The UK government has waded into the BBC gender pay row with new Culture Secretary Matt Hancock calling for the British pubcaster to act on the issue. This comes after the broadcaster was accused of having a “secretive and illegal pay culture” by Carrie Gracie, the BBC’s former China Editor, who resigned her position over pay practices.

Hancock, on his first day in the job following Karen Bradley’s promotion to Northern Ireland Secretary, called for a “root and branch analysis” of BBC pay practices.

“As a treasured national institution, the BBC must not only uphold but be a beacon for the British values of fairness that this nation holds dear and this includes fair pay and equal pay for jobs,” Hancock said in response to an Urgent Question at the House of Commons.

“Working for the BBC is public service and a great privilege, yet some men at the BBC are paid far more than other equivalent other public servants. The BBC have begun to act and I welcome that but more action, much more action is need, especially when BBC foreign editors can earn more than her majesty’s ambassadors in the same jurisdiction.”

Hancock added that the government would hold the BBC to account over its promise to close its gender pay gap by 2020. “The BBC must act because of the brilliant women working at all levels deserve better,” he added.

Additionally, the BBC is to be forced to provide further details of its pay policy to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) after the British government’s equalities regulator revealed it was considering whether to take further action against following Gracie’s resignation.