Taxpayers deserve to know where their money goes. We have learnt – to their displeasure and cost – about MPs and their emoluments, and we have sort of learnt – ditto – about the lavish rewards available in the upper echelons of the BBC. Yesterday it was the turn of the mandarin class to have their pay and perks exposed to public view, and not, we say, before time.
There was no scandal, if only because many of these salaries had already been winkled out and published by campaign groups. Perhaps, too, the £200k-plus public-sector salary has lost its capacity to shock. What was different about this list, though, was that it was official, and marks the start of a new policy of disclosure. From now on, the figures are to be released systematically.
David Cameron's promise to lift what he calls the "cloak of secrecy" around government is a thoroughly laudable development. We can expect figures for hospital infection rates, government contracts and local government spending in the coming months. As with so many of the coalition's early moves, you have to wonder why it wasn't done by the previous – Labour – government. More official information, though, has its downside: we will all have to work that much harder to fathom out what is still not there.