BBC Work Force

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 5th September 2013.

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Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield 9:30 am, 5th September 2013

What recent discussions she has had with the BBC Trust about that BBC attracting a more diverse work force.

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The BBC’s work force and output should reflect the diversity of Britain today. My Department and I have had regular discussions with the BBC about this, and in May 2013 I wrote to the director-general seeking his support for our “Think, Act, Report” initiative. I encourage all broadcasters to tap into the creative talents of everyone in the UK, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or disability.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour, Huddersfield

Is the Secretary of State aware, though, that if one asks those at the BBC how many people they employ have been state educated, they look very shifty and drop John Humphrys into the conversation. It is a fact, in my experience, that very many of the senior personnel in the BBC are from private, independent school backgrounds. Is it not about time that this great corporation opened its doors to talent from the state sector as well?

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that there should be transparency across the BBC’s activities. As a state-educated Secretary of State, I think we should be proud of people who have had a state education and have leading positions in this country.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Does the Secretary of State agree that the biggest problem with the lack of diversity at the BBC is the political viewpoint of the people who work there? To that end, what is she saying to Lord Hall, who has started by recruiting James Purnell to a highly paid job without any advert whatsoever, and he has started to recruit his new Labour chums to senior positions in the BBC too? Does she agree that it should be the British Broadcasting Corporation, not the Blairite Broadcasting Corporation?

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is of course absolutely right that the impartiality of the BBC is one of its cornerstones and is vital. I always keep these things under careful review.