EAST Renfrewshire’s MP has waded into the row over “bloated” salaries paid to the BBC’s top stars.

Paul Masterton, who has slammed the corporation’s decision to scrap free TV licences for over-75s, hit out after the salaries of those on more than £150,000 a year were revealed.

The BBC salaries bill went up from £19.8million to £21.8m in the last financial year, with 11 more presenters now earning £150,000 or more.

The list showed Graham Norton got £610,000 for his Radio 2 show and Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman earns £370,000.

Mr Masterton told the Barrhead News: “If the BBC is looking to save some costs, perhaps they should be looking at the bloated salaries of certain presenters and pundits, rather than hitting vulnerable pensioners in the pocket.”

The MP is being urged by Age Scotland to honour the Scots Tories’ 2017 manifesto commitment to maintain pensioner benefits, including TV licences, for the duration of the current Parliament.

The charity has called on all Conservative MPs in Scotland to lobby the UK Government to take back control of the entitlement and get assurances from whoever they support for Prime Minister to commit to paying for TV licences for everyone aged over 75.

From 2020, the BBC will only provide a free licence to over-75s if they receive pension credit. This means 300,000 will lose their eligibility and be forced to pay £154.50 from next year, give up their television or face a £1,000 fine.

Mr Masterton said he is in full agreement with Age Scotland, adding: “On a recent visit to BBC bosses at Pacific Quay, I made my opposition to any changes to the TV licence fee clear.

“Many of those who are likely to face a new charge may feel isolated or lonely and television provides them with some comfort.

“It is something the BBC were aware that the government did not want them to do. The last BBC settlement was very generous and made on the clear expectation the free licence regime would continue.

“This decision should be reversed.”

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