Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, has said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the settlement reached between HM Revenue and Customs and Google does not represent a “glorious moment” for the Government.
“I speak with thousands of companies; small, medium size, as well as, of course, large companies, and there is a sense of injustice with what they see. They do look at this and say, ‘look, I don’t operate all these multiple jurisdictions around the world, I can’t share profits around, what about me? Where’s the level playing field?’ And I share that sense and the sort of sense of unfairness that exists. In a sense I actually think it’s much wider than that. I think there’s a concern amongst many people about capitalism itself, when they look at, you know, companies are cheating on emission tests or banks that are rigging libor, they fix rates, and they say what’s going on? Now, I passionately believe that the free enterprise system is still the best system, is the best way to raise living standards, but this is a challenge”.
Javid added that work still needed to be done:
“When George Osborne, you know, led this issue at the G20 he made a stronger case than anyone else on this issue and we have led the way. But what I do accept is that there is still more work to do. We need to do more work with our international partners and work out more ways to stop companies, large multinational companies, from being able to shift profits so easily”.
Speaking on the same BBC programme Andrew Marr asked Peter Barron, a spokesman for Google, about the tax settlement which has been much criticised. Barron said:
“We would and we’ve spoken about this in the past. We think that the international tax system which has been around for long time, since the 1920s, could do with reform and we would like to see more simplicity and more clarity, not least because we would like to be seen to be paying, to be paying the right amount and being seen to be paying the right amount”.