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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Managing Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Recruitment Genius: Advertisement Sales Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A publishing company based in F...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Affiliates & Partnerships

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Structural Engineer

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Structural Engineer ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor