09/01/2018 15:21 GMT | Updated 09/01/2018 17:21 GMT

Anti-Feminist MP Philip Davies Defends Women In BBC Pay Row

Nobody expected that.

Anti-feminist MP Philip Davies has waded into the row over equal pay at the BBC - on behalf of women.

The controversial Conservative MP - a keen supporter of men’s rights activism - told the Commons some senior male members of the staff at the broadcaster are paid too much.

His intervention came after the SNP’s Hannah Bardell tabled an urgent question on the resignation of China editor Carrie Gracie, who stepped down in protest at men being paid more than women for doing the same job. 

Davies, who said the case showed the BBC had been acting illegally, said: “It isn’t the fact that women are the BBC are paid too little, it’s the fact that many men at the BBC are paid too much and that those salaries should be leveled down.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Carrie Gracie resigned as the BBC's China editor

Newly-appointed culture secretary Matt Hancock, who said the broadcaster should act as a “beacon” for the rest of the industry in demonstrating fariness, said he was surprised to hear Davies making the case on behalf of female employees.

“I didn’t expect, on my first day in the job, to be lobbied in favour of women’s rights from the honourable member, but I am glad to see progress pervading even our own backbenches,” he said. 

Bardell called for the government to challenge the BBC on its gender pay gap record.

She said: “Carrie Gracie’s open letter makes for shocking reading. She talks of a ‘crisis of trust’ and the breaking of ‘equality law’. These are grave and serious allegations that must be urgently addressed by this government and by the BBC.

PA Wire/PA Images
The SNP's Hannah Bardell

“Despite equality legislation and the BBC being forced to publish its pay, it seems little has changed. I understand today that the UK’s equality watchdog is to write to the BBC following Carrie’s resignation and I hope real action will be taken.

“How many talented women need to resign and be lost before the BBC and other media organisations and broadcasters take notice and take action? They should not have to be raked over the coals and dragged kicking and screaming to change.”

Hancock said the government would “watch closely” to ensure the broadcaster takes appropriate action to address its issues.

“We expect the BBC to observe pay restraint and deliver value for money for licence fee payers,” he added.

“The BBC must act because the brilliant women working at all levels of the BBC deserve better.”