On 24 August 2016, the Compliance Officer for IPSA received a complaint from a member of the public (reference COM-1131) that Mr Simon Danczuk had made a claim for £186.68 for a flight from Alicante to Gatwick on 20 May 2015 which was not allowable under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses ('the Scheme').
Initial enquiries by the Compliance Officer revealed that the MP had been on holiday in Spain and had booked a flight to the UK to facilitate his attendance at Westminster in order to be sworn in, following his re-election as an MP on 7 May 2015. The Scheme does not provide for such circumstances and the claim was therefore not allowable under the Scheme.
On 1 September 2016, prior to being contacted by the Compliance Officer, Mr Danczuk repaid IPSA the value of the claim. On 28 September 2016, Mr Danczuk informed the Compliance Officer that he had sought advice from Chambers (the House of Commons travel provider) prior to booking the flight and believed, wrongly, that it was an allowable expense.
Section 9(1) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 permits the Compliance Officer to exercise discretion when making a decision whether to open an investigation when an MP has been “paid an amount … that should not have been allowed”.
As the MP has acknowledged the error and repaid the expense, the Compliance Officer can see no useful purpose in opening a formal investigation. Nonetheless, as there has been a breach of the Scheme, it is correct that details of the complaint and the outcome are published.
The matter is now closed.
- The MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses permits claims for travel costs incurred from locations other than constituencies when Parliament is recalled but not otherwise.
- The Compliance Officer for IPSA is an independent office holder established as a separate public authority from IPSA under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, as amended by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. He is responsible for investigating complaints regarding MPs' business costs and expenses paid to MPs by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority ('IPSA').
- The Procedures for Investigations of the Compliance Officer for IPSA (Third Edition) can be found on the Compliance Officer’s website via this link. They give the Compliance Officer the discretion to open an investigation if he or she has reason to believe that an MP may have been paid an amount under the Scheme that should not have been paid.
- The MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses can be found on IPSA's website via this link.
- MPs can book rail tickets and air travel using Chambers (the House of Commons travel provider) and IPSA will pay Chambers direct, for eligible journeys.
- Details of all claims paid to and repaid by MPs are published on IPSA’s website.