The demise of BHS was thrust into the spotlight again this week by BBC’s Panorama, as MPs gear up to “pass judgement on Sir Philip Green’s behaviour” in the House of Commons before the end of the month.
There is no scheduled date for the backbench debate as yet, but it is expected to take place in the next two weeks. It will be led by chair of the work and pensions select committee, Frank Field, with support from 50 other MPs.
“This will be the first chance the whole House has had to pass its judgement on Sir Philip Green’s behaviour to BHS workers and pensioners alike,” said Field. “The motion will be amendable and my guess is that the House will vote for sanctions.”
It comes as the BBC programme, which aired on Monday, revealed that Green’s Arcadia paid up to £2m in a “Philip bonus” to retain around 200 BHS head office employees as administrators looked for a buyer.
A spokesman for Green declined to comment. However, he provided a statement from former BHS chief executive Darren Topp, which said the money was paid “to stem the tide of resignations” and to “retain key people in order to continue to trade”.
The 30-minute programme unveiled few new revelations, but added growing pressure on Green and his promise to “sort the pension deficit”, which he vowed to do during a parliamentary hearing in June.
It sparked an outpouring on the Team BHS Facebook page from former employees. They said they had been observing a “strict social media policy” while employed by BHS, but could now speak out.
“Even though we all knew what went on, it was hard seeing it all laid bare like that,” wrote one former employee, Sarah-Jane Crowe. “I’ve been lucky enough to go straight into a new job even though it’s less hours [but] I miss my BHS family and the routine I had for 13 years.”
The work and pensions select committee also published a raft of new evidence this week from its inquiry into the Pension Protection Fund and the Pensions Regulator. It is looking at how to strengthen the regulation of large pension schemes, following the BHS collapse.