British opposition
The Parliament of the United Kingdom. AFP News/JESSICA TAYLOR

According to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) expenses register, government minister Amanda Solloway as well as Conservative MPs Simon Hoare and Bim Afolami, and SNP MP Dave Doogan were found to have been claiming fines on expenses.

Solloway, the MP for Derby North and energy minister, claimed back a fixed penalty notice which had been issued on July 2, 2020, by Transport for London. She also used to serve under Suella Braverman at the Home Office.

In April, Braverman claimed nearly £25,000 in five years for her house in London though it was discovered that she had actually been living rent-free with her parents when not there. Handouts of this kind were designed to prevent MPs who live outside London from spending carelessly to maintain two houses but an investigation by the Mirror suggests Ms Braverman made use of her claims to pay personal household bills on her £1.2m family home in Bushey, Herts.

An investigation revealed that no rules were broken.

Sir Alastair Graham, former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life that advises the Prime Minister on arrangements for upholding ethical standards of conduct across public life in England, has responded to the investigation by stressing that MPs should not be seen by the public as having special privileges.

"This looks like an attempt to game the rules to maximise benefit. She says she 'fully funds' her constituency accommodation but does not reveal it is owned by her parents. Those are weasel words, she needs to explain what she means. Is she manipulating the rules to strengthen her household income? It has the smell of a conspiracy to do that," he said.

Meanwhile, the report also shows Mr Doogan, SNP MP for Angus, to have claimed a £160 fine in January 2022 while Mr Hoare, chair of the Commons Northern Ireland Committee and MP for North Dorset made four claims for £80 fines issued in November 2019.

The penalties claimed were issued by Transport for London. The cases were initially uncovered in an investigation done by the Independent.

Mr Afolami said in a statement: "[It was] completely inadvertent. All money repaid the moment that I knew about it."

Both Ms Solloway and Mr Afolami have since claimed that the expenses were submitted in error and confirmed they have since repaid the charges while the offices of the other MPs have yet to respond to the claims.

A spokesperson for IPSA said: "MPs are not allowed to claim for penalty charges and fines under IPSA rules. Paragraph 3.26 of the Scheme of MPs' Staffing and Business Costs clearly states that these fines are not claimable.

"IPSA's checks failed in some cases to identify these claims and some of them were paid. We will contact MPs and ask them to repay, where appropriate. We have changed our process to ensure any future such claims are not paid, and will reiterate the scheme rules to MPs."

The spokesman further added that MPs who reside outside London can claim the congestion charge if they drive into central London for work but that would not include approval for expenses claims for fines incurred if the congestion charge is not paid on time.

Sir Graham has since weighed in on this issue and said, "It's scandalous. If the home secretary can pay her fine for speeding, then everybody else should pay their fixed penalty notices. MPs are ordinary citizens like the rest of us, and if they've breached the regulations for driving then they have to pay the fixed penalty notice like the rest of us.

"It gives a very bad impression if they're paid out of public funds because it looks like they're getting special privileges, which is most inappropriate," he added.