that seminal 1970s comedy sketch about social class featuring John Cleese and the two Ronnies. Someone on an average salary might look up in envy at an MP, on £65,738 a year plus expenses, but imagine the green eyed jealousy of an MP hearing about the mountain of loot that a BBC high honcho takes home.

Anthony Fry, from the BBC Trust did a reasonable job of defusing their envy by stressing how much it had pained him personally to see the former Director General, George Entwistle, depart with a £450,000 pay off, plus extras, after 54 days in the job. That pay off was already public knowledge. What excited the committee was the previously unrevealed details of the rest of the package  - a pension pot that will give Mr Entwistle an income of around £48,000 a year, for life, plus up to £10,000 towards any legal fees he incurred negotiating his golden goodbye, and up to another £10,000 to be spent on advice on how to deal with the resulting publicity, and a year’s subscription to Bupa.

The gasps were audible. How many other BBC bigwigs were having their Bupa membership paid for by the licence payer, the committee’s chairwoman, Margaret Hodge wanted to know. Sensing that the answer was not going to do much for the popularity of the corporation’s upper management, the chief financial officer, Zarin Patel, decided to talk about something else.  She was cut short by the Tory MP, who crossly insisted that she answer the question. Ms Patel looked furious, but reluctantly let on that the perk is enjoyed by hundreds of “senior” managers. The precise number came out later – 574 of them, at an annual cost of £2m, though the scheme is closed to new entrants.

After the MPs had absorbed that surprise, which Ms Hodge described as a “real shocker”, they returned to Mr Fry and his explanation of why it might have cost the BBC as much in cash and possibly more in damaged morale to have sacked their former Director General instead of letting him walk out on such generous terms.  “Please don’t get the impression that I feel good about this,” he pleaded. “I feel very, very bad.”

“The licence fee payers are I am sure very interested in your feelings,” Mr Bacon replied. “I am touched. I feel your pain.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graphic and Motion Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Supervisor & Advisor - Automotive

£16500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's leading...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones