The House of Commons is refusing to release the names and salaries of MPs’ staff following a Freedom of Information Act Request by Your Right to Know author Heather Brooke.

Brooke, who is now appealing to the Information Commissioner, makes some important arguements for why this information should be released in her original letter requesting the information:

The public have an interest in ensuring that the staffing operation of Parliament is above-board and that public money is being well spent.

This information is available in other countries. For example, the names of American Congressional Representatives’ staff are made public as a matter of course even when they are funded privately.

On the first point, she notes:

The investigative reporter Michael Crick estimates that around 100 MPs employ family members, and while most may work very hard, some may do nothing at all. An MP’s signature is all that is needed to draw money for staff from the public purse, yet the public are not allowed to know who these people are.

But the Commons staff is suggesting that MPs and their staff are not covered by the FOIA, depite the fact that “these are people paid entirely from the public purse”. [ADDED 8.1.2006]