Making a Complaint
What can the Compliance Officer investigate?
The Compliance Officer for IPSA may conduct an investigation if he has reason to believe that an MP may have received from IPSA an amount that should not have been allowed under the MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses ('the Scheme'). You can view a copy of the Scheme on IPSA's website, or via the link on the right-hand side of this page.
The Compliance Officer is not responsible for criminal allegations relating to an MP, nor can he investigate whether or not an MP has broken the MPs' Code of Conduct, which is administered by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
The Compliance Officer may open an investigation following receipt of a complaint from a member of the public about a payment to an MP that is suspected or alleged to be outside the rules of the Scheme, or if he receives a request from IPSA or an MP to investigate a payment. He may also conduct an investigation on his own initiative, providing he has reason to believe that an MP may have received a payment that should not have been allowed.
The Compliance Officer may reject a complaint if he considers it unfair or disproportionate to investigate. Reasons for this decision may include:
- the complaint is trivial or vexatious;
- the complaint does not relate to a claim for payment under the Scheme;
- the complaint repeats allegations that have already been the subject of an investigation; or
- the complaint is anonymous and there is no other good reason to investigate.
In most cases the Compliance Officer is able to resolve matters prior to the opening of an investigation, to the satisfaction of all parties, without the need to resort to the more formal process.
Details of all claims made by MPs for business costs and expenses are published by IPSA. You can search through and view these claims on their publication website.
If you wish to make a complaint about an amount that an MP may have received from IPSA that you believe should not have been allowed under the Scheme, please submit your request using the contact details on our Contact us page.
When submitting your request you may find it helpful to use our form, but if you choose not to then please include the following information:
- Your contact details
- The name(s) of the MP(s) in question
- The claim details and/or nature of complaint
- Any documentary evidence you may have
We will acknowledge any complaint within two working days.
Before an investigation is initiated, a decision is made on the validity of the complaint, specifically, whether the complaint is within the Compliance Officer's statutory remit. The Compliance Officer's powers to investigate are confined to the provisions given in the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (as amended by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010). If the complaint is outside the Compliance Officer's remit, an explanation will be given and, wherever possible, information will be offered to direct the complaint to the appropriate body.
If the complaint is within the Compliance Officer's remit, a decision is made as to whether there are sufficient grounds to open an investigation. The Compliance Officer may decide that there is sufficient reason to believe that a claim may have been wrongfully paid to an MP and may open an investigation. If there are insufficient grounds to do so, the complaint is closed down.
The Compliance Officer may decide not to open an investigation – even if there are grounds to do so – if it is judged that conducting an investigation would be a disproportionate course of action. This does not in any way imply that the matter is disregarded, merely that it is progressed using less formal and more proportionate means.
Once a decision has been made whether or not to open an investigation, the MP, IPSA and the complainant, if applicable, are informed of the Compliance Officer's decision.
If the Compliance Officer decides to open an investigation, the MP, IPSA and the complainant, if applicable, will be notified. At the outset, the name of the MP under investigation and brief details of the matter under investigation will be published on this website.
During the investigation, the Compliance Officer may require the MP and IPSA to provide information in the form of a written statement, or any documents relevant to the matters being investigated. The Compliance Officer may also request information from any source deemed appropriate.
The MP and IPSA will have the opportunity to make formal representations in writing. The Compliance Officer will also give the MP the opportunity to be heard in person and to request that another person attend the hearing to represent the MP or to be asked about the matter in question.
Statement of Provisional Findings
At the conclusion of the investigation, the Compliance Officer will publish a Statement of Provisional Findings. This will include further details on the scope of the investigation, the evidence obtained, representations made and provisional conclusions and recommendations. The MP and IPSA will both be offered the opportunity to make further representations.
Statement of Findings
In the event that the Compliance Officer receives further representations from the MP and/or IPSA following the publication of the Statement of Provisional Findings, he will prepare a Statement of Findings.
As with the Statement of Provisional Findings, this will detail whether the Compliance Officer believes that a claim has been wrongfully paid to an MP. It may also include details of any failures by the MP to provide information or documentation required in the process of the investigation and any findings on IPSA's role, specifically, any faults that may have led to a claim being wrongfully paid to an MP.
The Compliance Officer will send the Statement of Findings to the MP, IPSA and the complainant, if applicable, and will notify them that the investigation has been concluded and that the details of the investigation are to be published.
MP's right to appeal
If the Compliance Officer makes a repayment direction or imposes a penalty on an MP, the MP has a right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. An appeal must be brought within 28 days of the date on which the Statement of Findings was sent to the MP.